If you are a constant reader of headstuffing, you will know Suzy as my faithful black lab who is with me almost every time I write.
Right now is no different. Suzie is curled up on an old ottoman, by my side again, with no idea that I am writing about her today.
She really isn't all that smart.
She can't read. At least not the big words.
And she really messed up my 2009 tax return. She missed a big deduction for a home improvement credit we got for some minor bathroom renovations we made in the family room.
If you have ever seen my downstairs bathroom, you would agree that the renovations are very minor. It's a very minor bathroom. Cement floor, a beautiful pedestal sink, a brand new toilet, and a curtain rod with a shower curtain on it where the shower will someday be, but where the kitty's litter box is hidden away. The walls are not even painted. Primed, but not painted. It's the guest bedrooms bathroom. It's also the bathroom we use when we are downstairs playing pool or darts.
Suzy loves that bathroom – and she loves to play in the kitty's litterbox.
She really isn't that smart.
My lovely wife Darlene is taking some offense right now, as she is convinced that Suzy is her dog, and that Suzy is more devoted to her than to me.
"Suzy me follows me around the house all day while you are work", she protests. "She is always under foot!"
"Yes, while I am at work", I reply.
"At night, when I go to bed and you stay up, Suzy comes in and sleeps with me", she counters.
Truth be told, Suzy goes to bed with my lovely wife because Darlene always gives her a treat as she climbs into bed. She keeps them in the nightstand. But as soon as Suzy hears the first snore from my lovely wife as she drifts off with her raunchy romance novel still clasped in her fingers, lights still shining brightly in the bedroom … Suzy comes back out into whatever part of the house I am in, flops down on the floor beside me a groans a "rouaughf" sound – hitting several octaves like a syrupy southern drawl - meaning I believe - in dog speak - to say "I'm bored".
Then Suzy will get up, put her head on my thigh (if I am sitting in the living room) and look at me with those great big marble black eyes – leaving me little option but to pet that sad looking face reassuring her that I love her with every fiber of my being – rubbing behind her ears and lowering my face down so she can give me a lick on the cheek.
When I come home from work at night – when the sun has gone down – I find the kids sprawled out on the couch and loveseat – watching Disney's Family Channel lineup of recycled kid shows about pre-teens who are dating and texting each other and in some cases flying around the world to be pop stars – or witches and wizards who with a flick of their eyes or wands can have anything they want – enthralling my eight and seven year old to the point of no distraction.
There is no running down the stairs to greet me and hug me and to tell me how much they miss me – instead they ask me to keep the noise down and inform me that there is no way I am changing the channel to watch important stuff like Sports Center.
My lovely wife Darlene will recognize my arrival – usually to inform the two vegetables flopped out in the living room that now their father is home and boy are they gonna get it now!
But Suzy, Suzy comes charging down those stairs to meet me at the foyer with such fever that I feel the need to help her stop before she flies through the window by the front door. She is jumping up and down and the back tail is wagging so hard that you would think I just returned from a two year stint in the armed forces and returned for a single nights leave before heading back out for my next tour of duty.
Suzy misses me when I am gone. And her first action after I acknowledge her with a hug is to find the nearest chew toy to bring to me to show how much progress she made while I was gone, and maybe I might grab it and play tug-a-war with her.
But I often don't.
I usually have to respond to my wife's request to take those little-living-room-squatting-vegetable-like daughters of mine into a room and spank some respect into them.
Well, that's the nightly request – but my action is more of a long conversation with each to find out why there mother is leaning towards murdering them.
And Suzy waits for me in the hall.
The kitties don't come rushing me. They simply remain on the windowsill or the perched on the back of a well positioned sofa watching my arrival – yawning – and looking at me as if to sarcastically say "hey – great – the fat guys home again!" - perhaps maybe because they have heard my lovely wife and daughters say it so frequently.
Suzy really makes me feel loved.
"Here he comes! – here he comes! – everybody! – here he comes! – He's Here!! - Hi! – Hi! – I'm down here!! – Look at me!!! – Yeah – here I am!! Down Here! – Oh I missed you so much!! Hi-!! I'm so glad you are here!"
Now to be fair, my lovely wife wanted a dog (as did I) and she hunted the papers for a good two months looking for just the right chocolate lab. Then one day – she found this one ad – a farmer – in the farthest point south of the province – who's hunting lab had pups.
Suzy was the runt. She stands only two-thirds the height of a standard black lab. Maybe that's why she is so loving.
When Suzy first met Darlene that fateful day when Darlene picked her out of a litter of four – Suzy brought Darlene a dead bird she found on her way from the barn to the back yard where Darlene was waiting - and was presented with the foul carcass as her introductory gift.
You should always bring your new mommy a gift. If you can't find flowers – a dead bird will do.
She really is pretty smart.
But when I first met Suzy, she cowered when I went to pet her.
She thought I was going to hit her?
My heart sank.
"She must have been beaten", I thought. I was ready to go over to that farm days later and give that farmer a piece of my mind. But then a family friend who really knows dogs explained to me that since Suzy was the only female in a barn full of male pups – and the runt to boot, that Suzy would be extremely submissive.
She ain't submissive anymore!
It's hard to believe that it was only two years ago.
And it's hard to believe that It has been a whole two years gone by.
We couldn't imagine a life without Suzy in our house.
A house without dog hair constantly clogging the vacuum cleaner. A back yard where one can walk bear foot without examining each step ahead for fear of finding puppy-mines hidden in the grass. A house where you're not constantly tripping on chewy toys or barking at the barker to stop chasing the kitties.
She really is a pain in the butt.
But it wouldn't be the same without Suzy.
It would be really lonely.
And the level of love in the house would be noticeably lower.
Regardless of who's dog Suzy is, Suzy really is a great dog.