I was in the living room watching another discouraging update on COVID-19 when I heard my wife shout from the fireplace room.
Oh, no. I knew what that meant, and in a flash, I was off my butt and on the floor in a catcher’s crouch. The crash of our expandable wooden kitchen gate heralded the imminent arrival of a fuzzy, floppy-eared fastball on four Tinker Toy-like legs.
“Bryan, get Teddy!” Deb yelled. Her voice was as shrill and jarring as a school fire alarm, and it also signaled her imminent arrival. “She’s sniffing, and you know what that means.”
I did. Poop alert. The chase was on!
I summoned my 25-year-old daughter Brooke from her second-floor bedroom. Preventing an excitable 3-month-old puppy from doing her ‘business’ on the living room floor is a three-person business.
“Brooke, GET THE PAPER TOWELS!” I cried, my excited voice ringing through my ears and injecting a shot of adrenalin through my veins. A beat later, I heard the sound of her footsteps as she raced down the stairs. Brooke knew from experience that the odor of a puppy’s poop is toxic, capable of peeling wallpaper off the wall and forcing new parents to flee from their domicile. Doubtless, she wanted to redirect the desperate puppy poopster outside, where BMs are encouraged.
Before Brooke could join the posse, however, Teddy was flying over the living room threshold and heading straight for me! I lowered my hands, palms outward, like a catcher about to field a pitch in the dirt. Too late! Somehow, Teddy had squirreled her way between my legs and —
The first deposit of poop, the size of a green bean, appeared on the floor, next to the couch.
“Brooke, paper towels needed at six o’clock!!!! Bring disinfectant.”
Brooke, breathless but now prepared to participate in the puppy bounty hunt, leaped into action, scooped up the tiny sample in a paper towel before the business had a chance to release its toxic fumes.
I leaped out of my crouch, turned on my heels, ready to resume the chase after the Pied Pooper of Pooperville.
“Where is she?” I shouted. Silence. Not good.
My prescient nostrils trumpeted what I most feared. Brown green bean number two on the floor, before the TV stand. I looked left, then right, before finding the culprit across the room, coolie doing the wamma wamma wiggle as she walked.
“Brooke, more paper towels. Hurry!”
Meanwhile, Deb, who had tripped over the nearby settee, had righted her proverbial ship and now joined us in the poopie puppy hunt. “Teddyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” she called. She punched the air with a flourish as if to threaten Teddy; but this dog would not be threatened. Deb spotted Teddy heading toward the recliner. She took a giant step forward and did a flying belly flop onto the hardwood floor.
Deb came up empty handed. Oh, she did come eye to eye with poop deposit four.
“Brooke, more paper towels and spray. But look out; your mother is out of the race and supine behind the recliner on turn three!”
Brooke, however, had her hands full with a large pile of noxious, soiled paper towels and was in no position to assist. I was exhausted and fell to the floor like a rag doll. While prone, I watched in amused dismay as our 12-week-old, 1-foot-2-inch, 10.2-pound Cavalier King Charles Spaniel calmly trotted over to me. I looked into her dark chocolate eyes, past her black jujube nose and crinkled snout. “Teddy, you’re lucky you’re cute.”
Teddy responded with a head butt and a nip of my nose.
“And you are lucky you are special.”
Saviors come in all sizes and packages. Some heal, render the despondent. Others create peace by BEING peace. Others such as Jonathan Livingston Seagull inspire us to live limitless lives by flying higher than an astronaut in a rocket.
Deb’s savior is master of the “walking poop.”
Don’t laugh. Teddy also is Deb’s COVID Child, a symbol of hope and light that helps her and the rest of our family find our way amidst darkness of historic magnitude.
Born on July 3, Theodora Covidicus ‘Teddy’ Ethier ½ came to us at the height of the virus and the nadir of our family’s emotional equanimity.
News of our adoption raced through our network of friends and family. Responses were mixed. Dissenters argued that we already had two dogs — Abby, an anxious Golden retriever and Alpha dog, and a Jack, a sweet yet skittish Jack Russell/Corgi mix rescue. With Teddy aboard, would we neglect our canine incumbents? Then there were the three cats… More beings to clutter the rooms, more energy with which to contend, more responsibilities, more stress…. Add humans to the mix… Oy.
“Psshhaaw,” Deb rebuked the naysayers. I wanted a Cavalier.”
She had good reason. Our daughter Jordan had a Cavalier spaniel that made our hearts go pitter patter. Charlie bore the impossibly cute looks typical of her breed: brown coat with what looks like a toupee on her pate; crinkled snout, with black button nose, wide brown eyes so dark they look black, and the unmistakable poker face that makes her look like a Gremlin of movie fame. Charlie is playful and affectionate and brings joy to whomever she encounters.
And did Deb need a dose of joy. We all did.
My wife is the director of nursing for a large health care facility. Working while under the pall cast by the virus has been a challenge for staff and her. Days can feel interminable.
This animated miniature teddy bear has been just what the, er, nurse ordered. She is the light at the end of the day, when each afternoon, Deb returns home to a greeting — usually a flying head butt and nose nip - that is born of pure love and innocence. Mom and child engage in rousing matches of “Chase the Demented Rabbit Doll.” They share a frozen teething ring because Teddy has the teeth of a piranha and Deb is, after all, in her late 50s and her teeth are as sharp as a rubber eraser. They play chase the tennis ball, though Teddy usually wins. She has two extra feet to propel her, after all, and Deb is, well, in her late 50s and is usually on her feet for 12 hours a day. Eventually, puppy runs out of energy and falls asleep on her mother’s lap.
Each bears a look of heavenly contentment.
“Are you my baby?” Deb coos. She is, from sunrise to sunset.
Meanwhile, Teddy’s sibs are slowly adjusting to their rival for attention. Last week, Teddy and Abby (whom Teddy calls ‘Big Monster’) went toe to toe and chin to chin in a winner-take-all doggie version of NBA basketball. With the leaping and swatting ability of LeBron James, Teddy sprang some five feet into the air and smacked the mini basketball out of her sister’s mouth. Then she chastised Big Monster in a squeaky gibberish akin to that of Cousin It of Addams family lore. Big Monster looked at me, cocked a golden blonde eyebrow, and rolled her eyes. A rivalry had been born.
Yes, Big Monster little, even saviors are ‘human’ and have some growing up to do. Ironically, as I close this cute tale (tail) Teddy is serving a 10-minute timeout sentence for attempting to chew through a living room coffee table. She’s not taking the sentence well, for I can hear her rattling the bars of her minimum-security “cell” (her crate, complete with all the amenities of home) with her teething ring and pleading to be released on probation. A moment later, I hear the click of a key on the “cell door,” the pitter-patter of tiny infant canine paws as a blur of brown fuzz approaches. Then comes Deb’s foreboding warning: “INCOMING!!!!!”