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Have you ever had a pet that reminds you of someone? Well, I have.

A chicken named Lola reminds me of my mom (in heaven). My mother was a big talker—so much so that you could walk into another room, do something, come back into the room, and find that she had never stopped her conversation with you. She retold the same stories, especially her favorites, over and over. Well, Lola squawks incessantly. Eight other chickens occasionally squawk, but Lola is always making “bawking” noises. I now say, “Hi, Mom,” when I enter the chicken pen.

The other two pets that remind me of someone are my Yorkies, Roman and Hannah.  Like my brother and I growing up, they enjoy teasing one another.  I don’t know if they really despise each other or are just jealous.

Roman (my brother Steve) is all about his chew toys and dog treats. He’s not satisfied with one at a time. He has to have ALL of them. He is like a toddler that never developed beyond the “mine” stage. Hannah (my alter ego) doesn’t care about the toys but can’t resist acting like she wants them to get a rise out of her brother.  Roman, who has longer and stronger legs, takes his toys and snacks to Mom and Dad’s bed because he knows Hannah can’t reach them (unless I lift her onto the bed).  Being laissez-faire about food, he often hides his treats, forgetting that Hannah has a nose for food like a bloodhound. He has been known to set his treat down after becoming distracted by something, only to find that Hannah has grabbed it up and swallowed it.

Hannah, on the other hand, is all about food and snacks. While Roman can carry a treat around for hours to irritate his sister, Hannah gobbles rather than chews any food or treat. She then immediately tries to get whatever Roman has.  What appears as love pecks is Hannah sniffing Roman’s breath for traces of food or treats.

Besides having never left toddlerhood, Roman, like all males, has a mental “nothing box.” I believe that you can ask what a man is thinking, and when he says “nothing,” he means it.  Females do not have this capacity. I can invite Roman up on my lap, to come in or, to come up onto the bed, and he gives me a blank stare or cocks his head. He may decide to come in or jump up a minute or two later.  

Hannah has accepted that her short legs mean she can’t climb the steps to the bed and can’t jump into a lap. To compensate, she has a particular snort to tell me she wants to be picked up. She also nose-bumps me when she wants attention.

When playing more roughly, Hannah goes for Roman’s back legs, her nemesis. Roman grabs at the back of Hannah’s neck to prove he is taller and more agile.

Of course, all this makes for endless entertainment for the human members of the family.  The exception is bedtime, when we must put all the toys away out of reach because the two of them will tussle over them off and on all night otherwise.

Meanwhile, Roman enjoys “lap time” (because he can hop up himself). He likes kisses, but only if he initiates them. Hannah’s preferred ritual is tummy rub time. She is always up for a slurpy kiss-fest. Hannah loves to have her teeth brushed because the doggy toothpaste is chicken-flavored. Roman must be picked up and held to get his brushed.

My dogs are precious to me like no other animal I have owned. I have had lots of cats over the years. I loved each one. But I never had trouble leaving them in the care of others if I wanted to go somewhere.

My dogs have become like my children. I don’t trust anyone else to care for them. They have so many routines, nuances, and expectations that I can’t fathom anyone else would be able to maintain their high standards unless I were to give classes with extensive all-day training. I don’t even trust them to my husband’s care. He’s oblivious to their language, tells, and messages. He feels no compulsion to feed them from the table or share his food. He wouldn’t notice whether they had water, food, or needed to go outside. My last will needs to indicate that my daughter is to care for them if I die. She has two Yorkies herself and is among the small group of elite people qualified to care for mine. Maybe.

My nine and ten-pound Yorkies think they are the navy seals of canines. They are not intimidating at all. Even our cats are not intimidated by them. Hannah’s high-pitched bark might annoy an intruder into retreat, but Roman’s bouncy curiosity and friendliness to strangers make even delivery drivers less than fearful. Nevertheless, they patrol their fenced-in yard routinely, as if on a military patrol.

Animal lovers, be warned. The attachment to a dog is a powerful one. In my case, Yorkies were my kryptonite. You may find yourself either including your dog in any travel or restricted to a very small pool of doggy care providers. Yorkies become such integral family members that they may rival your spouse or child regarding the level of intimacy you feel toward them.


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