On the surface this has appears to have been an ordinary day; The Biebs has escaped true justice once more, my all-too fragile form remains broken, Ned Hickson is still a putz, Ann St. Vincent is still steaming up computer screens everywhere and Robyn Lawson and The Bloggess are still making people wet themselves with laughter.
But the truth is, this is a special day. Five years ago, as we humans mark the passing of time, my fractured (in more ways than one), clan was blessed with an addition that would change us beyond measure.
(I was fully prepared to follow “blessed” with “cursed” but a certain fifteen-year-old member of my family would have my Canadian, comic book readin’, guts for garters. And her progenitor would have a field day with the rest of me.)
Growing up, I never felt that special bond that exists between man and domesticated beast. As a father I have had the privilege of witnessing what happens when you introduce a canine companion to the life of a quiet, introverted young lass. My daughter, Sarah, has spent most of her life thus far a victim of relentless bullying and an educational system run by incompetent blowhards.
But Chelsea and her sister-from-another-bitch, Tiffany, changed all that. Tiffany is chasing squirrels and humping legs in Heaven now, but her sibling has kept the faith in her place. Chelsea remains dedicated to the fulfillment of a singular mission: To enrich our lives with her special brand of crazy.
(I remain convinced, however, that her true mission is to usurp me as the head of the household, but no one around these parts cares what Dad has to say, so disregard this statement.)
And yes, Sarah, I know exactly what you’re thinking right now:
“You were never the head of the household, Skippy, so give it up.”
Let’s return to that special link between a sassy. modern-day girl and her dog, shall we?
Chelsea is no mere Shih Tzu, my tailless amigos, she is a human whisperer. Sarah’s sidekick knows people better than they know themselves. When Sarah is ailing Doctor Chelsea is there to sniff her weakened form and prescribe a custom treatment. Of course, it’s always the same treatment: An extensive round of face-licking followed by sleep therapy. By that, I mean Chelsea falls asleep on the patient until her heart melts, thus distracting her from her ailment.
When any of us return home after an extended absence we’re greeted by a panting, drooling animal with an offering of a stuffed toy in its heaving mouth. This is, of course, the ultimate symbol of reverence in canine culture and is guaranteed to result in a “Aww, how cute!”, every single time.
However, when I greet my wife while panting and drooling, the results are quite different, to say the least…
And if a fight breaks out? Well, Chelsea becomes a canine version of the United Nations – except that, in her case, she has the bite to back up her bark. And Dog help any prowler who ever decides to cross our threshold.
Truth be told, Chelsea has many gifts but her greatest talent leaves any of The Dog Whisperer’s furry charges in the dust. I’ve never discussed this publicly (I have no desire to spend the rest of my days in a hospital ward wearing a jacket with pockets in the back), but we share our little homestead with… shall we call them, the living-challenged?
I know what you’re thinking: Yes, my doctor provided me with some kick-ass painkillers, but no, I haven’t been chasing them with paint thinner.
Every member of my family has heard the playful meow or our long-departed cat, Felix. We’ve caught glimpses of forms and shadows that don’t belong to the living. But these incidents are rare and fleeting – and have never been influenced by fever, drugs or alcohol.
Chelsea sees spirits every day. And she quit drinking years ago. She’ll spend hours staring at various points on different ceilings in our home. I’ll join her and I won’t even spot a cobweb, much less a ghostie.
Our little four-legged Ghostbuster is currently enjoying a well-deserved spa day. I can just picture her now: Her neatly trimmed fur glistening under the fluorescent lights as she regales her brethren with updates on her family’s shenanigans.
“You’ll never believe what that two-legged dumbass did this time! I woke up the other night, looked down from the bed and there he was, crawling along the floor on the way to the inside bathroom they use. We don’t even crawl! It’s bad enough he has two extra strange-looking legs these days, but now he’s doing things that cats would find strange!”
And there you have it. kids, my tribute (?) to the greatest compact doggie in all the land. To be honest, Chelsea and I have had our moments; I’ll never forget the night I returned home after a twelve-hour shift to find my wife preparing a delicious repast of chicken and rice – for Chelsea.
My grill-cheese sandwich was a feast for the taste buds, by the way.
Happy Birthday, Chelsea. You’re a steadfast companion, a credit to your race and a worthy adversary. Enjoy your day, furball.
And on a personal note, thank you for drawing me out of my tibial-plateau-fracture-induced funk. I’m not back, but I’m on the right track, at last.