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The Importance of Being Ansley, Part 1: The Bagel Back Story

REMINDERS: I am in Florida and Alabama now. If these are your stomping grounds, check the tour schedule and come see me. We will have fun. Pinky Swear. We are getting SO CLOSE to Virtual book Signing at Alabama Booksmith, so if you want a signed first edition/ personalized book stating you have the best dog or whatever other fun thingy you can think of to make me say like a puppet-mouth/ to support my work and an AN AWESOME and hugely valuable Independent bookstore go HERE to order, and ps you look FANTASTIC in those pants.

This is a faux Bagel. A Stunt Bagel. Bagel's body double, as I am on the laptop with no pics of him

Here are the three qualities I like best in my own personal dogs: Bigness. Dumbness. Maleness.

I don’t know why I like my dogs to be boys. I just do. I used to feel a sort of vague sister-betraying-oh-crap-I-ruined-solidarity guilt over it. Then I realized I my friend Sara has a strong and equally nonsensical preference for girl dogs, and 1) she rescues SO MANY DERN GIRL DOGS that a couple of folks need to prefer the fellas to balance the rescued dog universe and 2) I never once thought her liking girl dogs means she is secretly a man hater, so why should cottoning to boy dogs indicate a vicious anti-woman streak?

The size thing is easy to explain. I like to have a big floppy MASS of dog, satisfyingly large, so I can get a good thumpy hollow drum bang sound out of them when I pat pat pat them on their barrel sides. That’s just LOGIC.

Also, I like a dog who, when you turn the volume knob on the side of his head, all you hear is a peaceful hum of white noise and static, because so often, in dogs, missing brain cells seem to be replaced by GOODNESS cells. My dog, Bagel, is especially stupid, and he is so GOOD he practically glows with it. It is like a palpable virtue-miasma that swirls around him in a fog.

Mr. Husband is the final word in dogs. He is a dog whisperer. No, really. He can spot a good dog FROM SPACE.

I did not know this about him for years and years and years. I always though tof him as not really an ANIMAL person. I am a fanatical animal person. For me, a pet-free house, empty of little animal heartbeats, is the fast track to clinical depression.

For Scott, silly.

In an ideal world I would have dogs, yes, but also some backyard goats and a piglet and a hedgehog and a couple-three cats and another dog or two and a snake so small he didn’t want to eat adorable mice, only bugs, and pet mice, and a lizard named Gustav Klimpt, and a big bay gelding named Galileo. But I think that might irk the neighbors. OH! Also I want chickens. And budgies. And those teeny teeny underwater froglings that come with a snail.

So throughout the first years of our marriage, I kept little hamsters and suchlike in an aquarium and agitated for more cats near-constantly, because I thought cats were the least trouble of all the larger mammal-style pets. Sometimes, I would borrow Lydia’s dog Hobbes – a most EXCELLENT beast—for sleepovers. And I would cruise the Dog dating Websites for potential dogs near constantly.

This is how we got Bagel. I went specifically to an adoption day to meet a dog I saw on the interwebs. I liked him. He was large, and male, and SO dumb he was practically a lump of suet. He liked me back, but ALAS, he had zero interest in the children.

While I was trying to get him to acknowledge that they existed, Scott disappeared. We found him by the cage of Bagel. (At that point, Bagel was named Brad Pitt. Yes. Really.)

Scott said, “This is a good dog.”

Now understand, I can’t pass an adoption day without relentless dog cruising, I HAUNT the stray cat cages at PETSMART, and even driving along the road, I am ALWAYS on the look out for the next abandoned animal who needs to live with me. Scott, through all of this pet-hunting stands slightly aloof, off to the side, looking pained but resigned. When I simply MUST have an animal, he accepts it, and is nice to it and all, but he isn’t, like, enraptured.

So this thing where he was kneeling down and examining a dog named Brad Pitt all unprovoked and SAYING A NICE THING ABOUT IT was…unprecedented.

Reader, I adopted Brad Pitt. Immediately.

