I got the dog. Or, I should say, we got the dog since this is a joint venture into insanity that includes Cowboy. We’ve had him for one week and I already need a vacation. Getting Hopper — we named him for the painter Edward Hopper whose birthday was two days after we got him — seemed like a great idea from a distance. But now, faced with a slobbering, peanut-butter-and-cream-cheese Kong-snorting squeaky-toy-obsessed creature, I’m ready to go back to feeling unsafe in my neighborhood and just having a cat.
At least I thought I was until yesterday, when I looked up from the bags I was grabbing out of the backseat of the car to see six cop cars and 12 officers in my driveway all pointing their guns at a 20-year-old kid with enormous jeans down around his butt, a wife beater, and a huge short-sleeve collared shirt over that. I froze.
“Drop your weapons,” they barked and suddenly out of his huge shirt came a semi-automatic rifle the size of Hopper. Then they pulled a baseball bat from his pants. “What are the chances?” I’m thinking. And anyway Hopper was upstairs in his crate learning to separate in a healthy manner while sucking on a cream cheese-filled Kong.
On the surface, Hopper is the vicious, loyal guard dog who is supposed to protect me from all men holding their penises or any other kind of weapon in my front yard. He’s a big and strong, black and tan puppy in every sense of the word. We got him at the pound, so we took a leap of faith more than anything else and chose him based on his sweet smile and short, slick hair. When we inquired about his distinctive markings, they told us, “Oh, he’s a lab-shepherd mix — maybe a little hound.” We accepted it because we wanted a dog. Cowboy didn’t want to carry his Louisville Slugger around anymore. I was tired of having my boyfriend chaperone me to my front door.
But bringing home a dog you hope to groom to protect you has its drawbacks. The first night we got him he barked at my cat, Ellison. Then Cowboy told me that he thought the pound had lied to us — that this dog really was part Rotty. We spent the next hour looking at Rottweilers on the Internet and identified our dog as one German Shepherd hair shy of purebred (which, by the way, the vet seconded when we brought him for his checkup). That night Cowboy slept in the living room with the stranger and I locked myself and Ellison in the bedroom. While Ellison and I slept, Cowboy had to give Hopper the Heimlich maneuver and then stick his hands down his gullet to retrieve a piece of chewy he’d breathed into his endless toothy snout.
Since our first night Cowboy has been sleeping on the couch with Hopper. Hence, the only sexy thing happening in this house is when Hopper decides it’s appropriate to try to chew my bra strap, or stick his nose up my skirt, nightgown, towel, whatever. Cowboy says, “The only one getting a piece of my girlfriend’s coochie is the dog.” And then he gets sullen until he falls asleep on the couch, Hopper smothering him with wet, hungry kisses.