The night Tiffany was delivered, my husband and I crouched over her bed, lovingly watching as she nestled down in the covers and made soft whining sounds.
“Despite having fangs and no opposable thumbs, isn’t she just perfect?” I breathed.
My husband nodded, then looked over at me and smiled. Somehow we both knew our lives were never going to be the same.
The next morning I was awakened with kisses--not my husband’s, mind you, but Tiffany’s. From my rapturous response, you would’ve thought I preferred the latter.
“Yes, darlin’! C’mere! C’mere and give momma sugar!” She did as she was told, then I scooped her up, carried her into the kitchen and was about to prepare her food when my husband came in from the office and said, “Already fed her. She’s already gone to the bathroom, too.”
“Which one?” I asked.
“Number One or Number Two?”
“Why didn’t you wake me? I would’ve helped you.”
“Yeah right, honey, you were out cold. She’d still be fussing if I hadn’t taken her to the bathroom.”
I dumped a few pellets in Tiffany’s bowl and set it before her. Putting one hand on my hip, I said, “Dear, I do not like your tone.”
“What tone?” my husband asked. “I’m not giving you a tone.”
“See, dear…there it is again.” I pointedly looked at Tiffany, then back at him. “I want our home to be a sanctuary of love. A place where no harsh word is ever spoken, and no hand ever raised out of anger.”
Rolling his eyes at my tone, my husband just topped off his coffee mug and went back into the office.
Not even midmorning and I already knew it was going to be one of those days.
My premonition was right. By noon, I had crashed my husband’s computer (oh, no big deal; just the one with all our business/tax information). While my husband ran the hard drive up to a computer repair center, I hooked my laptop up to the printer and tried printing out the revised version of my manuscript.
It did not go so well.
Every other page out of 296 decided to jam, and I spent the better part of the afternoon with my arm stuck up the printer’s entrails while hoping this wasn’t going to turn into a fiasco requiring either amputation or the Jaws of Life.
Not only was it slightly disconcerting having my extremities used as a machine's chew toys, but the whole time Tiffany kept sticking her black nose under the office door to sniff and whine.
An hour and six pages passed before I decided that dear Tiffy must really need to use the loo even though she’d just gone over lunch. Hooking a leash onto her collar, I took her outside in the pouring rain. I’m telling you, that Bichon -- who before would’ve marked a hydrant if it was being used to extinguish a Chicago fire -- now decided she was bladder shy. Turning around and peering up at me with big brown eyes, she seemed to be asking, “Can I have a little privacy, here?”
Rainwater was dripping from my eyebrows by the time Tiffany finally finished doing her business. We ran back into the apartment, and she shook herself dry. Feeling frisky, she lowered her forepaws to the floor and wagged her plumed tail.
“Now don’t you bark,” I warned, shaking my finger at her. In most situations, having a dog bark is really not that big a deal. But my husband and I live in an apartment adjacent to our grocery store, and this is the very reason we’ve never had a pet or even watched my mother-in-law’s like we’d chosen to do this weekend.
Of course, right when I commanded Tiffany not to bark, right then she did, and I got down and made a grab for her. Then she really thought we were playing and started in with a high-pitched volley that resonated the whole way back to the warehouse where my husband was working.
Clomping up the steps, Randy threw open the door to our apartment and looked to see his wife on all fours, doing circles around a dog.
“Fluff For Brains,” he said, “shut up!” I turned and was relieved to see he was talking to Tiffany.
“I hope you won’t talk to our kids like this,” I said.
Although long weary of my pet/child comparison, Randy just sighed and said, “Don’t worry, honey…I won’t.”
The next day, a Saturday, I decided to take Tiffany along on my errand runs since she did such a good job riding along during date night the evening before. (Yes, I took her along on date night; Randy said that he understood.)
At 2:00 I had an appointment with a couple who'd used the same cabinet maker as my husband and I, and I had given myself plenty of time to get there.
Or, so I thought.
Little did I know that two hours would be needed to make the two mile journey, for the neighboring town had decided to put together a wagon train (Yes! A wagon train!) from their town into ours.
In the beginning, I thought it was kinda cute. I even waved at the little Grapes of Wrath extras who were all wrapped up in blankets to block the frightful wind and cold. But then their escorting police officer stopped me and said, “Ma’am, I’m mighty sorry, ma’am, but we got 45 wagons coming through here today.”
“Here? On this road?” I looked at the strip of blacktop that was barely wide enough for a kid’s Tonka truck.
He nodded gravely, then tipped his hat and drove off with his caution lights flashing.
Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. As the Laura Ingalls gals ambled by on their wooden wagons, I didn’t even nod. I just glowered at their braided pigtails and booted feet and wished I could borrow those boots and kick those wagons and drivers right back into Yoknapatawpha County.
For a while the O Pioneers! kept up their friendly charade, but then they must’ve seen the steam of my wrath rolling out through the window (Tiffany needed to breathe), for they stopped their waving and just faced straight ahead with their hands clasped in their laps.
The guy who came by 15 minutes later mustn’t have seen my steam signal, for he held up his little spotted dog for Tiffany to see, and she went absolutely berserk. Scrambling across the console, she knocked over my last can of Reed’s ginger ale, barked and yipped at the window.
I had had enough!
Popping Tiffany soundly on the butt, I hissed in her ear, “If you don’t stop barking right this minute, I swear I’m gonna turn your hide into pillow stuffing!”
At that moment, the words I’d told Randy echoed in my ears: “I want our home to be a sanctuary of love. A place where no harsh word is ever spoken, and no hand ever raised out of anger.”
Filled with remorse, I grabbed Tiffany and clutched her against my chest. “Oh, I’m so sorry! Mommy’s so sorry, precious! She’d never ever turn you into pillow stuffing!”
Tiffany proceeded to shake all over with sheer happiness, swat her tail against the steering wheel, and bathe my face with her rough pink tongue.
All I can say is, I hope my kids are just as forgiving.