Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I always joke around about our oldest female Australian Shepherd, Zsa Zsa. She comes off as a bit of a diva and she has a reputation for selling out her best friend if it means she’ll get to eat something.
It’s true that Zsa Zsa is, at least around here, The Fun Police. She views herself as the nanny over the other five though, if you didn’t know this, you would swear she was acting up herself.
Here is how is usually goes down, though: One of the other dogs breaks a rule – say, jumping up and barking. Zsa Zsa sees the infraction and, as disciplinarian realizes she must take steps to punish the offender. She does this by jumping up on him and barking. The whole activity looks like chaos when, in fact, it’s just Zsa Zsa being On Duty.
Zsa Zsa is kind of like the Margaret to the rest of the dog’s Dennis the Menace and, if she had baloney curls, I’ll bet she’d spend her day tossing them and “harrumphing.” She is particularly hard on her puppies, Hokie and Abby. Zsa Zsa is determined to turn Abby into a young lady, though the more she corrects her, the ditzier Abby gets.
The reason I bring all this up is that Zsa Zsa has another side that never ceases to amaze me: Zsa Zsa is what my brother calls A Healer.
It goes beyond the obvious, though I still think it’s remarkable that she will come over and lay her head on my lap if she sees me crying. Her normal lap behavior involves a lot of nudging for attention. But when she sees me cry – even during something innocuous like a movie or because I’ve sneezed several times – her attention is very undemanding.
During the course of this year, though, I’ve seen some examples of intuitive behavior that amazes me every time she does it.
I’ve mentioned before that my health has not been real good lately. It’s nothing obvious, but one of the effects of being off meds is the deterioration of my joints. In fact, the reason I was originally tested was because I had broken both my wrists within the space of a month. Because of this, places where I’ve had injuries before are particularly susceptible to acting up when I’ve pushed them too far. My wrists, for instance, will sometimes go black and blue if I’ve knitted too much or my left ankle will swell if I’m on my feet too much. My ankle in particular I don’t really notice until I feel Zsa Zsa licking the exact area that was originally injured. On really bad days, when none of my joints is functioning properly, she drives herself crazy unless I scold her to leave me alone. Even then I’ll notice her trying to lick my elbow or something while I’m on the computer.
But even that is not as amazing as what she did last week.
I have to insert here that Zsa Zsa does not go up on our bed. The other dogs have tried, Topper has actually succeeded because he’s such a mess of neuroses. But Zsa Zsa has just never seemed interested. She keeps watch by my side of the bed, which was just too tall for her to make the leap.
Last week we came home from the lawyer’s office drained and defeated. Stripped of every penny, without any prospect of an income, having had to put a monetary price on things like my diamond-less engagement ring (the stone fell out) and my mother’s charm bracelet, there was nothing left of me to give. I’d gotten sick and I’d cried and now I was too tired to even sleep. All I could manage to do was crawl into bed and turn on something mindless on the television.
All of a sudden, up popped Zsa Zsa. She curled herself up compactly in the center of the bed, laid her head on my stomach, gave a commiserate sigh and watched over me patiently. Dirtman said she didn’t get down until he came to bed and turned out the lights. I do remember that all through that night, whenever my hand ventured over the edge of the bed, she was there under it.
I’m sure a skeptic would have perfectly valid reasons for all this. I am, after all, the one who feeds her. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have been equally willing to view her motives with a jaundiced eye. But I know intuitively that she not here as just a pet.
And I no longer ignore my intuition.