Introducing Penny the Tiny Dog.
Those who follow this blog know that I spend my summers in Washington State, far from home, where I do mostly agricultural work with my helicopter. Before coming up here this spring, I was excited about the prospect of bringing along Charlie the Dog, our Border Collie mix. My husband was stuck in a 9 to 5 grind and I’d have most of my days free. It made sense to bring Charlie with me to come on my morning walks and play with my friend Pete’s Black Lab in the open spaces of farm country.
But just before my departure, my husband got a new job that made it possible to work from home. Charlie wouldn’t be left home alone all day after all. And he wouldn’t be coming with me to Washington.
Although I have Alex the Bird with me here in Washington, a parrot is not the same as a dog. I’d planned to take Charlie with me just about everywhere I went — I cannot do the same with Alex. I miss the companionship that you can only get from a dog (or a person on the same wavelength that you’re on). So the other day, in a moment of weakness, I stopped by the Quincy Humane Society.
And I left with Penny the Tiny Dog.
To be fair, her name wasn’t Penny. It was Pixie. But people who know me also know that I’d never have a dog named Pixie. Hell, I can barely say the word without being embarrassed.
But she is sort of like a pixie. Full grown and weighing in a just under 4 pounds, she’s absolutely tiny — smaller than most cats I’ve seen. In fact, I had to buy a cat harness for her because the dog harnesses at PetCo we just too darn big.
She’s the kind of dog you see people carrying around everywhere. The kind of dog in purses. The kind of dog people bring into shops, restaurants, and supermarkets as if they’re fashion accessories instead of — well — dogs.
I don’t play that game. A dog is a dog. And while a big, slobbering Great Dane is a different animal from a recently groomed toy terrier, they’re both still animals and need to be treated as such. So Penny won’t spend any time in a purse while she’s with me and she’ll be carried as little as possible. And she certainly won’t go into a place of business other than one that encourages the presence of dogs.
I do try to take her with me everywhere I go — provided it’s not too hot for her to spend some time waiting for me in the truck if necessary. She’s been to Pete’s winery and played with Pete’s Black Lab. She’s been out to the helicopter while I refueled it and buttoned it up for its rest time between flights. She’s been to PetCo twice and has waited in the truck while I’ve run errands in Quincy and Wenatchee and Ephrata. I’ve taught her how to climb up and down the steps into the RV and I’m trying to teach her how to jump in and out of the truck’s cab on her own.
In the evening, when the golf course I’m living on has emptied out for the day, we make the half-mile walk across the fairways and roughs to the two ponds they’ve stocked with trout. She’s fine off-leash, frolicking around, chasing birds and really having the time of her life. I can see that this is all new to her — she’s probably done more running around with me in the past week than she did in the first year of her life. She sniffs around the water’s edge as I throw food into the ponds and the trout make the surface boil. When the food is gone, we walk back. Or maybe I should say that I walk back and she runs all over the place around me until we’re home.
When I leave her alone in the Mobile Mansion, she plays with her toys and drags my shoes around. She hasn’t destroyed anything yet. She likes playing with Alex the Bird’s toys, so whenever Alex drops one from her cage top, she’s on it, chewing away. She has a love-hate relationship with a bell.
She’s not 100% housebroken, which is a bit of a pain in the ass, but we’re working on it.
When I get home from being out for a few hours, she goes nuts. I let her out onto the lawn to do her business and she jumps all over the place, rolling over and over like a crazy dog on the grass.
When I work at my desk, she either curls up into a ball at my feet or stretches out in a sunny spot on the floor for a nap. It’s as if she has two speeds: on and off.
At night, she literally climbs onto my bed — like a cat! — and tucks in next to my body. She’s tried to get under the covers with me, but I won’t let her. I still can’t believe I let her on the bed. She’s the first dog I’ve let sleep on my bed since the German Shepherd we had when I was a kid. But she’s so tiny and she remains absolutely motionless all night long. Turned off.
Technically, I haven’t adopted her. I’m fostering her. But the great folks at Quincy Humane Society encourage fostering for adoption and that’s the path I’m on. But I fully admit that I’m not sure whether she’s the right dog for me. She’s certainly not a replacement for Charlie, or even Jack the Dog before him. She requires too much supervision. She’s so small and not nearly as smart. She needs more attention — more care — to keep her safe.
But for now (at least), she’s a good companion.