Valley Pike: Street angel, house devil
Posted: December 5, 2012
The statement, followed by a question, was pleasantly offhand, conversational yet convivial.
“That’s a great dog you have there,” said the woman behind the counter at Creekside Grooming. “Where did you get her?”
I half-turned as if to say, “What dog? Are you talkin’ to me?”
The query caught me off-guard, and I suspect that, as I turned back around, I looked at the genial groomer as if she had antlers. I quickly decided to ignore the statement and answer the question.
Meanwhile, our “great” dog, 50 pounds of normally fractious puppy, was working her “street angel/house devil” con, contentedly strolling outside with another groomer as I paid the bill.
Of course, upon our arrival home, it didn’t take long for her demeanor to change. She quickly went into Standard Default Mode, a cross between Rocket Girl and Doctor Demento.
And so the Bailey Project continues. Not much has changed in the four months since I last entertained you (hopefully) with her rambunctious doings. She’s still every inch the Diva Princess, as her mom says, exuding robust self-esteem. Or at least a facade thereof.
No matter how much she gets in trouble — and, right now, she’s in a peck of it, after knocking down my mother-in-law the day before Thanksgiving — Bailey assumes this “Me? Bad?” attitude. This dog absolutely believes she can skate by on her cuteness, and that she is the quintessence of cool. That’s the “house devil” part.
“Street angel”? Well, she actually managed to earn both an Obedience School certificate at PetSmart — doing just enough to get by — and plaudits from the trainer, Miss Patty, who called her a “smart” dog. Her mother, the social studies teacher, knew better, accurately labeling her reception of a diploma a “social promotion.”
Bailey, you see, is all attitude (and bark) and no bite — unless, of course, she’s taking a nip out of me or Toni. She cowers at the kennel — Just Like Home in Strasburg — whereas her late sister, Heidi, used to walk the runs at Charlie Reading’s as if she were a queen.
Our increasingly huge split personality, now a few days shy of seven months old, has also given ground to her wary, weary, worldly wise older brother, Paperboy the Cat. For months she had “Papes” buffaloed, to the point he wouldn’t come in the house. But with the coming of cold weather came a shift in the balance of pet power.
Paperboy’s take on the matter: “Enough is enough. This is myhouse. Plus, I’m cold.” So, a week ago Sunday, he just waltzed in and reclaimed his turf, particularly the old green couch in the family room and his favorite hard-backed chair in the kitchen.
Have there been confrontations? Sure, but Papes now has Bailey’s number. Retreats to his outdoor sanctuary are no longer ignominious flights, but strategic fighting withdrawals complete with bared teeth and exposed claws.
Though a new equilibrium exists along Valley Pike, the jury, as I (facetiously) keep telling Toni, is still out on our bumptious Yellow Lab mix. I guess we’ll keep her — that is, if she (and the household) survive Christmas.
She’s already demonstrated a predilection for the pine cones on our outdoor decorations, but her true test may come with the live Christmas tree, which we put up a week or so before the Big Day.
Our standard Frazier fir usually sits, floor to ceiling, in front of a bank of windows in our sun room. This year, though, we may opt for a five- or six-footer, to be placed atop a conveniently sized round table in the corner, so much the better to keep prying paws and teeth away from delicate ornaments.
Even so, I’m still wondering if further Bailey Preventative Measures might be in order. Perhaps a semicircular moat around the table and tree, filled with baby gators. Or maybe just Paperboy, standing perpetual guard . . .