Daverio pets meeting, August 2020: Tiny troubles
Agenda: Our people have lost their minds. AKA Phyllis.
Attendees: Walter, (moderator), dachshund, 14 years-old; Virgil, cat, 16; Miriam, dachshund, 13; Kevin, dachshund, 9; Ivy, big dog of mixed parentage, 4; Marty, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, 4; Tom the tortoise, 13; Jenny the turtle, 13; Various assorted fish, 13 years and under.
Walter: Welcome. We’ve much to discuss and my nap time’s fast approaching. I appreciate you all taking on extra hours to spell me from my customary guard duty and kitchen cleanup shifts. My legs don’t bend anymore, so just getting around is exhausting.
Miriam: I don’t mind extra yard-patrol time. My track record for keeping bad people and vermin away is unmatched.
Walter: Miriam, we do appreciate your efforts. We’re all respectful of your lack of mercy for vermin of all sizes. Admirable fearlessness.
Kevin: I’M FEARLESS!
Walter: Kevin, you man the front door and windows behind the couch excellently. Delivery people drop their packages and run. Though, the front porch squirrels are quite brazen, and need to be taught a lesson.
If only we could show them a thing or two.
Ivy: I’ll see what I can do. I might need one of you to create a diversion so I can make a clean getaway — I’m always being watched these days.
Walter: That might be easier, now that our people apparently have gone insane, which brings us to our meeting agenda. It seems they’ve brought home another dog, and this time, a tiny puppy, of all things. Have they forgotten that puppies are a lot of work?! Regardless, it looks like Phyllis is here to stay, so we’ll need to formulate a plan for her assimilation and training.
Miriam: I did not sign up for this.
[Murmurs of assent.]
Walter: And yet, she seems to really like you, Miriam.
Miriam: What’s not to like?
Ivy: You can be kind of mean sometimes.
Miriam: Grrrr …
Walter: Ladies, please — tensions are high. But I posit we can totally spin this to our advantage! Puppies can be molded, shaped like lumps of clay.
Kevin: Program her to do our bidding?!
Walter: Perhaps. At the very least, we could teach her our dachshund ways. She could be a comrade.
Kevin: I don’t know about that — she’s way too small to be threatening.
Ivy: Kevin, you’re 12 lbs.
Kevin: She’s 2.5 lbs!
Marty: She continually harasses me. I’m not sure I can work under these conditions.
Kevin: What exactly is your job, Marty, besides sitting around looking “stately,” hogging precious lap space?
Marty: I provide a valuable service to our people: affection and comfort.
Marty: I don’t like to make waves, but she pulls my ears.
Ivy: She pounces on my tail! Everybody knows my tail’s off limits, even for family and friends.
Walter: She was nipping my tail and feet last night! At least the rest of you can move out of the way or retaliate — all I can do is lie there and growl. But, being the elder statesman and a gracious leader of our expanding group, I say we band together and look at the positives. She’s young, impressionable, but has that moxie and sass we dachshunds appreciate. In fact, I hear she’s one of us, though she doesn’t look it.
Miriam: She’s a half blood: dachshund on her daddy’s side. Her mama’s a chihuahua. I don’t want to sound racist, but uh … chihuahua?
Ivy: I’ve met some really nice chihuahuas. Miriam, you have issues. Phyllis seems pretty easygoing, though sends some mixed signals. She frisks all around me, licks my mouth, and I’m pretty sure she’s play bowing (it’s hard to tell — she’s like a black flea hopping about.) But, when I play bow back, she yips, tucks and does a backwards summersault like a tiny tumbleweed blowing in the wind from my paws. What am I supposed to do with that?
Marty: She play bows to me, but I just blow her off.
Kevin: Marty, I have never seen you play.
Marty: I’m not keen on contact or team sports. Or exercise in general. I play with furry, soft toys, though.
Ivy: Um, “having relations” with the stuffed monkey, is not exactly “playing,” and it’s gross.
Kevin: Yeah, you and that monkey need to get a room. It’s embarrassing.
Ivy: So far, Phyllis sleeps more than she’s awake, so the pestering hasn’t been too bad. I move to let her into the group.
Walter: I second. She’s kinda nice when she’s asleep. I don’t mind sharing my bed with her when she’s unconscious.When she’s passed out, she’s like a wee, warm, wet noodle.
Marty: Mmm … noodles …
Walter: Show of paws to admit Phyllis into the fold — unanimous. Welcome, Phyllis!
— Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.