Dog days hard to avoid

By Ryn Gargulinski: Guest Columnist

When I moved to California from New Mexico, I had to leave some things behind — constant sunshine, people I love and my 50-pound puppy, Lulu.

It’s not that I didn’t want to keep the big ball of fur and raucous energy (referring to the puppy, not the people I love), it’s that my new apartment had a clause in the lease that said pets could be no bigger than carry-on luggage. Lulu was already larger than a cargo plane.

After a failed attempt at a mini-mixed breed I rescued from a pound — who had the unattractive habits of constantly licking her genitals and pooping on the shag rug — I ended up with Zola, a miniature pincher who weighs less than the dumbbell with which I curl.

While both the giant Rottweiler/Akita (aka Rakita) mix and the teeny min pin will forever stock joy in my heart, I found owning a little dog is a far cry from having a humongous hound.

First off, I am saving approximately $972 a month on the dog food bill.

Whereas Lulu would pretty much inhale a 40-pound bag of chow just by looking at it, Zola stays true to that little chart on the back of the bag that says small breeds consume about one cup of food per day.

I have also already saved about $11,067 in refurbishing my furniture, which included the time Lulu felt a deep, guttural need to disembowel a leather pillow. This includes the cost of a new vacuum when the old one broke trying to vacuum up the pillow pieces. It does not include the cost of a new screen for the sliding glass doors when Lulu decided she didn’t like how the old one looked.

So far Zola has cost less than $30 on chew toys, although I really should invest that $5 in a new pair of fuzzy slippers she thought was a wild animal that deserved to be beheaded.

However, I don’t think the chewing thing is as much a big dog/little dog issue as it is a lesson I learned from past experience how to teach the dear pooch not to chew on things I like (besides the slippers).

Walking the dog is truly a big dog/little dog issue. Lulu took a team of about 20 men to get her to walk in a straight line and she once nearly ripped my bicycle out from under me. There was also that time I nearly went for X-rays as I was sure she dislocated my shoulder. People would make those non-funny wisecracks of “Who’s walking who?”

Well, I still get those wisecracks as Zola is a breed of dog most known for being intelligent, disobedient and doing anything in her power to get her way. Her way already included pulling me down a muddy ditch on my fanny. She is also known to be running along at top speed, dragging me behind, only to suddenly stop dead. These are the times I think of those crash-car dummies hurling into the windshield of a suddenly stopped vehicle.

I have yet to try the bicycle thing as I am still unbending the front wheel from the time I took Lulu along for a ride.

Speaking of vehicles, Lulu would usually sit calmly in the car’s passenger seat — mainly because she was too big to do anything else. Zola, on the other paw, takes great glee in skittering over that little armrest thing in the middle of the front seat. She’ll hop to the front, the back, slide off one or the other when I hit a turn too sharp and eventually try to end up in my lap. Remember, min pins do anything to get their way.

Not only is this setup a detriment on winding, mountainous Northern California roads, it’s ghastly illegal.

Meeting people is a different experience with the two dogs also — mainly because Zola won’t get near enough to anyone without barking furiously for me to meet them. She is especially non-fond of males except an old smiling man at the post office.

When anyone neared the behemoth Lulu, they would automatically put their hand near their hip. I was unsure if they were reaching for their cell phone to call an ambulance in advance or a gun.

Not to worry, Lulu was not out for blood, except with the leather pillow, but was friendly to a fault. It was fault enough to knock people over when she greeted them and get her banned from the office where I worked. I almost went for X-rays again, this time to see if one of her hurls into my stomach damaged part of my spine. (She’s living with a loved one in Texico now, so be on the lookout if you live around there.)

Zola jumps a tad, too, but hers is more like being hit with a marble rather than those 90-ton wrecking balls.

Both breeds have their moments, for sure, and life would certainly be less fulfilling without a happy hound — of any size — to lay around with on a Sunday morning while reading a book.

Both found they could distract me from my book by reclining on my chest, but when Zola does it, I can still actually breathe. And Lulu found the best way to further distract by chewing up the book. I guess I should add that to the pillow bill.

Ryn Gargulinski is a former resident of eastern New Mexico. Contact her at:

ryngargulinski@hotmail.com