I’ve begun a new tradition this summer. Every Wednesday is date day.
After we drop Elle off at daycare, we ride the gondola into town. We might stroll to the Coffee Cowboy, investigating lampposts along the way. Then we head to the dog wash, Whiskers and Tails, where I spend the next six hours selling pet food and washing dogs while Eddy naps and eats cookies.
It’s my new summer job, which doubles as my weekly doggie date day with my nearly 10-year-old mutt, Eddy. Big, lazy, black-and-white Eddy, who spends much of our time together at the dog wash snoozing in the corner, lumbering up occasionally to beg a customer for one of those delicious chicken cookies – yes, those ones right there, watch! I’ll even sit if you give me one! To any other Telluride dog, hanging at the dog wash may seem like a lackluster highlight of the week, what with Jud Wiebes to run, chipmunks to chase and rivers to swim. But for Eddy, the 10-year-old dog in a family with a 1-1/2 year- old daughter, those afternoons are precious.
Eddy is a dog of mixed variety including but not limited to labrador and Valley Cow (OK, we just had to think of something more remarkable to say than “mutt” when people asked what breed he is, and he does have similar markings to the erstwhile Valley Floor dwellers, and he can be just as stationary). His is the classic rags-to-riches story, the doggie Cinderella: From eating out of dumpsters in Colorado Springs alleys to a stint in juvie (really the Animal Shelter, but again, we embellish…) to, finally, a cushy bed in a warm house with plenty of Flint River Ranch double-baked gourmet dog food to eat in a town where everyone on the sidewalk is good for a pat on the head and even the ladies at the bank dole out dog cookies.
Life was good. Eddy spent the summers hiking with his doggie friends, the winters curled up by the fire, all the while being the sole beneficiary of all the attention his two human caretakers could dispense.
Then along came a strange-smelling, wriggly little bundle. And everything in Eddy’s world flipped upside down, because no longer was Eddy the axis of attention at Chez Prohaska.
His wiggly-butt greetings at the front door were once met with hearty scratches behind the ears, followed in short order by a leisurely walk down the trail with promises of dinner and more ear scratching upon return. Rarely a day passed when he wasn’t ushered into the car (backseat of course, never the dreaded way back!) or onto the gondola for some exciting outdoor adventure. His bed was his own, his food dish was his own and he shared his dog toys with no one.
The Eddy of today is but a stooped shadow of his former self.
Now, his wiggly-butt greetings at the front door are met with an exasperated “Eddy, out of the way,” and the only thing that might come close to an ear-scratch is an accidental thump on the head by a wayward diaper bag. “Go outside and go potty” is as close to a pre-dinner walk as he usually gets. Dinner, which used to happen at 5:30 p.m. on the dot, can now be delayed for many angst-ridden hours. Whereas someone used to notice a large black-and-white dog waiting patiently in front of his dog bowl (which never, by the way, contained mysterious inedible items like baby spoons, Tupperware lids, or wooden blocks), today no-one pays any heed. And the one place he isn’t shoed out of or away from – his bed, tucked into a corner near the fireplace – has nowadays become the favorite clubhouse of one loud and ever-busy Baby Elle.
The only advantage of this new living situation is the opportunity to lick the floor under the highchair after she eats cottage cheese.
So spending six hours without a small child yanking your tail, rousting you out of your bed or throwing a baby doll into your water dish is, in fact, pure bliss for an often-overlooked but nevertheless dutiful and still well-loved pet of a family with a new human member.
Indeed, an afternoon spent riding gondolas, sniffing lampposts, napping uninterrupted, eating cookies, and yes, even getting a bath or two, is a welcome respite from the hard-knocks life of a dog with a new baby in the family.