Sunday, May 23, 2010
This week, Maggie turns 6 years old. Magdalena Harbin-Simpson, as she is called when she is in trouble, is a Yorkshire terrorist, I mean terrier. She's about 6 inches tall, black and gold and beautiful.
Maggie really belongs to my daughter, Holly.
But Holly married Ben in November, so we share custody of Maggie. Holly wants Maggie to continue to enjoy being with Grandy and Pawpaw and our toy poodles, Silvie and Michelle, Queen of the World.
GIZMO (DECEASED), SILVIE, MAGGIE, AND MICHELLE
I know that almost everyone loves his or her dog. Every dog has its own personality and charm. We love our poodles as much as we love Maggie, but Maggie came to our family at a very hard time and has been a real comfort and source of happiness for her Pawpaw as he suffered through the failure of his businesses and the financial hardship that followed.
Any doggie can lift depression if its owner appreciates it But our Maggie is such a strange little girl and so friendly, loving, and funny that she helped my husband (and the rest of us) get through a "rough patch" as her fellow countrymen would say with typical British understatement.
Because Maggie smiles. And those merry smiles amuse us and distract us from our troubles. They are not just the smiling eyes and lowered ears that most dogs do to express happiness and friendliness. She actually lifts her lips and pulls them back in a real toothy smile. She's not the only dog I know of who smiles. We fostered a lab who smiled in the same way, wrinkling her nose quite delightfully. Several friends have told me that their dogs smile, too. It's a greeting, along with submission. Maggie adds sneezing and snorting to her submissive smiles.
Maggie greets EVERYONE she meets. Everyone. In the neighborhood, on a walk, in the park, any dog, person, or cat gets greeted with sneezes, snorts, smiles and her patented, tummy flaunting rollover. It's obvious when Maggie sees someone to greet. Her perky ears flatten, rise up, and flatten again, as she darts in their direction, smiling, sneezing, and snorting "Are you my friends? Can we be friends? I like you, do you like me? Let's be friends! Look! Here's my tummy! Rub my tummy! Do you love me?!!!"
It can be quite overwhelming. Most people just laugh and pet the little long-haired dust moppet. But sometimes small children and dogs are taken aback and retreat behind someone's legs to peer at this noisy whirlygig. Undeterred, Maggie gets up and approaches more slowly, rear-end first, just in case. A bite on the little hiney is not as painful as a bite on the little nosey, Maggie has learned (from Michelle, Queen of the World).
Of course, nobody can be so good all the time, even Maggie. She has a fear-hate relationship with our cat, Hobbs. Hobbs is a huge tom cat. He routinely stalks and attacks Maggie and Silvie, the smaller poodle. Michelle, Queen of the World, is VERY serious about her dignity and stature and has taught Hobbs to leave her totally alone. But Maggie is ambivalent - sometimes being scared of Hobbs and sometimes stalking him and chasing him through the house. IF he will run from her.
Sometimes Maggie skulks around and suddenly attacks Hobbs -- and he just stands there glaring "I don't THINK so!" Then Maggie veers away and finds a great need to smell the leg of a chair to cover her embarrassment. She hadn't meant to chase the cat, anyway; he was just in her path as she went to smell the compelling odor on the chair.
Maggie has other oddities, too. When she was a little puppy we lived in a two-storey home. The stairs were taller than Maggie. She learned pretty quickly to climb up the stairs, but going back down scared her. At first, she would stand at the top of the steps and cry until someone came to rescue her. Later, she took matters into her own hands - er paws. First she would stand at the top of the stairs growling menacingly to intimidate the staircase. Then Maggie would "sled" down the carpeted stairs on her tummy with her front legs in front of her and her hind legs stuck out behind, growling all the way. Apparently the steps were sufficiently bullied, as Maggie always arrived safely at the bottom.
Another unusual trait of Maggie's: From puppyhood she has naturally sat up on her haunches. We taught our poodles to "beg" in this position, but Maggie routinely pulls herself up in what we call "prairie dog" position, stands all the way up, and lowers herself back to "prairie dog" without ever touching down with her front feet. Maybe Yorkies have exceptional balance or maybe it's just Maggie.
I believe that Maggie sometimes pictures herself as a much bigger dog. When she hears her "sisters" barking outside, she trots officiously through the house on her stubby little legs, with her "nubbie" (her cropped tail) sticking straight up through her back hair, creating a "rooster tail," barking her Rottweiler bark "Roo-quough," giving every indication that she is on the way to take care of whatever needs to be straightened out. Of course, if there is a person or dog out there, she begins her smiley, snorty, sneezey routine and rolls over to display her belly.
Soon Maggie will come to stay with her Pawpaw for a few days and cheer up the whole household with her antics. We are looking forward to seeing her -- and the cat is just ecstatic.