I’m pretty sure our dog is from a different planet. And not necessarily a canine planet either.
Scamp the Deranged Shih Tzu has these demented little rules, you see. Like don’t pet him when he is sleeping (which is most of the time) because he will growl menacingly and bare his tiny, deadly shih tzu teeth even though he is still completely asleep.
If you persist in disturbing him by continuing to pet him lovingly, he will take your arm off. One millisecond after he wakes up.
Also, never, ever try to take his stuffed duck or teddy bear away from him when he’s playing with it.
“Playing with” his stuffed animal consists of this tubby little black and white mutt (Scamp) who looks a lot like a stuffed animal himself, chomping on it and shaking it violently back and forth growling like a psychotic Rottweiler, literally ripping the stuffing out of his toy until he (Scamp) either gets dizzy or the duck (Stuffed Animal) becomes completely disemboweled. The fluffy filling floating around the living room like an indoor snowstorm.
And then my Better Half loving replaces the stuffing so the spoiled little psycho can do it again.
If you try to play with him like a normal dog — for example, if you attempt to play tug-of-war with Scamp and his stuffie, you will most certainly immediately lose that arm and possibly part of a leg. In a flash, he explodes in a deadly whirling dervish tornado of Tasmanian devil teeth.
And we try not to even think about what would happen if we tried to take away his food or one of his special doggie treats. Pure suicide.
Unless of course you are my long-suffering wife, whom he adores even more than his special doggie treats. When she’s out of the house he lays by the front door whimpering sadly for hours, and when she’s home he’s never more than five cm away from her. Usually sprawled happily on her lap.
And he’s so jealous of her attention that when she answers the phone in the kitchen — the phone attached to the wall — he will bark loudly and incessantly and scratch at her leg until she has to cut her conversation short or switch to the cordless phone and hide in the basement or out in the garden shed.
And just recently I was at the kitchen table having supper with the family, filling my face and minding my own business when suddenly, completely out of the blue a wild animal viciously attacked my foot!
Apparently, unbeknownst to me, Scamp had been sound asleep under the table, perilously close to my feet. And when I innocently moved my foot I must have touched him with it because the next thing I knew I thought my toes were being simultaneously stabbed by knives and hit with a sledge hammer.
I yelled and leapt up, scaring the wits out of my entire family, and slamming my chair into the living room railing behind me. There was so much force in the surprise attack and in my reaction that I broke the leg on the wooden chair and nearly had a serious heart malfunction.
I also limped for a week.
OK, so he’s over 11 years old and he’s diabetic and pretty well blind and mostly deaf. And while we do cut some sympathetic slack for our little Helen Keller canine, truth is, he always was a little deranged and grumpy even when we was a six-week-old pup and non-diabetic and without sensory deprivation.
For one thing, apart from coveting his human “mommy,” Scamp has one other serious obsession. In a word: carrots.
When the rotten kids were little, we would plant a small garden in the back yard. Just a couple of rows of the good stuff. You know, peas and carrots. One year, our unhinged shih tzu discovered how much fun it was to dig in said garden, and although it took him a while on account of him being fairly dense as well as deranged, he eventually discovered that those long orange things that he dug up were actually quite tasty.
So the next year, we put up a little wire fence around the garden box. But once Scamp had tasted the forbidden fruit (in this case, vegetable) there was no stopping him.
One fine summer’s day, we realized we hadn’t seen the dog for quite a while. “He must be outside in the yard,” someone said. And then we looked at each other. Carrots!
We burst outside and sure enough the little wire fence was pushed over and every single carrot had been dug out of the garden. The lawn was literally littered with the leafy green tops of missing carrots and Scamp was chomping away as fast as those little canine canines would chomp.
And, of course, he was also simultaneously growling like a pit bull just in case anybody might come anywhere near him.
But at least his misguided passion for orange root vegetables turned out to be a bit of a good thing. When Dr. Pat, the world’s greatest veterinarian, diagnosed Scamp with canine diabetes several years ago, he told us two things.
“You will have to inject him with insulin twice a day, and unfortunately, he will lose his sight within a few weeks.”
And from that day we humans learned two things.
One, while it’s a colossal bummer when dogs go blind, it is truly amazing how quickly and how well they adapt.
And two, giving a dog a needle twice a day isn’t very much fun for either of us.
But this is where the carrots come in. After many squeamish injection attempts, we found the obvious answer. We cut up a few chunks of carrots and while Scamp is so busy obsessively gobbling them up, he doesn’t even realize he’s being poked with a needle.
And yes, we still do have a tiny garden, with a small fortress protecting it. And every year that blind, deaf and dumb mutt still somehow manages to raid the carrots.
That’s another thing we’ve learned. Never underestimate a deranged shih tzu.
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.