Friday, December 3, 2010
Affection Ignorant of Fault
It's been approximately 18 months, two weeks, four days, and a couple hours since we rescued our little Border Collie, Maddie, from the chopping block. And I don't think she's yet finished revealing all her neurosis.
I've never been much of a fan of the herding breeds. Their pendulums tend to swing either too standoffish or too obsequious. They slink. They cower. They eyeball you from across the room. They con and cajole and bargain. They plan. I'm used to dogs that wear their hearts and their zest for life on their sleeves. Dogs that live in the now, that approach life in a straightforward manner, that are easy to figure out and easy to train. Pit bulls, for instance. Also, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Dobies. You know, the frat boys of the dog world. Not the tortured artists.
Maddie, she is such the Van Gogh. Drama is her middle name. Although she can certainly beat you to the ignore when she wants to.
Her list of fears are legion: kids, cameras, bicycles, fly swatters, water, gunshots, thunder, the crinkle of the bread bag (but not aluminum foil).
Then there are things she will fearlessly stalk down and attack with a grim determination that makes Ivan look ADD: Birds, squirrels, mice, lizards, chipmunks, and automobiles (unless you stick your head out the window and glower at her so that she knows you are part of the machine and have not actually been eaten up by it.)
Then there are the "behaviors." Whereas Ivan gladly gobbles up his dinner each and every day, twice a day, Maddie is another story. I've never seen a dog carefully suck the soft food off the hard bits, meticulously spit them onto the floor next to the bowl, and then refuse to finish her meal until you scoop up all the discarded bits and place them back into the bowl.
She also refuses to sleep with us in the bed. Not that I want her to, but she won't even get up when invited. Not until the next morning when it's time to wake up, and then she'll jump on the bed and make a nuisance of herself. But she does sleep with the babysitter and her husband.
Also, she regularly walks backwards. Not sideways and not just for a few steps. But full on backwards for multiple feet at a time. I know dogs can do this, but I've never seen them do it in quite the way she does. Ivan, for instance, if he reaches an obstacle, he either tries to go through it, go around it, or wait for someone to remove it. Not Maddie. She walks herself backwards with a precision and grace that's kind of like that scene in the Exorcist when Linda Blair spins her head all the way around: fascinating and yet utterly freaky at the same time.
Which I guess is really the best way to describe her. Freaky. But I've decided to love her anyway.