It’s tasty. It’s convenient. And it’s inexpensive. I guess you could say I owe it all to that Kenny Rogers guy.
It may be a ritual for me, but it’s become an expectation where Ginger is concerned.
Ginger is a 14-pound shih tzu that takes up residence in my house. Cute and cuddly on the outside, yet feisty and opinionated on the inside. And she’s 11 years old – which makes her 77 years old if we’re keeping score in human years.
Yes, I have senior citizen dog. And I’m reminded of it everyday.
I love the shih tzu breed. I really do. I had one growing up. So I knew what to expect when Ginger came along.
Or so I thought.
My family took in Tuffy, a male shih tzu, around the time when I was 10 years old. He was everything you’d want in a dog that was going to live in a home with three kids.
He was calm, cool and collected at all times. He’d let anyone pick him up and hold him. And he was especially gentle and patient with small children – especially the ones that made sudden movements and loud noises.
So when Ginger came into my life, I thought I was getting Tuffy 2.0. Boy, was I was wrong. They are nothing alike. Tuffy was cute and sweet. Ginger generally is not. She’s way too uptight and high-strung than Tuffy ever was, not to mention that she is definitely smarter and more manipulative. And she certainly doesn’t take crap from anyone.
Not even me.
She does love my new weekly ritual. However, it no longer belongs to me. It has become our weekly ritual. Because as soon as I enter the house with the groceries, all it takes is one whiff of the freshly cooked chicken and she begins to lose her mind.
One thing can be said about dogs. You always know where you stand. With cats, not so much. But with dogs, specifically my dog, you just know.
There’s the wagging of the tale, or it could be the tap dancing on the kitchen floor when you say the word ‘treat’. But lately, she’s had this nagging bark that seems to come at the most inopportune of times.
I may know where I stand, but I have no idea what she wants.
The incessant barking begins as soon as I sit down. It’s only gotten worse the last few years. She knows how to get my attention. Because if she barks, I give her a reaction. It’s the reaction that she is chasing. How dare I sit down and look at a screen and not talk to her.
Does she want to be held? No. Does she want to go outside? No. Is she out of dog food or water? No. Then what else is there that a dog wants or needs. It has to be attention.
Of course. Like most weekdays, I’ve been away for much of the day. And the thought of me directing my attention towards something else is offensive to her.
However, it wasn’t always this way. I don’t remember what it was before. I just know it didn’t look or feel like this.
She sleeps all day, and apparently this old lady needs less and less sleep the older she gets. So by 6:30pm, she’s wide awake and ready to take on the day. I’m ready to take on the recliner.
It’s become one big game. And neither of us knows the rules. She does know how to manipulate me. And dammit, I know how to manipulate her.
I don’t know if she’s trained me or if I’ve trained her, but it’s how we operate at this stage of the game. She speaks in barks, and I speak in English. Thankfully, we are both fluent in chicken.
The chicken is tasty to her, and for me, well, it buys me a few moments of peace and quiet.
We’ve become two strong-willed opinionated family members, butting heads against each other night in and night out. But we still manage to come together like all families do for Thankgiving dinner.
Only this time, it’s with chicken. The other white meat.