Tuesday, December 6, 2011


So it‘s early morning, like five, and I’m in bed half awake.   I’ve never been a late sleeper, have become even more the insomniac as I’ve gotten older.   I am, however, a very good dozer and I like to lie there in the early hours and muse.   I think about my work, I think about my life.   I contemplate my hangover if I have one.   It can be a pleasant time.   And so it can be especially disconcerting when your bedmate decides to stretch and out of nowhere, long toes and even longer toe nails pincushion into your nether regions.  And so you push them away and they push back.   And you push harder and they push back harder.   And finally you can’t take it any more and you say to the lovely wife in an aggrieved voice –

Will you do something about your stupid dog!   

Because, yes, it is a stupid dog that has usurped my bed and worse, is disturbing my reverie.

Juneau is a one year old Vizla – pronounced Veesh-la – and is a Hungarian hunting hound.    However something obviously went wrong with the breed early on.  Rather than flush birds and rabbits as it is supposed to do, it would rather curl up as a stole around its owner’s neck.   It has no fat, no fur and ears like Dumbo the elephant and the moment the temperature drops below fifty degrees, it begins to freeze to death.  Which brings up the question, since when is Hungary a Mediterranean climate?

Terrified of catching a chill, Juneau will begin to whimper piteously at around two in the morning.  The lovely wife, half asleep and obviously mistaking this faker for one of her children, will pull back the blankets.  Juneau will promptly leap up onto the bed and burrow down head first under the covers.   Between us. 

This is an issue.

The lovely wife and I are at a point in our lives where we don’t need immediate access to one another at all hours of the night.  No, the issue is noise.   Juneau snores like a drunken lumberjack. 

I am used to children in my bed.  Both would quietly sneak in on occasion until about the age of ten.   Neither of them took over the way Juneau does.   I inevitably lose the battle for territory and should I doze off, wake to find myself with half my butt hanging off the mattress

Most dogs don't sleep at night because they understand that you are asleep and they take the responsibility of watching over "their pack".  

Not this dog.  Should you wake Juneau up and tell him this – hey, get to work! -  he rises from under the covers, looks at you affronted, yawns - and then goes back under the covers and falls right back to sleep.

Upon arising it gets worse.  Juneau goes in search a discarded chew toy and brings it to you.  It is wet with slobber and chewed to pieces but the silly dog dances and circles as if to say – “This is yours  – friends right?”   The lovely wife thinks it’s adorable.  I think he’s feigning cuteness for food.  It works.

The other dogs have taken note.  Mully, at 75 pounds of solid lab muscle, brings you logs from the fireplace.  He drops them on your feet.   Louis the Dim, brings you his favorite ropey toy which is like a multi-colored hangman’s noose, and then refuses to actually give it to you.   Should you reach to take it, he holds on, backs up and growls deep in his throat.  As with most things, Louis is several cards short of a full deck.  Napoleon doesn’t bring you anything but himself.   This has always been the case and his attitude seems to suggest that this should be more than enough.

However, unlike the three of them, I sense that Juneau is often taking advantage of me.  The lovely wife has trained him to ring a hanging bell if he wishes to go out and take a leak.  When he knows she’s busy, he does this every six minutes.   It is left to me to open the door.  “And stay out,” I say.  Three minutes later he is whining to be let back in.  The temp hasn’t risen above fifty yet and he is shivering.  I let him whine until I can’t stand it – about 20 seconds – and I let him back in.   He doesn’t say thank you.

He chews shoes.  Leaping at flies, he knocks over lamps.   He eats bird shit and then, with great melodrama,  pukes it up in the living room.  Seeing that you’re having a glass of wine, he leaps up on the couch so you’ll spill it.

Why do I put up with all this abuse you ask?   Because much to my chagrin, I have fallen for the little bastard.   He has a face like silly putty.  When he shakes his head, his Dumbo ears flap as if he’s trying to slap himself silly.  He likes love more than food.

He is being trained to be a service dog.  He will be leaving in a year.  He will be given to a combat veteran in the Wounded Warrior group at Camp Pendleton.  He visits there often.  The Marines, most of whom suffer from post traumatic stress, call him @#$%&! Rubberface and they vie for his attention.   I have no doubt Juneau will find and become devoted to a new owner who will be equally devoted to him.   But I worry that a Marine will not allow a silly, snoring dog into his bed.  I worry Juneau will be cold.

I wonder if they’d like Louis instead.

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