Bambi the Boxer was a short-lived member of the family, and I fear that I was the reason she got kicked out. She knocked little infant me down a flight of stairs while racing to attack the Washing Machine. She was a little hyper. My parents gave her away to a loving family, where I’m sure she appreciated not having a toddler in the way when the infernal Washing Machine attacked.
The story behind the arrival in our home of Phoebe the Afghan Hound is one of parents giving in to the unrelenting pestering of their children. I had wanted a pet for the longest time, at one point becoming so desperate that I kept earthworms in Tupperware in the backyard. My parents started small pet-wise, beginning with Petunia the (shockingly male) guinea pig, but after a number of unfortunate rodent adventures, they opted for a heartier species.
Phoebe is best remembered for her food-related antics. She ate an entire roll of Bubble Tape (which ended up stuck in her extremely long ear-hair), a huge glass jar of jelly beans (just the beans), a box of Cheerios (in which her head got stuck)–whatever she could get her paws on!
When we got Phoebe, I was around 7 years old and was one of those girls who was obsessed with horses. Phoebe was TALL and sleek and fast, which to me translated directly into HORSE. I would play imaginary games where I was a (lady) knight and she was my gallant steed. The one problem with this scenario was that Phoebe wouldn’t let me ride on her back. Which was totally lame behavior for a gallant steed. So I started riding real horses. I think that Phoebe was quietly grateful.
My family has owned a lot of Boxers (as you can see), but by far the best of them, arguably the best dog ever (aside from Peter), was Benjamin Box.
My parents got Benny as a tiny puppy one summer while my brother and I were at camp. When my mom came to pick me and my brother up, she brought him with her. My mom got me first, and we drove with Benny to Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire to collect my brother. We had to spend the night at the lake before getting him, and so the three of us–Mom, Benny, and me–hit the town. We tried to get Benny to swim (he was terrified of the waves) and that night we played miniature golf with him tucked in our sweatshirts.
Benny really liked rocks. He’d push them around the yard, he’d chew on them, he’d hide them in his jowls to try to sneak them into the house. You’d have to tell him to “drop it” before letting him in from the backyard, and inevitably, a large, slobber-covered rock would plummet from his jaws.
What I remember most about Benny was how human he seemed. He had these soulful brown eyes, and you could tell there was more than just “chew the rock, eat the kibble” going on inside his velveteen head. Once, when I was really upset about some high school something, I remember him sitting beside me and putting his paw around my shoulders to comfort me. Now that’s a good dog, I tell you.
Bearing arguably the worst pet name ever, Covey the Boxer was a master escape artist, baguette thief, and back-up singer.
The name was my mother’s choice and referred to the white markings on the back of Covey’s neck, which my mom thought looked exactly like a quail (no joke). A group of quails is called a covey, hence Covey. I wanted to name her Jenny, so we’d have Benny and Jenny Box. My brother wanted to name her “Smurfit,” which was how he spelled Smurfette at the time. Somehow, my mom’s name won out.
Covey could get out of and into anything. She busted out of locked crates, as in we clipped the door closed with extra latches and she still got out. She escaped from our fenced-in yard, no matter how many times we reinforced it. She opened closed doors to infiltrate forbidden rooms of the house. We have plausible theories explaining most of her Houdini-esque escapes, but we still have no idea how she got out of the crate.
Related to all this escaping is her thievery. Once, Covey returned from her out-of-the-yard jaunt with a baguette. Another time, a stuffed Lamb Chop toy. We have no idea from what picnic or child’s stroller these items were pilfered, but we amused ourselves imagining the reactions of the hungry and woebegone child victims of her crimes.
Covey owes her singing career to me. I took classical singing lessons in high school and college, and when I practiced singing at home, Covey would sit in my room and listen to me. One night, she pursed her jowls and sang along. Now, you might think she was simply howling, but no, I swear, she sang. She had a lovely “Ooooooh.”
My mom got DeeDee the Boston Terrier the last summer that I lived in my parents’ house, right after I graduated college. From the start, DeeDee was a love, but a nervous little girl. If Covey did something bad, which was often, you were more likely to find DeeDee trembling at the scene of the crime than the real criminal.
To soothe herself, Dee loved to suck on fleece toys, which we called “mothering.” DeeDee could often be found buried in pillows on the couch, fleece “mother” between her jaws, sucking away, tiny little stub of a tail wagging. If not mothering, she was snuggling. DeeDee liked to sleep with anyone caught supine on couch, bed, or floor (she was a little “hot water doggle”) and would wake the sleeper when she needed something (breakfast, Out) by standing on his/her chest and staring at him/her for several minutes (which we dubbed the “dog scan”).
Although I’m generally against putting dogs in clothes (my dogs wore winter coats, but that’s because it’s dern cold up here and they’d freeze their little short-haired tails off without them), Dee was the kind of dog for whom such things were invented. In the above photo, DeeDee is wearing a tutu that my sister-in-law made for her. I made her a little red-and-white checked pinafore. She did not enjoy either of these items, and spent the majority of time that she was in them trembling.
The first dog who was ever really mine. I found him on Petfinder while procrastinating from studying for the New York State Bar Exam. He’d been rescued from a kill shelter–KILL SHELTER! I tell you. Who could kill such an amazing buddy? Well, thank goodness they didn’t because he was the best dog ever. We adopted our cat, Oscar, at the same time.
Peter is a mixed breed, and since he’s a rescue, we have no idea what he’s a mix of. Our best guess is that he’s part pug, part Boston, and so we have dubbed him a Pugston Terrier (I’ve heard this mix called a “Bug”, but Pugston is so much cuter–hear that AKC?).
