My daughter was part of the trend of recent grads that moved home when the job market dried up. She brought her Pug, Lola, back with her too.
I was happy in my quiet life. I had a little mixed breed dog, Kate, who kept me company and followed all the rules a good dog should -- no barking, do your business when I take you outside, sit when I say sit, stay when I say stay. Kate was almost haughty in her obedience. "She's such a little lady," people on the street would say as she walked regally by my side.
Lola, on the flip side, was a nightmare -- the devil in a black coat. She didn't do anything on command, barked constantly, refused to go outside in inclement weather, jumped on strangers with her muddy paws and perpetually looked for trouble. She was also relentless in her torment of Kate. It was a constant, ongoing persecution. Kate corrected her regularly with a growl or a nip, but Lola was undeterred. I should also mention that Pugs aren't known for their brainpower and Lola met breed standard for sure. I swear I saw disdain on Kate's face when she watched Lola misbehave.
One year later a blessing occurred. My daughter found a good job and could afford her own apartment. Lola and she moved out, and with that a sense of calm returned to my environment. Ah, peace.
Then a strange thing happened. Kate became clingy, needy and a tad neurotic. She developed separation anxiety -- howled when I left, cried and whined when I returned. When I was at home she wandered listlessly through each room in a constant state of unease, barking at nothing. It was disturbing and I was perplexed. Could it be that she missed her rotten Pug sidekick?
"How's Lola doing without Kate?" I asked casually.
"Great, hasn't skipped a beat," replied my daughter.
I added "heartless" to Lola's character traits.
I had both dogs for a few days when my daughter was away on business. Kate was instantly calm when the naughty Pug was with us. The roles were clearly defined again. Lola misbehaved and Kate did the canine version of, "Oh no she didn't!"
My solution was to ask, OK beg, my daughter to share custody of the dogs. We'd split the week in half, I told her, with the goal being that they would always be together. It was a hard sell since Lola was doing fine and I'd spent the previous year complaining ad nauseam, but she finally agreed. The beast was back in my life ...and I wanted her.
As I write this, it is my time to have the shared dogs. Kate rests serenely in her bed as Lola jumps up and shoves her plush octopus toy at me.
It is wet and so is my pant leg because a few minutes ago she spilled her entire water bowl and then dragged her toy through it. I've said, "No," ten times but whatever Lola wants, Lola gets. I'll give in soon and will end up on the floor playing tug-of-war. I've come to admire her tenacity. On my shared dog days I smile as she bulldozes in. I know the days will be filled with disaster, but the nights when she snuggles up under the covers next to me, I admit, my heart is filled with Pug Love.