And I learned something new and utterly shocking about my husband: He was secretly a dog person. He had been the WHOLE time. It isn’t that he doesn’t like ANIMALS, it is just he is a specific animal type. He is not much of a CAT guy, and he isn’t that wild about goats, mice, snakes, pigs, or hedgehogs. But he adores dogs. He just didn’t know it, and neither did I.

I watched him actively relishing the company of kid-rechristened Bagel, and in my mathematically borked mind, where the proper number of pets is X + 1 where X is “the number of pets we have currently,” I began building a dog empire…

To be con’t

16 comments to The Importance of Being Ansley, Part 1: The Bagel Back Story

  • I am an animal person, for sure. I prefer cats to dogs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like dogs because I do. I went through a period in college when I had two cats, 7 snakes (four ball pythons, an albino burmese python, a half-albino burmese python and a red-tail boa), an iguana, and a golden tegu. All but two of those were rescued animals (a ball python and the boa). It was a lot of animals and I was a broke college student whose heart was bigger than her wallet. I ended up finding homes for most of the animals with the exception of the cats.

    Then I had kids. My oldest kid can be as difficult as herding cats or trying to house train five giant puppies. He’s high-maintenance, is what I mean, and now one of those afore mentioned kitties is twenty and needs constant care. I just don’t have the energy anymore for a house full of animals when two of my existing little heartbeats are so needing me every second of every day. Some day we’ll get another dog. I’d like a rabbit or a guinea pig some day. I’d like to have chickens and a goat, too. I wouldn’t mind another iguana or maybe a water dragon. But for now, I’ll make due with my geriatric cats and my cuddly kids. 🙂

  • Jill W.

    We are dog people at our house, too. Our beloved Bandit, a big mutt who we had for 10 years died in September. I miss him terribly, but I am ready to get another dog. My husband is not quite there yet. I don’t like having no dog in the house. It just doesn’t feel right.

  • I am a dog person. It’s not that I don’t like cats, I do – my favorite breed is other-people’s-cats. But in MY house I want dogs.

    My son (the middle one) wanted a cat for a very long time. I was able to hold him off for a while by telling him that his daddy is very allergic to cats, therefore we couldn’t have one.

    One day when he was about four, and his Daddy was about to be shipped to Overthereistan for 12 months, my little guy said to me, “Mommy, if Daddy dies…” (and I thought, ‘oh dear, he’s really worried about his dad and this deployment’) “…if Daddy dies…can we get a cat?”

    And I laughed so hard I passed out and the dogs had to lick my face until I came to. <<—- only slight exaggeration

  • I have determined that I am a girl dog lover. . .and despite YEARS of fearing them, I have also found that should I ever adopt a girl dog, it will be a German Shepherd. The end. I LOVE that Pez picture–my Daddy has bird dogs, and they, in turn, had LITTERS of puppies with soft, curling, pink tongues that whispered puppy breath all over my face.

  • Linda J

    I am such a dog person. Boys, girls, no matter, although at the moment we have 2 boys. I have a cat liking body except I am slightly allergic. That means cats like to lay on top of me while I am sleeping and I have a constantly runny nose from them…Thanks.

    This post makes me wonder if you got another dog. Oh you so need pics of pets kept in your laptop.

  • Big brown boy dog person right here. But I kind of like them smart. We have struck the jackpot with our latest — smart AND mostly biddable. It is a new experience to have a dog who will actually kind of consider doing what we want him to. We are considering teaching him to fetch a beverage from the fridge as a father’s day surprise.

    How large is the bagel?

