by MD Maurice
an ode to our naughty little dog, his crimes and misdeeds.
|Turk, though he goes by many names, is our miniature Doberman of the red or copper variety. At nearly twenty pounds and almost 18 inches tall, he is a fairly large specimen of his breed. His tail is docked but his ears are natural. They fold over at the tips and are easily the softest part of his rougher, short-haired coat. He has dark, soulful little eyes marred now by a creeping white film, the beginning of cataracts. As he rounds on the age of twelve, Turk is not aging very well. He suffers from some arthritis in his back legs and a very testy gut. He has one inner eyelid that lags a bit giving him the illusion of always winking at me. His recent dental appointment resulted in his losing 17 teeth, including of his two canines and most of the tiny teeth in the front of his mouth.
These ailments coupled with the shadow of grey around his snout, shelter him from a fair amount of our rage and Turk gives us plenty of reasons to rage. We love him but he is evil, even in his frailty. His presence in our lives has provided us with as many memories, not all of them good. Turk has committed a host of crimes for which another dog might easily have been cast out. These crimes are not merely misguided “doggie” things but highly coordinated attacks on our sanity and the sanctity of our home. He has committed crimes against bathroom rugs, space heaters and treasured toys. He has disrespected boundaries and made unforgivable overtures with our food, our garbage can and our cat. He may have even tried to kill me on at least one occasion. The fact that he is still alive and in residence in our home is a miracle in itself.
Turk has always been a swarthy opportunist. He discovered how easily he could invade the garbage, standing on his hind legs to tug wrappers, yogurt containers and dirty diapers, anything he could reach. One day he managed to get a pound of ham out of the garbage and devoured it all of sixty seconds. He swelled up like a fat tick, unable to walk or move. I was convinced his stomach would kill him. Two hours later, I caught him back at the garbage can again, the greedy little animal that he is.
One year my mother in law brought several pounds of baklava with her from overseas. It is heavy, syrup laded pastry made from layers of crushed nuts and crispy fillo dough. It is a special treat that is savored and enjoyed over several nights. Turk navigated his way up onto the dining room table when we were all appropriately distracted. He ate half a dozen pieces before we caught him. The rest had to be tossed out. He sat, smuggling licking his sugared lips for hours after, immune to our glares of open hostility.
After my daughter was born, a whole new world of “grab and dash” opened for Turk. He would follow her around as a toddler, waiting for the inevitable crumbs to fall. Turk would circle her like a shark, waiting for just the right moment to swoop in and snatch the cracker or cookie from her fist. She is six now and he’s still perfecting his craft. The other day he stole half her turkey sandwich right out from under her nose in between bites. He dashed up the stairs when she started to wail and wedged himself just far enough under the furniture so I couldn’t get him. Last week, my daughter came home proudly brandishing the magic pink dough she had made in school. A hour later my rare post-dinner solace was interrupted by aggravated screaming. Turk had gotten a hold of her treasure and he had eaten it all.
If stolen food were Turk’s only offense our frequent threats to disown him would be unjustified. As it turns out though, our Turk has many other malicious talents. For example, he can partially poop outside while retaining just enough inside his bowels to deface our newly washed bathroom rugs the very minute he is allowed back inside. You could leave him outside in the yard for an hour and he can still make this happen. Turk can also pee with remarkable aim. He can pee directly into the face of a space heater so that the accident goes unnoticed, until we turn it on. The smell of burning dog urine is surprising difficult to rid oneself of. We have lost multiple heaters, humidifiers and various other appliances in this way.
The amount of underwear we have all lost to Turk is mind boggling. He has chewed through the crotches of countless intimates, tights and pajama bottoms. In perhaps the biggest insult to injury, after having his fill he has often returned them to the laundry basket to be washed, folded and put away. The discovery of his crimes go undetected until we put them on, dismayed to learn that he had perversely modified them. I have reluctantly owned more crotch less panties than most exotic dancers.
I used to own cats. In fact, Turk’s first fur sibling was a small, sweet gray tabby cat named Remy. Remy adored Turk and Turk adored humping Remy. He was adept at taking advantage of Remy’s affectionate nature. The poor cat would just lie there, softly mewing for help, while Turk used and abused him. Turk had been fixed as soon as he came of age but it never completely eradicated his urges. He loved to take out those urges out on sweet, forgiving Remy and, embarrassingly, on some of the “bigger” girls at the dog park. He had it particularly bad for a big, white greyhound whose owner often complemented me on my dog’s “ambition” as I dragged Turk off her hind leg. Turk’s sexual exploits eventually led to me having to abandon the dog park and re-home Remy.
Turk has been responsible for threats on my personal well-being. One evening when my husband was working the night shift, I took advantage of a quiet house and sleeping child to take a rare, long and extravagant shower. I left my daughter and Turk, soundly sleeping in our big bed. When I was well into my shower and I had managed to dose my head in shampoo, Turk began a rapid, frenzied barking downstairs. This was not the typical “a car went by blaring a radio” or “I heard the dog four houses over” barking. No, this was the “there is a serial killer in the living room”, full-on, aggressive barking that set off every alarm in my body.
I burst from the shower, eyes burning from the soap, struggling to take in the dark landing and navigate the stairs to the lower level. On my frantic dash downstairs the sleeve of my bathrobe hooked on the banister yanking me off my feet and sending me, rump first down the stairs. Frightened and straining to see through the film of shampoo, my ass hit the hardwood just as Turk rounded the corner. He looked at me, tail wagging, and then leaped casually past me and up the stairs. After completing my full and thorough inspection of the house, I returned upstairs. Nursing a much bruised tailbone, I found Turk conspicuously curled on the bed again, comfortably. He looked at me and yawned. I felt the adrenaline leaching from my bloodstream as I stood there, contemplating tossing him downstairs on his ass.
For all his naughty habits, Turk has managed to be ultimately forgivable through one redeeming trait. Turk is a class A cuddle bug. He knows how to crawl into your lap and your heart with those weeping eyes and small, sweet face. He knows how to bury his face in the crook of your neck, or cover your arms with tiny, fleabites of affection. Turk evokes our compassion by having the patience of saint as our daughter drags him around by the leash, dresses him in hats and scarfs or attaches toys to his collar so he can give them “rides”. We are overcome with gratitude to see the way our daughter glows when he plops down beside her, choosing her company over ours. Sunday mornings would not be the same without him creeping up the bed to insert himself into our family snuggle time. No matter how annoyed he can make us, we can't help but welcome him into our laps to stroke his velvety ears. He loves to simply be with us, as close to us as possible. Make no mistake, Turk is an evil genius but he is, wholly and completely, our evil genius and we love him.
Word Count: 1466