Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maggots And Snails And Puppy-Dog Tails

After three-and-a-half years of viewing our dog as this hairy thing that we walk and sometimes feed, Rollie has decided that suddenly Ollie is his new best friend.

Ollie is our 11-year-old Chow mix (mixed with what we're not sure, but I think it's part grouchy old man and part throw-rug).  I've written about his life before our kids came along and ruined everything, but in a nutshell, here's an illustration for you: Ollie pre-kid = our furry, adorable son. Ollie post-kid = our stinky, inconvenient Swiffer.

Ollie is not a kid-friendly dog. He's not one of those dogs that kids can lie on and tug his ears, one that curls up at the foot of Rollie's bed or patiently allows Elsa to dress him up in bonnets and socks. He doesn't much care for our children, but tolerates them only because they still struggle to get food from their plate to their open little mouths without dropping at least half of it onto the floor. He's gained 5 pounds since our kids entered the scene. And even though he seems quite aware that our children generate an unending supply of vittles, he would just as soon smother them with his bushy tail than lick up their spilled mac&cheese.

Despite this, a few days ago Rollie began following Ollie around and talking to him. I'm not sure where Rollie's new-found attraction to our dog stemmed from, but his one-sided conversations usually go something like this:

Rollie: I love you, Ollie.
Ollie (lying on his side in the middle of the kitchen): .....
Rollie: You're my best friend.
Ollie (sighing through his nose): ....
Rollie: We're gonna grow up together, you know.
Ollie: ....
Rollie: You can come to school with me, and go on the playground and go to Publix.
Ollie: ....
Rollie: Would you like me to pet you?
Ollie (lifting his head and looking at Rollie like, are you serious?): ....
Rollie (edging closer to Ollie): See? Isn't this nice? You like being pet, don't you?
Sound of Ollie's dog tags jingling and his nails on the tile as he gets up and trots to a different part of the house.

Not that I mind seeing this unrequited love unfolding in my kitchen, but in a way it's sort of...unfortunate that Rollie is just now realizing that Ollie is our pet. I mean...Ollie's 11. What is that, like, 98 in dog years? Rollie is waiting until Ollie is essentially on his way to the Great Fire Hydrant In The Sky before he decides to fall in love with the dog. Here I was thinking when the day finally comes when Ollie trots through the Valley of the Shadow of Euthanasia,  Rollie would care less. Now I'm watching Rollie plop down in front of the dog to read him If You Give A Moose A Muffin. And all Ollie wants is for Rollie either feed him some peanut butter or leave him the hell alone.

Yesterday Rollie seemed to accept that he and our dog weren't about to split a Best Friend necklace, and so he tried to substitute another animal in Ollie's stead.

A dead snail.

This snail has been hanging on our back porch for a few days now. I figured he was just extra slow, and didn't think much of him until Rollie came to me while we were in the backyard, holding the snail between his fingers.

Rollie: Look, Momma, a snail.
Me: I see that. Why don't you go put him back where he was?
Rollie: No, Momma, I'm gonna keep him. He's gonna be my pet.
Me: I don't think snails make the best pets, bud.
Rollie: But he's so cute. He wants to stay with me.
Me: Um...not sure if that's such a good idea.
Rollie: What can I put him in?
Me: Why don't you leave him outside and just visit him?
Rollie: Do we have a bowl I can keep him in? I can put him right next to my bed.
Me: ...Yeah, we have a bowl.
Rollie: Little Bill has a hamster, and now I have a snail.
Me (realizing that the show Little Bill must have been the inspiration behind Rollie's latest pet obsession): Ooooh...okay....

And so it came to pass that I pulled out Jeff's favorite cereal bowl, filled it with water and held it out for Rollie to deposit his pet snail.

When Jeff came home later and Rollie proudly showed off his new best friend, Jeff reaction was a little more sane than mine.

Jeff: This snail isn't a water snail, Rol.
Rollie: But he's happy in there.
Jeff: I don't think he is. I think we need to put him out in the flowerbed.
Rollie: No, Dadda. He's mine.
Jeff (studying the bowl):  Are those baby snails in there?
Rollie (seemingly overjoyed that he is the proud papa of a bunch of squirming little baby snails): Where? Where are the baby snails?
Me: There weren't any baby snails there when we put him in the water.
Jeff (scrutinizing the bowl more closely): are maggots.
Me: So that's why that thing smelled so bad.
Rollie: ...Can I keep them, too?

Their early relationship. I'm pretty sure Rollie was finding
some leftovers in his folds for Ollie to snack on.
Jeff took the bowl outside and unceremoniously dumped Rollie's pet snail and pet maggots into the flowerbed. Rollie looked on somberly, then ran back inside to look for Ollie. Who was busily licking up remnants of dinner from the floor.


  1. I bet Jeff doesn't eat from that bowl for a while!

  2. Great Fire Hydrant in the Sky. Poetic language raised to new heights. Loved it.