This morning, after what appears to be my new regular two hour nap, I wake up with that eerie sensation that I’m being stared at.
That my every move is being calculated and followed.
I really should blame myself and my shameless toy collections.
On any given morning, I am greeted by minions, amiibos, matryoshka dolls, bobbleheads, figurines and anything else I’ve collected.
Sure, I can lie and pretend these are my nieces and nephews, but then they would think they could play with them.
And I don’t like to share.
And I also don’t want them thinking they too can befriend my toys and have meaningful conversations with them like I do.
I’m half joking.
I turn my lamp on, scan the room and realize that my toys are still asleep. I don’t like to wake them, we had some late night chats.
Still feeling like I’m being watched, I hear a snort, very different from the toy based chortle.
And then I see the culprit. Enter my dog, Julia:
I know this to be true because look at how easily she photo bombed this picture of my beer, making it look like the beer is in her way.
Julia Sophia Siino, JuJu, Juju Bean, Julie…..Juuuuuuuuulia as my mom used to say.
She’s a master manipulator.
She has a plan.
Some family members, friends and guests of my home will say she’s evil, mean, unfriendly and hates all people.
I just think she’s an introvert.
I also think she’s my smartest sibling.
Sure, she mistreats me too sometimes, but maybe that’s because since we brought her home almost 10 years ago, I pretended to be a dog.
The ” great regression” of 2006 had me crawling around the house, eating from the floor and growling at unwanted family, guests and visitors in attempts of climatizing Julia to her new home.
You will be pleased to know that I’ve matured somewhat and don’t do that anymore.
Sadly, the growling is a necessary evil.
During the regression, I was on a mission; I needed to make Julia feel welcome in her new home.
She needed some dog skills coaching.
Julia was purchased only a few days after the passing of Sophia, our beloved original Shih-Tzu who lived a long and happy life within our large and happy family.
The new puppy purchase was an attempt to fill the feeling of loss and shock that rippled through the family.
It was a sad time as we had also lost someone in our lives who was very much my second father a few weeks beforehand.
Those were very sad times.
Especially for my mother.
The irony of this strategy is not lost on me.
How I wish we could do that with our beloved humans.
Buy a new one. Feel better. Move on.
My mom would tell the better story about how she chose Julia, because, really, you don’t choose a dog…the dog chooses you.
My sisters responded to the classified ad and took her to see the clan of rambunctious Shi-tzus, romping around, gnawing at each other. The smell of puppy, the whimpering sounds…all of those things you’d expect with an excessive litter.
At the time, there was one little puppy, huddled in the corner, very silent.
The quintessential runt of the litter.
Tiny. Silent. Hopeful.
My mom walked over to this fluff ball, and the puppy, who hadn’t bothered with anyone, waddled over to my mom, nudged her arm and then fell asleep in the palm of her hand.
And, for the first time in several weeks, this tiny gesture became the catalyst for the unthinkable.
Julia made my mom smile.
With one gesture, she became a part of our family story.
Originally named “Belle” by the breeders, soon we realized “Beast” was more suitable.
The shy puppy who wouldn’t bark and melted our hearts turned into the family bully.
Her teething phase has lasted several years now.
She demands attention.
She will escort guests to the door once she’s decided it’s time for her to leave.
She steals pairs of socks and then returns them one at a time to drive me crazy.
In fact, she woke me up today because in her mind, she was awake and so too should her pet humans.
We are pawns in Julia’s game of chess.
I’ve grown to love the mistreatment.
In spite of her shortcomings, I’ll never forget the joy she brought to my mother.
And that’s most important.