Sunday, July 15, 2012

Meet Trista

This morning I woke up rather abruptly.  I was lying on my back, an unusual position for me, near the edge of the bed.  I felt some scratching and scrambling across my belly and realized groggily a dog was trying to get into bed with me, and using my body as traction to do so.  I have a high bed, too high for dogs to get in naturally, and I'm not the type to buy those little carpeted stairs that dogs can take to get into bed with you.  Dogs belong on the floor in soft comfy dog beds, people belong on old swayed people beds, and no stairs should bridge the spaces.  

No anthropomorphism here.

I might put hats on the dogs for Christmas, but that's about it.  Greyhounds look pretty cute in hats, you gotta admit.

Anyway, this morning dog paws were digging in my stomach, tiny dog nails were scratching my arms, floppy dog ears were slapping my shoulders, and back legs were scrabbling on the end of the mattress, trying to get a foothold.  And, I remembered yes, I have a new puppy; she doesn't know about sleeping late, about beds being for people only.  Then I noticed another sensation.  There were four dog paws grabbing my belly for traction, not two.  The older dog was taking her cue from the puppy and also was trying to get into bed.  I opened my eyes and saw two dog heads right above me.

"Cherry!  You know better!"

And, then I heard it.  A hissing sound.

The cat was beside my head, right on my pillow.  The cat who IS allowed in the bed, the one who sleeps beside me each night. I realized that the cat has not yet had the opportunity to teach the puppy who is the boss.

And, I also realized, she may end up doing so, right on my face.

The puppy managed to scramble up into the bed and was lying in my belly, chewing my fingers, helicoptering her tail, squirming into my body, just inches from the cat, who continued hissing.  Cherry, the older dog, couldn't make it and was whining in defeat.

Anything I did was bound to be wrong in this dangerous situation.  I had to try anyway. Nobody was coming to help, and I would have to manage to get out of bed without getting scratched.

But how?

I gently petted the cat at the base of her tail until she calmed down, then pushed her a little out of the way.  I sat up, and grabbed the puppy's collar and asked her to get off the bed.  This relieved Cherry, who calmed down.  And, I got up to have coffee, trailed into the kitchen by animals.

My indoor cat, Pixel, has lived all her life with a series of dogs.  She's been through an Australian Shepherd (who lived 17 years), a Labrador (13), and now is on her 3rd greyhound: Stoli who died about a year ago of cancer,  and current dogs,  Cherry, who is 3 and now Trista, who is 4 months old.    Pixel is about as exited about these predators dogs as one would imagine.  She spends much of her life glaring balefully at them, and hiding in the dining room chairs and swiping at them as they go past, just to teach them who is boss. She has trained every dog we have had to cower before her.   For a while, we were down to just the one dog, Cherry, but now there is this puppy and she knows she's going to have to train a new dog all over again.  She must be feeling like it will never end, this series of dogs.  I know all she wants is to be alone with me, curled in my lap, and bossing me around for that mysterious thing that cats are always asking for that we can never figure out.


I can't give her a dog-free life, but I can give her a safe zone: my bed, curled up in my stomach.  So, no dogs allowed, sorry Trista.

I have heard the voices of incredulity out in the blogosphere.  Wait?  You have a terminal illness?  And, you just got a puppy?  A dog likely to outlive you?

First, I am hoping that isn't the case.  I feel good right now. And, life goes on, does it not?  Am I expected to forgo all joys in life, even if it means that my husband will end up with two dogs and no wife some day?  (He likes dogs, and hell, maybe walking a greyhound will attract a new woman for him.  Trust me when I say that in NorCal, greyhounds are not common dogs and people stop you on the street to ask you about them.)

Besides, Trista is not for me. She's Cherry's pet.    After the roof incident, Cherry has never been the same.  She has turned into what they call a "spook" greyhound.  She's always been timid, but now she won't come out of the bedroom and she's afraid of the ceiling.  I have been working with her and making her face her fears, but unless you are Cesar Milan, teaching a dog not to be afraid of invisible people on the ceiling isn't as easy as you think.

