Little Rat Dog

by Brian on September 7, 2009

in A Parent in Israel,Just For Fun

We have been taking care of a cow this summer. No, not an authentic bovine. Rather a cash cow. At least that’s how it was explained to me by my 15-year-old daughter Merav that an adorable little dog would be joining us for the next six weeks.

Adorable is not the word I would have chosen. “Mini” was a runt of an animal, low to the floor, hung like a hotdog, with tall pointy ears, beady eyes and too much Chihuahua in her for my tastes. I nicknamed her “little rat dog.”

Other members of the family called her “Mini Met,” which sounds cute until you translate it into Hebrew where it alternately means “little death” or even worse “Mini is dead.”

If we were getting a full-time pet, it would be small and fluffy like Candy, the toy poodle I grew up with.

But little rat dog was worth NIS 1,000 to Merav for the summer. “I’ll take care of her, don’t you worry,” Merav reassured us.

Little rat dog had come to us from Merav’s friend Kayla who was on vacation in the U.S. during July and August. Kayla’s mother was not a fan of dogs and refused to have the dog in the house without Kayla there too.

Despite my disparaging remarks about little rat dog’s resemblance to a rodent, over time we became rather fond of her. She cuddled up next to us while we watched TV. She pounced playfully on Mr. Platypus, her stuffed toy friend. She shivered with delight at the sound of her leash.

Every night she would curl up with Merav in her bed and wouldn’t leave her side even if Merav didn’t get up until after noon (this being summer and all).

She was also a lip-kisser, which was cute at first until the affection got too French.

Then there were her less than pleasant traits: he shed and farted and, on more than one occasion, pooped in the house.

But the worst was the barking. If she heard a knock on the door or there was a strange sound in the house (like the time I turned a CD of one of my favorite late 70s punk bands, the Buzzcocks, up too loud in my home office), she would yip and yap like she was a dog ten times her size.

She particularly disliked black pants and shoes, which meant that anyone dressed up for Shabbat, as were many of Merav’s guy visitors who came to call during the summer, was subject to the welcoming rat dog treatment.

To make matters worse, our loyal housecleaner for the past 5 years is terrified of dogs. We made sure to lock little rat dog in Merav’s room when Miriam came on Fridays. One time, though, the dog got free. Miriam let out a blood-curdling scream while running away up the stairs to the terrace – you would have thought there was a suicide bomber at the front door.

As Kayla’s return loomed closer, I was looking forward to returning little rat dog. Her evil traits had overwhelmed those momentary bouts of affection.

And then came the news we all feared: Kayla would not be taking little rat dog back again. Her mother said she’d had enough.

“Could we please adopt her?” Merav implored. “Please?” I was resolute in my rejection of her petitions. We tried to find her a good home. Merav’s friend Esther initially agreed, only to be vetoed by her parents.

After much soul searching, we reluctantly returned little rat dog to Kayla for a brief goodbye after which she was to be carted off within a few days to the local pound. I thought of our old downstairs neighbors who had taken in 9 stray cats, fed them, spayed them and loved them. How could we be so cruel?

But it wasn’t fair – to turn us into the bad guys. I resented the situation that had been forced on us. As I imagined little rat dog alone in a cage, without human companionship, barking indiscriminately, it truly broke my heart. Hopefully, she would find a new home quickly. Someone who likes canine kisses better than we do.

At the last moment, little rat dog received a reprieve. Kayla had somehow wheedled her mother into concession. Mom had reluctantly agreed to allow Merav’s friend to keep the dog. We quietly rejoiced. Mini would live. And we might even get visitation rights.

I’m not ruling out the possibility of a dog down the road. There might still be a furry friend in our future someday. But please, just not another little rat dog.

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