A recent purchase of an automobile involved a debate about leather versus cloth seats. My husband and I hemmed and hawed, ultimately opting for cloth. The salesman, hoping to get even more of our money, studied us closely and said, "I see you have a pet." How did he know? Was he psychic? Casting a disparaging look at our clothing, he said, "It shows."
You see, our dog sheds. Always, on everything. Not just in summer or winter, but always. So we look as if we're dressed in fur most of the time. But since our dog is "special," we tolerate it. I guess I'm what you might call a stage mother, except the celebrity in the family isn't my child, it's my dog.He's a superstar, a prince among Pugs. In our Avenues neighborhood, we can't leave the house without being hounded for autographs. "Tank, ooh look, it's Tank!" is the typical cry, preceding a stampede of children and adults who smother him with hugs and kisses. Nary a word for me, merely the arm at the end of the leash. (I have a call in to Leonardo DiCaprio's mother to discuss how to deal with this.)
Tank is a big boy, hence his name, which was bestowed on him at birth by the breeder. I wanted to change it to something more mellifluous, but my son wouldn't hear of it, wailing, "What if I were adopted and the people wanted to call me something else?" A valid argument, I agreed. Still, seeing as how Tank's mother is Quail Hill's Periwinkle and his father is Champion Sheffield's Crimson Pirate II, I decided "Tank" was too blue-collar. Fearful of rejection by the American Kennel Club, we registered him as Rouda Roost's Tanqueray, suggestive of both our domicile and my husband's favorite gin.
Tank may be the most lovable dog in the world, or at least here in Salt Lake City, but like most superstars, he's very high-maintenance. A monogrammed L.L. Bean dog bed filled with cedar chips is not good enough for his Tankiness to sleep upon. No, he greatly prefers snuggling into my Laura Ashley flannel sheets, preferably on the day I change the linens. Among his perks for being so darned cute are thrice-daily walks to satisfy his nose for canine news, chauffeured rides to and from the groomer, a pantry stocked with his favorite foods and pre-arranged play dates to alleviate ennui. And of course, trips to the vet at the slightest provocation.
Recently, my friend Laura, the president of Tank's fan club, came for dinner. Even before I had taken her coat, she ran to find Tank, who was at that very moment in the kitchen performing quality control on the appetizers. Laura, herself a Pug owner, obviously had missed her true calling as a private detective. "What's this on his face? Is this an abcess? You better take him to the vet tomorrow." Tank spent most of that evening in her lap.
The next morning at the vet's office, I was forced to endure, for the millionth time, the entire office staff squealing over the adorable puppy. Sick of it, I said, "Puppy, my eye! He's 4, and that's 28 in human years, certainly too old to be fawned over anymore." Dr. Wilson appeared and hugged Tank enthusiastically, liberally dropping doggie treats on the floor. Glowering at me, he asked Tank, "Has she been washing your face regularly?"
"I think I do it the regular way," I answered.
"That's not what I meant," he barked back. (Working with animals all day will do that to a person.)
Laden with pills, potions and detailed instructions on doggie skin care, I held the back door open for Tank to get in. Offended, he immediately jumped to the front passenger seat, preferring its more expansive view.
By the way, he just loves those leather seats.