It seems like we have had pets in the house forever. When I was young we found out that my younger brother had some severe allergies and so we never had any pets, I guess to compensate for that time once I had my own place we ended up with a never ending stream of animals. When we first moved down to San Diego we had one dog and five cats, which I think was our high point. No, we didn’t pick them all out, my wife was visiting a friend when she was offered the dog (our vicious Rose) and two of the cats came from kids that dumped them on us when traveling. The other cats came from friends that also moved and said ‘we can’t take the cat with us’, thus soft hearted Joe took them in. Most of the cats stayed outside with only one being an ‘inside’ cat. We had flipper doors for the dog to come and go which also worked for the cats, and with the San Diego weather they preferred being outside.
Right now we only have Buster staying with us. After Rose left at age 15 we waited a year, then I started visiting the local animal shelter looking for small dogs. Rose introduced us to the idea that a four pound dog was a lot easier to handle than an eighty pound dog, and I wanted to continue with that tradition. Rose was a long haired Chihuahua, with soft grey hair that stuck up in all directions.
It was very evident from visiting the animal shelter that large dogs were more common than small ones. When small dogs showed up people got on a waiting list to take them, while large dogs might sit in those cages for quite a while with no interest, so I guess other people wanted them too. Now I understand that California animal shelters are overrun with Chihuahuas and can’t get rid of them, perhaps Paris Hilton just dumped hers and they went out of style suddenly. It took me almost a year of shelter visits before some small dogs showed up. I came upon Max in a cage one day and went in to the office to see if I could have him, he had been there only one day and already 15 people had signed up for adoption. Back then dogs that were dropped off were kept for a while in case the owners realized they missed them and came back for them. The smaller the dog the longer they were kept, with dogs under ten pounds being kept for two weeks, with extra days thrown in if they were neutered, chipped, or had other personal touches. Buster came in at the same time and shared a cage with Max and a full breed Chihuahua. I got on the list for the other two as well, hoping that one of them would be available. Three weeks later I got a call that I could come and get Max, and the other two were mine if I wanted as well. Due to the hold system I couldn’t bring Buster home until a day after Max, and B said two were enough, let someone else have the little dog.
So Max came home with us and took over the house. He was estimated to be about eight months old and given up by a college student, who tracked us down and called periodically to make sure he was OK. We picked up Buster the next day, and when we walked in the door Max was a little disturbed. I guess he had enough of Buster being stuck in the same little cage with him for three weeks, and figured he now had our whole house to himself. He bit Buster, and informed him that Max was king of the house, and he remained so for fifteen years. Whenever he got excited or mad he would bite Buster on the butt, and poor Buster just took it. The vet estimated that Buster was about four years old, and must have lived with an older woman for as soon as we let him loose he jumped up into my mother’s lap (she was living with us), which annoyed her but Buster kept doing that for years and eventually she accepted him.
Besides being easier to handle one of the fun things about little dogs was that they were easy to dress them up for holidays. Here is Max on Christmas of ’98. He really looks thrilled to have on a Santa hat.
Since Max was the boss he of course got the Santa hat while Buster got to be one of the reindeer. He too seemed really thrilled with his antlers.
Yes, both being held because as soon as they were put down the hats somehow came off. Come on, they enjoyed the attention, and we didn’t make them put on little suits or other outfits, though there may have been a Halloween or two when they got costumes.
Both guys were beggars; we always left down a container of dried food, but they for some reason kept asking for treats. We don’t feed them table scraps or people food, but do keep on hand bags of Snausages and Beggin Strips and other doggie delights, which were given out periodically. Whenever we opened the cabinet where the treats were kept the guys showed up, hoping to talk us into giving them something. Max would just stand and whine and jump around, but Buster had been taught to sit up (before he came to us, we never taught the guys anything) and he would quietly just sit there waiting for something letting Max be the obnoxious one.
With his declining eyesight, and Max not being around to compete with, Buster no longer sits up to beg. He just wanders around until he finds you, then stands there periodically poking you with his nose until he gets something. He rarely makes any noise, only barking when he is really mad about something. He and Max used to run up and down the driveway barking together at visitors and anyone who dared walk on the sidewalk in front of their house, but by himself he just doesn’t do that. Max used to go bonkers when the doorbell was rung, running back and forth barking; the poor guy couldn’t distinguish between our doorbell and ones on TV, and would get up off the couch and go running around when someone on television rang a bell. Buster joined in but stood back, as when Max got excited he would run up behind Buster and bite him in the butt, so Buster learned to stand with his back to the wall far away and just join in the barking and not the running. With his deteriorating hearing I don’t think Buster can hear the doorbell any more, he doesn’t even look up when it rings. Guess when I’m that old I’ll just lay around sleeping all the time too (he’s around 20, which is what, 140 in people years?)