I think that Peetles was the handsomest young gentleman on earth. Other people think differently. Every time that my grandfather saw Pete, he would say, “That is the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen.” Considering that my grandfather was a man of very few words (at any given family occasion, five, tops), such a statement shows how very strongly he felt about my buddy’s appearance. Thanks, PopPop.
Peter thinks of himself as a tough guy. When we adopted him, he had scars on his forehead and one scratched eye, all testaments to the rough times he had kickin’ butt on the streets of Trenton (which is how I imagine his time before joining our family). He would get into a lot of trouble at the dog park by walking up to dogs that outweighed him by fifty pounds and humping their legs. Some of these dogs were amused by this; some were not. Zeus, for example, was not amused.
For a dog rescued off the street, Peter was very particular about his things. He didn’t like other dogs playing with his toys, or playing with their own toys if he was at their house, or playing with anything at all if it didn’t involve him also getting attention. He wouldn’t eat his kibble if it didn’t also contain some delicious human-food treat (bacon, please).
Alas, Peetles had an Achilles’ Heel: shall we call it the Peetles’ Knee? His back end stopped functioning towards the end. Luckily we had a baby, so when we took him on walks and his butt started hurting, we put him in the stroller’s basket, which we dubbed the “Peetles Basket.”
Zeus E. Boy
(Born in 2000) 2004-2010
Though technically not my dog at all, Zeus the Boxer was been a huge part of my family life. My parents found him on Petfinder (I was adamant that if they wanted another dog, they had to adopt it–there are so many great dogs just waiting to be adopted! Adopt one today!:) and immediately fell in love because (a) he looked just like Benny Box and (b) my dad’s first boxer, which he got when he was a little dude, was named Zeus and on the adoption listing, Zeus E. Boy was called “Zeus II.” I think it’s telling about Zeus’s personality that he was picked up by my mother and brother at a bar called Fuglies, he likes beer, and has a tattoo.
Zeus looks like a tough guy, but in reality was a love. Unless you were a stranger. Or a toddler. Or a lizard. Then you were in trouble. Sometimes he growled while licking your face and wagging his stumpy little tail, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
Zeus’s obsessions: water (the dog couldn’t get enough to drink…it turned out to be a medical problem), balloons (he kind of lost it over balloons), lizards (he saw them everywhere–EVERYWHERE, I TELL YOU!), my brother (his Boy).
We adopted Kerry right before the 2004 presidential election, hence the name. There was some debate in our household at the time as to whether she should be Kerry (Democrat for President) or Carrie (as in Bradshaw. We were deep into the TV series Sex and the City at the time.) It was election season and we had the fever, so Kerry it was.
Kerry was a wee pup when we got her (though the adoption agency told us she was a year old, she was more like six months) and so we put her in a crate when we weren’t home. Dog training books tell you that dogs love their crates, and many do, but not Kerry. When in her crate, she’d cry, and not any normal dog cry–Kerry would whistle and squeal like a bird. So we call her the BirdDog, or simply Bird. I’m sure this caused my daughter some confusion.
Kerry was a ratter, a born hunter. She loved to run and chew and dig. Unfortunately for the Bird, when we adopted her, we lived in a one bedroom apartment. But my in-laws lived in the middle of the woods in Vermont. Whenever we’d visit them, Kerry would transform from nervous city dog into the BR’DRG (pronounced bur-derrrrrg). She would tear around the yard, sniffing and digging and leaping over logs. We’d let her Out and she’d race into the woods, returning twenty minutes later out of breath with a huge smile on her jowls.
We were able to trust the BR’DRG to return home because we knew her alter ego, Kerry, needed her human family. Kerry loved to snug and to be scritched (she has very itchy ears, and sides–all over, really). And there are ways to calm the inner BR’DRG (and save our furniture): we give her rawhide chewies and let her play with Red Dot.
Oscar the Maine Coon cat joined our family as a result of a standoff between my husband and myself over whether I could get myself a dog. (It should be noted that my husband is a cat person; we disprove the rule that cat and dog people can’t get along.) My husband pointed out that I was graduating from law school and looking forward to a summer of studying for the bar exam to be followed by a job at a big law firm in the fall—not the ideal time to adopt a dog. But I would not be deterred by such things as reason! I had grown up with dogs; I NEEDED a dog!
I spent all my procrastination time from studying for the bar scanning profiles on Petfinder and one day came across the most adorable little mug, Peter’s smush face. I came home that day, photo in hand, and started the hard bargaining.
Finally, my husband and I struck a deal: I could get Peter if he could get a cat.
I promptly found Oscar at the same shelter; we went out to meet them and fell in love—me with Peter and my husband with Oscar. It took a little while longer for us to fall in love with the other’s pet. In the end, Oscar was a furry head decoration on the back of the couch and a sociable guy who loved parties. Peter never did fall in love with Oscar. However, Kerry and Oscar = BFFs.
Angus & Shadow
We promised my daughter kittens for her birthday, and kittens she got. We found Angus and Shadow at a local shelter, and adopted them at the start of the quarantine period (following social distancing guidelines☺). These boys were rescued barn kittens and goodness, did it show! They were skittish around noise, light, people—everything! They wouldn’t let us even pet them at first! Being a dog person, I found this behavior unnatural for a pet. (Oscar was always friendly and sociable.) I feared they would never warm up to us. But we’ve learned over the months that patience and persistence and gentleness can win over even the most skittish kitten…that, and some chicken treats☺ Their personalities have come out and they love to roll around for tummy rubs and jump for feathered flying toys. I am excited to expand my life in pets to include these rambunctious brothers.