The logic behind a new dog was this:  a dog could do in a few days what I could spend months on.  A dog can help Cherry decide what is scary and what isn't.  And, when I found out there was a greyhound puppy available, I pounced. A puppy won't be overly aggressive and frighten Cherry more, but will be fearless and can take control.   I have the time to train a puppy; I have the desire.  She's a puppy but she is a greyhound puppy, not a labrador puppy.  She is mellow.    I want a well-behaved, highly trained dog and the best way is to start when they are pups.  It's been on my bucket list to do agility training with a dog - I may not get there or have the energy for competition but I can still do the fun training.   I love the greyhound breed and you just don't find puppies that often, so I knew it was destiny.  The classes will give me a reason to leave the house and then if I do get sick, at least she'll be well-behaved for my husband.

See?  Logic.

Cherry has responded. They ran greyhound races in the backyard all day the first day. Cherry, being a former professional athlete, won by a mile and Trista kept cheating, cutting through the middle.  If you have never seen greyhounds run, it's a beautiful thing and some day I will post a video for you.

Now that Trista steals Cherry's toys, Cherry is showing interest in them again.   She still hides but it's only been two days and all I have to do is call Trista's name and magically two dogs show up.  I see her more now than I did the past month, so that can't be bad.

I have a slight  problem.  I cannot remember the name Trista.  I think chemo-brain has used up all available names in my head and there is no room for more.  I even call my younger son by the oldest son's name, even though he moved out four years ago.   I can't remember the names of even close friends when I see them (you didn't know that, did you?) and Trista is not sticking.  I'm trying to train her but am calling her Cherry or Puppy.... I can remember Puppy so forgive me if her name ends up being puppy, I sure didn't plan it.  Chemo brain, as it gets worse, makes it nearly impossible to recall things quickly.  Like names and words.  Eventually you get there but it's a struggle with things you are supposed to know.

In the meantime, if you have a suggestion for a dog name that somebody with chemo brain might remember, post it below.  Our family hasn't come up with many suggestions.

Another thing I never, ever do is let dogs get on the furniture.  Ever.
Trista on her first night with me.  Yes,, she is only 4 1/2 months old, she just looks much bigger in that picture.  She is still very much the puppy.


  1. I like Trista! That was my favorite Bachelorette on the popular reality show and her marriage to Ryan has LASTED! True love! Give it some time. She is beautiful!

  2. Throw the rules out and let them on the furniture, puppy and cherry will love on you when the days are icky and when they are good. Pixel will still sleep on you as well!

  3. Trista is pretty. Hopefully it sticks in your chemo brain. I named my female dog Jezebel. Initially I wanted Jasmine but that was my bosses dogs name and I felt funny stealing it. Jezebel has definitely turned out to be the winner for this little one and it's a relatively rare name and I like the saucy implication of it. I haven't heard another dog called Jezebel yet and she has frequented many a dog park and dog beach. If Jezebel sticks, feel free to steal it.

  4. Should I suggest "Chemo"? Nah, maybe not... how about "Puppy"... it'll be cute when she's older. Congrats on the new addition to the family!

  5. Love your writing and share your love of animals. We currently have a lab retriever, 2 bunnies (one lop and 1 dwarf bunny) and an aquatic turtle who lives in a kiddie pool in the backyard. He loves climbing up on the rocks and basks for hours. While I was reading about an easy name to remember,I found it ironic that my first dog's father's name was Kimo.

  6. Call her Pie. Cherry and Pie go together. One name will trigger the other. Plus the new dog is such a widdle cootie pie, wants him ears wubbed...


    Puppies and babies do that to me. Sorry.

    1. love this! Blossom also goes with Cherry!

  7. Why not Poppy? It's close to puppy, but still an actual name...

  8. I like Pie and Poppy. Will have to bring it to the family. Debby, you cracked me up! :)

  9. How about Blossom (as in Cherry blossom)

  10. Those names are great! We might try Poppy - very clever. Chemo-brain isn't going to allow me to learn a new name so I can just call her puppy and if anybody asks her name it's Poppy. :) I like Blossom too but my son doesn't. Mostly, I just say "Cherry" and two dogs come running. They both think their name is Cherry right now. :)


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