Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brillo's New Pad

For the last week, the Pease family has been host to my sister’s Labradoodle, Brillo. A Labradoodle is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle. Labra-doodles are congenial and active dogs. They have the wonderful temperament and loyalty of the Lab, and the high-spiritedness and intelligence of the Poodle. At least, that’s what my ‘dog book’ says…

Brillo is all legs. Black-- with just a wee spot of white on his chest--his hair is curly and of the non-shedding type. Instead of falling out to create tumble-weeds which roll across my floors every time the front door is opened, Brillo’s hair grows, instead. At one family function, I’ll see a dog close-shaved--and the next…he’ll look like a raggedy black mop with brown eyes and a wagging tail. Last summer, Chris went so far as to give the (poor) dog a Mohawk. Hair cropped short… except for a narrow, two inch high ridge of hair down the middle of his head.

There’s no dignity in being a dog in the Bessey family.

Here at The F.A.R.M. we haven’t had a dog living with us for almost a year and a half--and Josie-Earl, especially, has missed that. There’s been no canine running to the door to greet us when we return home from a day at work or at school. No thumping tail when we speak a kind word; no cold, wet nose nudging our hands when it’s time to go for a walk. So, we were anticipating a visit from our ‘dog-nephew’…

He arrived with a leash, some food and ‘treats’, and a quick word about how good he was about being put outside on a run. We were cautioned against letting him roam outside without being tethered--for the boy has legs like a gazelle and the heart of a long-distance runner. And once he was off—he was gone. I assured my sister that there’d be no problems. That Brillo was safe with us.

Chris left. I got some rope and made a long tether for him by the front porch. I came inside and smiled benignly at the dog.

He peed.

Right in front of me, he peed! I hollered. A knee-jerk reaction. What else could I do? I didn’t have the ability to magically shut him off, mid-stream! But the act of hollering “Brillo!” only made matters worse. For instead of standing there in one place, he took off through the house at a trot, happily sprinkling as he went. A Labrapiddle, then…

I’ve mentioned that we've missed having a dog around the place, right?

I followed his trail and mopped up after him. It was no big deal. Any dog in a new place was bound to have an accident, right?

He made the rounds, investigating the sights and sounds and smells of the house. Brillo has been here many times, and has met our three cats. But this time, he had a new feline to socialize with. Marian, my neighbors’ cat, is also visiting us while her humans are away for a month vacationing in New Zealand. I could almost read Brillo’s mind as he sought out the source of this new kitty smell.

“Ooh! Fresh meat!”

If only she’d just stayed still. Not run. But gray Marian took one look at the mop-headed Brillo and lit out in a flash of fur and the scraping of claws on hard-wood floor. The chase was on! Yee-haw!

Yes, life at ‘The F.A.R. M.’ is the epitome of ‘serene’. The cat ran, the dog chased, the teens followed—worried that the black beast was bent on having a kitty chew-toy. I knew better. I can read a dog’s soul. Brillo was a push-over. A child at play. A softie. And… when Maid Marian turned on him, spitting and with claws extended—Brillo was a coward.

But he was a coward with fully operational body functions. That night, when Mr. Grumbles got up to go downstairs to use the bathroom, that fact was discovered in vivid detail. I heard my husband holler. I heard him swear. And then, I heard him say, “Karen! Come clean up your dog’s $***.”

The man knows better than to demand. His wife doesn’t comply with demands.

“Excuse me!!??” I said. “Would you care to rephrase that?”

“Karen, come clean up your ***-****** dog’s $***!”

An excellent rephrasing. Asterisks are exclamation points in this house. Regardless of the fact that it was three a.m., I wandered downstairs, my curiosity piqued. I flipped on the light.

There he stood, leaned against the table, one bare foot held aloft.

“And while you’re at it, clean this off, too!” He looked. He gagged.

Oh, brother…

I had to chuckle. I mean… it wasn’t ME who’d stepped in a gigantic pile of labrapoople. It wasn’t me who’d wandered around barefooted in the dark, trusting that the floors that I so often traversed would be free of excrement! Out of pity for the man, and to save myself the chore of cleaning up after him, too, I grabbed some paper-towels and wiped between his toes. I grabbed some more, and cleaned up after the dog. I listened to the harangue—a rare occurrence in the wee hours of the morning. I nodded in compliance as I was told that I was a push-over. That I was ‘too nice’. That I never said ‘no’.

I cocked my head.

“Should I have refused to clean the doggie-doo off your foot? Does the fact that I did, also make me a ‘push-over’?”

Throwing me a glance that was half-nervous, half-exasperated, Mr. Grumbles limped off to the shower, walking on the heel of his right foot, toes held aloft.

A wise man knows when to be quiet. And a wise man might not know WHERE to put his foot down, but he knows when NOT to.

And Brillo? He slept through the whole thing… and was perfectly well-behaved for the rest of the week.

Cheap entertainment, that’s what he is.
I’ve missed having a dog at The F.A.R.M.


Top photo: Brillo in September 2009
Cat photo: An irritated Curious-- Josie-Earl's cat
Bottom photo: Etta, another Labradoodle who has stayed with us at The F.A.R.M. (She lives with Marian kitty, mentioned above. Sorry, no pics of Marian, yet. She hides when the camera comes out...) Etta had just finished chewing something she wasn't supposed to have... hence the guilty look. :o)


  1. have such a way with words !!

    What a cute fellow for sure

  2. He's even cuter now that he's gone home....