The Only Birthday Gift I Can Afford On My Current Salary…

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.)

Β 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?Β 

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.

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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33 Responses to The Only Birthday Gift I Can Afford On My Current Salary…

  1. REDdog says:

    G’day Hook, hope you’re on the mend Cobber. Cheers Red

  2. I’m glad you are on the right track and extra glad you were inspired to share this!

  3. jaklumen says:

    I am reminded once again that I really, really want a dog, but can’t afford to keep one.

  4. Oh Hook! How I’ve missed your posts. And thanks for the steamy shout-out…you are helping me get out of my funk. And relating to our other conversation…it’s a bit delayed but definitely will come your way, my sweet friend πŸ™‚

  5. Paul says:

    Ahh Hook, welcome back. Chelsa sounds like the perfect compoanion and family member. Happy Birthday to her.

  6. Lindsay says:

    My god. Chelsea is adorable, the little ghost-whispering, face-licking loveable creature she is. Happy birthday to her!

  7. maurnas says:

    I really want a dog. I mean, they can spot ghosts, terminators, aliens, pod people. It’s a solid home defense system.

  8. So glad you came back if only to drop in. Happy Birthday to your furball and A speedy recovery to you!

  9. NotAPunkRocker says:

    What a sweet looking dog πŸ™‚ It’s funny how animals can really make a difference in our moods, mostly for the better.

    I am glad to hear you are back on the right track. Heal on, my friend.

  10. Jolene says:

    Happy Birthday Chelsea!

  11. What a wonderful tribute to Chelsea. She looks special with her stuffed green pepper. Shout out to Chelsea and to you for the funk bustin”

  12. Jennifer says:

    And where would we be without outer canine companions, I’m pretty sure our dog is king of the house already, we just haven’t realised it. Missed your posts but so long as you’re getting better, all is good.

  13. Delightful to hear your voice. You must be getting better. I hear some of your old self in a line or two. πŸ™‚

  14. 'Tis says:

    Missed you Mr. Hook! Glad to see you peeking your nose in where it belongs. πŸ™‚


  15. Robert!!!! I have so missed you!! What a sweet post about Chelsea… I love my canine companions and I can’t imagine life without them. Thank you so much for coming out of your shell for a bit. I pray for your speedy recovery of getting back into the groove of life as you know it! Rock on my friend…Rock on!~ πŸ™‚

  16. Awww, Cap’n Hook O’Peg, what a sweet, and funny, tribute to your little, little miss. She’s got to be a good woman with a birthday in early July. πŸ˜‰ I love my gigantic lump of furball too, so I know how they get under your skin.

    Nice to see you online, Robert. – which is better than picturing you crawling on the floor to the can. Jaysus!

    Listen, whatever this blip in the Universe is, I hope you are easily bestowed with whatever advantage its got for you. And, thanks so much for the shout-out. Now, hurry up and get better, ya big lug.

  17. Happy Birthday Chelsea and welcome back-ish Hook. We’ve missed you and your absence has been felt across the blogosphere.
    Loved your pooch story…I couldn’t imagine life without dogs.
    Hope you are on the mend and finding ways to stay sane!!

  18. 1jaded1 says:

    Happy Birthday Chelsea! Way to keep Hook on his toes. πŸ˜‰

    Hi dear friend, I’m glad to see you are on the mend. Can’t wait til you are back with regularity. Blogland just isn’t the same.

  19. Happy birthday Chelsea! Even though I don’t always comment over here, I always see your posts come in, and I noticed there’s been a gap lately! You’ve alluded to things not being right, not sure what they are, but hope things are improving!

  20. marydpierce says:

    The ears alone are enough. They’re a hair-do in of themselves. I’m smitten. Happy birthday Chelsea, you minx!

  21. Happy Birthday Chelsea … you look marvelous! Hope to see more of you soon Hook.

  22. We, your readers, are the light! Walk into the light! All are welcome!

    Seriously, mind the gap in posting, if you don’t mind. Look at the bright side of life, at least you’re not Brazilian. Those folks are in for years of self-analysis.

    Happy birthday to the dog. My dog bites me, so I have a complicated relationship with the canine species.

  23. susielindau says:

    Glad to see you Hook! It seems Chelsea is multi-talented!
    This may be a great time to work on your new book. πŸ™‚

  24. mergellus says:

    It’s so good to see your ‘fragile and broken form’ back with us again Hook, my truly lousy day has just taken a lift.

  25. Terri says:

    We knew you’d return πŸ™‚ How could you not?!

  26. Sorry to hear about your injury, Hookie. Good to see you around.

  27. A big big kiss to sweet Chelsea! A little creature with a huge heart. Sometimes it feels like they are taking care of us and not the other way round! Looking forward to Hook’s return in full bloom! πŸ™‚

  28. ken miller says:

    What a tribute to a non human . No wonder my daughter Robyn loves you.

  29. Nadia says:

    Tibial plateau fracture?? I’ve been away for too long. Feel better! I find red wine helps for that. xxx

  30. Good to see you back Hook! Really missed your funny posts. Hope you are recovering, and doing everything that the doctor has ordered. Happy birthday Chelsea, you are so very cute, could you please make sure your two-legged (or is it now three) companion is being a good patient πŸ˜€

  31. YAYYYYY!!! I was so excited to see your name in my inbox again!!! Kind of amazing, the bond we can find with our pets πŸ™‚ I have a Shih Tzu too, and although he’s a grumpy little bastard I love him to death! Keep getting better my friend, you have been missed!

  32. Dogs are great for mending all kinds of hurts. It sounds like your Chelsea will be taking good care of you. Maybe next time she’ll take you to the spa with her.

  33. Madhu says:

    Belated birthday hugs to Chelsea….what a sweetheart! πŸ™‚ Hope to have you back in full form soon Hook.

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