When Jimmy was two he announced to his dad and I that he wanted a dog. Since I was pregnant with his brother and in no hurry to have a third critter peeing all over my house, we told Jimmy he’d have to wait until he was five.
So it came to be that nine years ago my husband and I made good on the promise we made our then toddler.
Jim and I can’t stand the thought of euthanizing a healthy pet just because it has the unfortunate luck to be housed the longest at a too-full pound. We had decided years before that our pets would be rescued from said establishment, so off we went.
Jim let it be known far and wide that we were going to be getting a male dog who would guard and protect his family. (Insert muy macho gorilla grunt here, a la Tim Allen.) Girl dogs were too timid, my canine chauvinist shared. I just rolled my eyes. I had a female dog growing up and she was more protective than either of the male dogs we’d had.
Walking into the pound for Jimmy was like Christmas morning, eyeballing kennel after kennel of desperate critters wanting to be freed. He visited every cage as I stood in the corner scratching my arms like a crack addict in need of a fix. The place was crawling with brown eyes–my personal kryptonite. I began hatching a plan to free them all. We’d just buy a farm with all the money we didn’t have and start our own animal sanctuary.
“We can only have ONE,” Jim said, his face about two inches from my own, a weak attempt at breaking my line of sight.
He was right, though. I’d eventually have become the Crazy Dog Lady who was eaten by a pack of her own furry children. Not the headline I’m looking for.
There was one dog that had my attention. It looked like an overgrown beagle. It was the only one not adding to the cacophony of barking going on. My heart instantly reached out to that dog because it was the flesh and blood representation of the stuffed Pound Puppy I’d had as a girl, right down to the brown patch of fur over the eye. Imagine my delight when that was the dog Jimmy picked.
The kids and I stayed inside to fill out paperwork while Jim took our new dog for a walk before stuffing us into our too-small Tempo. While he was gone Jimmy picked out the name “Rosie,” a thinly veiled shout out to Caillou, the annoying cartoon I was sure was going to make my brain melt out of my ears someday.
“We can’t name a boy Rosie,” Jim said when he came back in.
“Well, unless HE is missing something vital, HE is a SHE,” I said.
“Miranda,” he whispered, “when boy dogs get fixed they snip their nuts.”
“I know,” I whispered back. “This one is missing a penis.”
Jim grumbles even now about how he was tricked into buying a female dog. But he also admits that she has shattered his dog chauvinist ideals, too. Jehovah’s Witnesses give our yard a wide berth and the mail carrier wears diapers meant for astronauts, such is the ferocity of Rosie’s attack at the front door. She is kind to most visitors unless they smell like a cat. The unlucky feline owners are greeted with a throaty growl of disapproval. She is not fond of other dogs unless they clearly accept her as the alpha. She’s been known to draw blood to get that point across. She is very territorial when it comes to her bed and her crate, going so far as to bark, growl or give the evil eye to anyone who should come too close to her two favored nests.
Jim laughs at me, often remarking that we bought a dog for Jimmy that became mine the minute we came home. I vehemently deny that I’m her preferred human, even in the face of absolute proof. I will admit to loving her every bit as much as my children. She’s my daughter who happens to wear a fur coat.
It’s been a rough year for Rosie. She’s had three surgeries in the last ten months to battle abscesses she had on her back and neck, the most recent being this past week. The vet told us that this is it. If this doesn’t work, there isn’t anything more he can do.
When Jim brought our ten-year-old, seventy-five pound hound home from this latest surgery, I sobbed harder than the last two times. The first two surgeries involved shaving and stitches and drains. This last one: staples. She looks like they cut her in half and stapled her back together. She’s wearing a brace on her neck that makes her look like a whiplash victim. She laid on her bed and moaned even though she’s on two pain meds.
Rosie is tough, though. Two days after surgery she was back to her spunky self, escaping her brace twice now and growling and barking at the mail carrier, though with markedly less zeal. She sleeps a lot more than usual and looks so very pitiful.
For now, I wake every morning at 5 a.m., wrap a pain pill in a slice of cheese, and give it to my snack crazy, pound found hound. I look into those sad, brown eyes and whisper, “That’s my girl.”
About two o’clock in the morning I was typing away at my computer, Rosie, our dog curled at my feet, snoring away. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something flutter in the background. I looked and saw nothing. I continued to type.
A few minutes later I heard Rosie’s I.D. tags jingle. Something had woken my semi-comatose hound. Only two things do that: the promise of food or fun. I looked down to see her brown ears perked up, her nose wiggling about 90 miles an hour while she tried to discern if whatever woke her was worth actual movement.
That’s when I saw it. My old nemesis. The brown bat.
You see, we’d been here before. Only it was trapped in the laundry room during the first go round. Now it was in my dining room, swooping around like freaking Rodan.
Rosie, remembering that I didn’t let her eat the little brown flying rat the last time, rested her head on her paws to continue her snooze.
Until I busted out my best defense against the pterodactyl in the dining room, that is.
I hit the dirt and started screaming like a little girl, crawling to the doors and flinging them open, in hopes that Rodan would make a swift exit outside where he belonged. Swear words flowed freely from my mouth as I gave myself carpet burn, unable to get any closer to the ground despite my best efforts. Rosie jumped up and joined in on the fun, hopping around like a rabbit, barking at the furry brown fun making her mom completely lose her shit.
That’s when the boys came running out of their bedrooms.
“Mom!” Tony said, “what is wrong?”
“Mom!” Jimmy said, “why are you scream….”
Then Rodan dive bombed my baby!
Tony ran for his room slamming the door. Jimmy ran for his room and slammed the door, also.
I looked around, feeling like my eyes were going to pop out of my head, my heart pounding so hard I’m sure the neighbors could hear.
That’s when Jimmy came down and said, “Mom, it’s trapped in my room.”
After I got him some blankets to sleep on the couch with, I called my savior, Jim.
“Jim, it’s back! The bat is back!” I sobbed into the phone.
“You’re kidding me!”
So, quietly I sat, shivering from the overdose of adrenaline pumping through my veins. Jim will get the net. He’ll capture Rodan and we’ll be fine, I thought. I began to worry about bat poop in the house. Was it toxic? What if the dog ate it? What if the kids touched it? How do you find bat poop? What does it look like?
After about thirty minutes of worrying myself into a tizzy, Jim came home. He was wearing his hard hat, uniform, heavy green jacket with a flap protecting his neck, big welding gloves, safety goggles and work boots with steel tarsals. I looked down at myself. I had on a tank top and shorts. I made a mental note to purchase better armor for these occasions.
Up the stairs he went with the giant black net. Two seconds later, he came downstairs with Jimmy’s blanket wadded up in the net. Rodan had flown into Jimmy’s room and knocked himself wonky on the fan. After all this commotion, the damn thing was taking a nap on Jimmy’s comforter.
Jim walked him outside and lay the net and blanket on the deck. A few moments later, the evil thing woke up and flew off to eat bugs and terrorize someone else.
I breathed a sigh of relief and Jim went back to work.
The next morning I hugged my savior.
“You know, I love you, and I have no problem saving you from bats,” he began. “But, next time, we’ll keep this between us, okay?”
“Okay,” I said, confused.
“I got to work and this was hanging on my locker.”
How many women can actually say they were saved by Batman?