Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Dog's Life by Gail Roughton (as told to her by Max Branan)

I used to be an only dog. I remember those days. Life was good. Mine was the only food bowl on the floor. All the toys in the toy box were mine. No other belly vied for attention when I rolled over on my back. The last bite rule applied only to me. (The last bite of food any of my humans were eating, I mean. You know, that last bite of anything that tastes so good? The rule that it belongs to the dog, no matter how hungry the human is?  Wanted to clarify that, didn’t want y’all to think I was the one doing any biting. I would never!) At least, I think I remember those days. It was so long ago.

I’m Max, by the way. Max Branan. There’re eight humans in my family, Mama and Daddy of course—y’all know her as Gail Roughton ‘cause she writes under her maiden name, says it’s her love song to her daddy or some such—my human sister, Becca, my human brothers Lee and Patrick, Becca’s husband Jason, and Becca and Jason’s puppies, Austin and Kinsley. See, my birth Mom lived with Becca and Jason and got herself in the family way. Becca didn’t believe it at first because she said her dog didn’t do things like that. As if. What’d she think my Mom was? A doggy saint?  Anyway, all my puppy brothers and sisters got new homes but I’m the one who lucked out, ‘cause Patrick picked me out of all ‘em to bring back to Home Central.

Patrick did a search and told Mama that Max was the most popular name for male dogs and Maya the most popular name for female dogs, but that’s not why my name’s Max, un-uh. My name’s Max because about three days after Patrick got me vaccinated up with all the puppy shot prelims at the vet’s office and brought me home from Becca and Jason’s house I got sick. Real sick. So back to the vet I went and they said I had that parvo thing. With a fifty-fifty shot of making it out of the vet hospital alive. But I’m tough. I made it through with flying colors. And when I went back home, Mama (that’s Gail Roughton to y’all) said I looked as pitiful as the Grinch’s dog Max on the cartoon version of The Grinch That Stole Christmas. So that’s why I’m Max. No popularity contest or anything involved. And boy, did they spoil me rotten or what?

So there I am. Dog heaven. I was about three, I guess. And then Jason found this stray on the side of the road. He thought she was a German Shepherd and probably a couple of months old. So he took her home. At first Becca thought it’d be great to have a German Shepherd for their baby – Austin wasn’t born yet, he came about two weeks after that – since my humans used to have a big white German Shepherd they still talked about. Only problem was, this gal liked to eat furniture. And she was scared of her own shadow and didn’t know the meaning of the words “house-broke”. Well, Mama’s such a soft touch. She took one look at her and then sent Patrick over to collect her. He named her Maya. To go with Max. Not so much because it’s the most popular female dog name as for the “M” thing.

And uh – by the way – German Shepherd, my wagging tail. As near full Doberman as makes no never mind. Mama and Patrick knew it first time they looked at her. The undocked tail and ears made everybody else hard to convince, until they saw a Dobie with undocked tail and ears on Animal Planet. Then they all yelled in amazement, “Hey! Maya’s a Dobie?!” Mama and Patrick just rolled their eyes. She was already as tall as my stomach when she first walked in the door and I ain’t no shrinking violet, I’m a fifty-five pounder myself. The vet really blew it, too. Told my folks she’d be about fifty pounds full grown. Try 110 pounds last weigh-in. Maya’s Mama’s shadow. And I got to confess, yeah, I fell in love too. Eventually. Oh, no hanky-panky or anything, both Maya and I have made that trip to the vet, but yeah, I love the girl. Mainly because Austin was born two weeks after Maya got to Home Central. And I liked the little bundle of screams and wet diapers, don’t get me wrong, but Maya? Oh, man, she fell in love. Took all my share of the eye pokes and pulled tail. All I had to do was walk up and lick his face every now and then. That kid grew up laying on her, sitting on her, standing on her. She loved it all. We got him grown to darn near human size and what did Becca do? She brought in a brand-new one and the whole thing started all over again. Though I got to admit, that Kinsley’s a pistol. Her “Hiya!’ makes my tail wag, I just can’t stop myself.

Only thing about Maya is – you got to watch the sudden noises. Mama knocked a kitchen chair across the floor once when she was sweeping. And Maya – man, she moved like lightening. Next thing I know, she’s sitting on Daddy’s lap on the sofa, all hundred plus pounds of her, with her arms wrapped around his neck! She looked just like that Scooby-Doo character when he gets scared and jumps in Shaggy’s arms, you know?

And then one Saturday night when Austin was about two, Patrick came home from work and called Daddy out to his truck. Now, that was weird, right there, man, ‘cause in this family, when anything’s wrong, you call Mama first. But I figured maybe his truck engine was making a strange noise or something. Not. Daddy walked back in and announced, “Patrick’s brought home a puppy.” Mama goes “For real?!” And Daddy says, “Oh, yeah. Says he was sitting by his truck in the parking lot when he got off work. ” So Patrick walks in with this little – and I mean little – bundle of black and white fur and sits it on the couch by Austin. Austin says, “Baby!” Funny, he was only two, but he knew that was a baby. Must be some universal baby language. Lee looked at Mama and said, “Did it ever occur to you that there’s always a baby something or other in this house?” Mama looked pitiful and said, “Oh, yeah.”

Poor Mama. She got another shadow with that boy. Patrick named him Murphy. Gotta keep that “M” thing going. He weighed maybe four pounds but he thought he was a Great Dane. He didn’t bother me that much, all I had to do was growl real low and he’d back off but Maya? Guess you can’t beat the mother instinct. He was all over her. All the time. Don’t know how that gal kept her sanity, if Austin wasn’t climbing all over her, Murphy was. Sometimes both of ‘em together. And feisty? That Murphy, he gets going, you’ll swear you need to call an Exorcist from the sounds coming out of his mouth! He’s topped out at twenty-two pounds, so he’s way the smallest of us, but dang, is he annoying sometimes! You can’t even lay your head on a pillow! And he’s always all over Maya!

Now, as a side note, I heard Mama tell Daddy, “Patrick conveniently forgot about showing me a picture of a friend’s litter of puppies on FaceBook a few weeks ago. Funny, how they were all little black and white bundles of fur, just like Murphy. Found him in the parking lot, right! In a box with a friend standing guard till Patrick got there!”

So there you have it. How I went from an only dog to a trio. But it’s not so bad most times. I guess it’d be pretty boring if I just had my humans. Like at Christmas, it’s kinda nice to have the two of ‘em in the middle of things with me. Gets kinda irritating, that last bite of food having to be split into three bites all the time, but still. Keeps me young. Hey Murphy!! Wait up!! That’s my stuffed squirrel and I don’t have all the stuffing out yet!!! Oh!  And before I forget, you can check out Mama here--   She's on the computer a lot, and I'm told I and the rest of the gang might make an appearance in an upcoming book she's got brewing. Which would only be fair, I mean, we put a lot of effort into distracting her when she's been working too hard.