  • I haz chickens! I love my backyard chickens! They’ve just come back into laying from the “winter” and very few things make me quite as happy as opening the nest box and collecting their eggs. It’s sad to take such pleasure in others’ accomplishments. Yet I do. And I fancy I can tell which hen laid which egg. My hubs built them a portable coop (chicken tractor) that we park around the yard. It’s gorgeous – looks like the chicken coop that Frank Llyod Wright would have built, so we named it “Falling Eggs”. Our ladies are: Sloopdyboop Wendyback, Garbo, and Red-White (my child named Red-White. Guess what colors she is?) Other pet-heartbeats in the household are two birds and one dog. I like a medium-sized dog with ruff/fluff. I have ended up with a tunneling dachsund. Schnitzel is a sweet girl. We kept her when she found her way to us and my good dog Highway gave us the soulful “can we keep her?” eyes. So really she was Highway’s dog. Found that good boy on I-10 in Lousianna in a sorry state. Best dog ever.

  • Linda J

    OMG On audible.com AGUKOP is on the best seller list for the last 7 days!!! Just had to share.

  • Jo

    I have always been a boy dog person. In my world, cats are girls and dogs are boys. That is just the way it is. When we got our last dog, he picked me. I was picking him up and knew there were two to choose from. I walked in the door and he popped up in the box and gave a little bark. It was as if he was saying, “I’m ready to go home!”

  • When we were going through the one billion doctor visits that precede Tourette’s diagnosing, I would take Haydn to PetSmart after our appointments (PetSmart is next door to our doctor’s office). We fell head over heels for Hocus and Pocus and brought them home. I have to avoid the place like the plague now, or I’ll be the crazy cat lady long before my time.

    My friend Stephanie will be going to see you in Alabama.

  • I am totally getting chickens at the new house. And maybe? A goat. And sometimes deer wander through the yard, nibble our trees, and gaze at us with giant liquid eyes.
    You should probably come hang out.

  • I am more of a cat person than a dog person – I love visiting other people’s dogs, but at home I want cats. But other than that, I am way aligned with your way of thinking. I always sort of assumed I liked girl cats best, because that’s what I had as a kid, and my first (adulthood) cat was a girl. But then we accidentally ended up with another cat – a boy this time – and he has totally converted me.

    I can also attest to a direct correlation between dumbness and goodness in pets. Jasper is dumb as a brick, but he is the most loving and pure-hearted animal I have ever met. He LIVES for love and affection, and gazes adoringly into my eyes for minutes at a time. He begs at the table, but never for food – only for attention. But all those brain cells are filled with loving, not with thinking. He routinely forgets how to get upstairs to our loft; he’ll yowl up at us from the living room below, and only when we walk over to the top of the stairs so he can hear our voices from down the hallway does he remember that – oh yes – the stairs are the way to get up to us. We have lived in this apartment for three years. No, not smart. But oh, is he GOOD. We have never had any trouble at all with that one.

    I’m pretty sure, on the other hand, that Cleo is smarter than I am. And she is imperious and mean and while not really quite evil, she is not by any means good. You can just SEE the plotting going on behind those eyes. I remain relieved that she deigns to offer me some modicum of affection, most of the time, because she is fully capable of vindictive mischief when provoked. Smart, but definitely the bad apple of the house.

  • Beagles are just a gateway dog to Basset Hounds.

  • Bagel is 65 pounds … he is half beagle, half bassett. A bagel. See?

  • @Jo – me too! (cats are girls/dogs are boys) I thought I was the only one with that crazy train of thought.
    We adopted a hard-headed goofball Boxer puppy in November after manymanymany years of a no-dog household. Oh, and surprise! 7 yo boys do not like to walk dogs at night/morning/daytime/evening or on days that end in ‘-day’. NOR do they like to feed/water/bathe/clean up after the puppy they begged and pleaded for for months and promised (!) that they’d take care of.
    I, too, have quickly fallen in love with the size of this goofy monster. He’s just so sturdy! Even if he’s a bonehead.
    Now, if only he had two brain cells to rub together…..

  • Lora in Florida

    We had a beagle/keyshond mix growing up. BEST. DOG. EVER. His name was Honky because well, the dog was not politically correct. He had issues in that way. But despite his prejudices, he was, like you said, a little dumb, incredibly loyal, and would defend us to the death. Nobody messed with his people. He also LOOOVED spaghetti. Shades of Lady and the Tramp. I love animals!