It’s the crazy ones we remember most fondly
We had eight great years with Schotzie but we owned her for fourteen. She was my second choice for a dog after Caesar’s test came back positive for heart-worms at the pound in Tallahassee. She was half boxer, half pit-bull, all hellion, tan and white with black diamonds around her eyes like Alice Cooper in his prime. Her head was oversized, the shape of a viper’s but with sails for ears. The oddity of the dog was punctuated by a broken tail, permanently pointing down, wagging just a few degrees back and forth like a rear windshield wiper, causing her to sit in her “sexy” pose, rear legs always to the side. Aimee tried to warn me. The reason I wanted a dog in the first place was because I so loved her sainted Cheerio. “That dog is too wild,” she said, nothing like Cheerio. I wanted a dog with spirit. Schotzie, a misspelling of the German word for sweetheart, was possessed.
The first time she went to Aimee’s apartment, Schotzie jumped on her bed and emptied her bladder, an apt introduction. She ran away every chance she got, a keen observer of a crack in the door. A dog so fast she could catch squirrels cannot be chased; we merely followed her until she was willing to come home, trying to keep the cars from hitting her on busy Miccosukee Road. Schotzie ate irreplaceable books, bags of rubber bands, chunks of concrete, two-part epoxy when she could get it, and anything left within a foot of the edge of the counter top. She ate the rent once, $800 slid under our door by our tenants in Tallahassee. We followed her around for days re-collecting the rent, washing bills, piecing together serial numbers in the hopes of getting to 51% of each digested and excreted slip of legal tender.
Her worst trait was that she jumped all over people, a problem eventually solved with a cage called Dogvilla. This canine resort, metal covered in brown faux wicker, might have saved her life as she finally proved to be trainable. We could put a treat in Dogvilla and she would go in and lay down. Eventually she went in with only voice prompts and even hand gestures. Much later and well into her dotage, we had a cat carrier in the house for some reason. Aimee got a mischievous look in her eye and called to Schotzie, “Dogvilla. Schotzie, Dogvilla!” Even though we gave Dogvilla away years before the old girl still knew to go to the cat carrier and tried to get her hydrocephalic head inside. With Dogvilla we began to feel like we had an almost-normal dog.
When Aimee was pregnant with Zander there was considerable hand-wringing on the part of relatives about having “that dog” in the house with a baby, but Aimee and I felt fine about it. When the baby came, Schotzie seemed preternaturally calm around him, protective too, and she has always been Zander’s favorite dog. For the last few years of her life she slept in his room, the labored snores of the mighty beast transferred from the father’s comfort to the son’s.
Our animals mark long periods in our lives. I can see in earlier photos the nascent laugh-lines that, 14 years hence, are now just wrinkles. The 28-year old holding the wild dog, newly in love with the woman who would become his bride, is now in his forties, married for over a decade, with two lovely children. Saying good-bye to Schotzie is also to part with a living connection to the people we were then. Fourteen years ago we were the kind of people who could love that damn dog and we still are today.
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