>Our dog, Gilmore, has many fine qualities. He is gentle, not a barker, and is an excellent foot warmer. He is a lover, not a hater and greets everyone with equal joy. Also, he is a few crayons short of a full box, if you know what I mean. And while this might be a bad quality in, say, a world leader, it’s not necessarily a bad quality in a dog. True, Gilmore is half lab and half golden – both of which indicate that he should be able to retrieve things. But no. I throw a ball and he either eats it or rolls around on it to give himself a back massage. Either way, he comes back to me sans ball. Goldens and Labs are also supposed to be water dogs. Gilmore won’t step off the patio if the grass is wet. While his lack of retrieving skills and fear of water don’t bother me, his most unfortunate quality does. Alas, dear Gilmore is a poop eater. A non-discriminate poop eater. Deer poop? Yes please! Cat poop? A crunchy delicacy! His own poop? Mmm – it’s still warm!
So you can imagine Gilmore’s excitement when we brought home a baby. Especially when coming through the front door for the first time Zoey let loose with a poonami that coated the travel outfit, the car seat, the diaper bag. And, oh yeah, the baby. It took us a mere 24 hours, several stretches of streaked carpet, and 3 partially ingested diapers to purchase dog proof diaper cans.
Once the poop was secured, Gilmore’s enthusiasm for Zoey did wane a bit. But he remained loyal to me. When I fed Zoey at 1 am, 3 am, 5am, and was crying from being so tired, he would rest his block head on my knee and sigh. Then he would lay in front of the rocker so I could rest my feet on his big yellow belly. Eventually I would calm and our breathing would match – rise, fall, rise, fall. When the feeding was done, he followed me back to bed, resting his jaw on the mattress by my head until I fell asleep. Only then would he wonder to his dog bed and shut his eyes.
Gilmore’s interest in Zoey was slowly rekindled as she became more mobile. Then, one fine day, Gilmore discovered he could make Zoey laugh by licking her feet. This was somewhat of a hygiene issue, what with all the poop eating. Drastic measures were taken. My handy husband constructed a keep-dog-out-of-the-kitty-litter device using climbing rope, a bungee cord, and a few well placed screws. The cat could lithely enter the Poop Palace but Gilmore’s block head was blocked. Every time Gilmore went into the back yard we followed him around with a shovel. Non-poop eating behavior was rewarded with other tasty treats: corn chips, cheese, deluxe peanut butter dog chews. Progress was made. Gilmore could lick Zoey’s feet without necessitating a slow motion layout jump and a cry of “Noooooooooo!” from my husband or me. We were pleased. The Grandparents, however, continued to express displeasure. I think my dad’s exact words were, “That is disgusting and wrong.”
Now that Zoey is in a highchair, is eating some solid foods (and pushing lots more on to the floor), Gilmore is over the moon. Forget about poop. There are graham crackers, Cheerios, bits of chicken. And cheese flavored Goldfish. Oh the Goldfish! Yes, my dog and my daughter have bonded over sharing snacks.
Gilmore is a lot more than a foot rest. He is the perfect warm and cozy nook for Zoey to read a book in. He’s a good listener and is always willing to look at Mr. Brown Can Moo one more time (whereas I am not). Gilmore’s tolerance for peek-a-boo is endless. He can make Zoey stop crying by placing his velvety head against her chest or by nudging her hand with his wet nose. A session of feet licking is still one of Zoey’s favorite ways to spend time. Zoey and Gilmore spend hours every day looking out the low window in the play room. They sit side by side, Zoey’s arm slung casually over Gilmore’s back. Zoey chatters at Gilmore, his tail thwacks the carpet. They watch the world go by. I have to hope that Zoey will take on some of Gilmore’s better qualities. His gentleness and his capacity for love. And I have to hope she avoids his taste for poop.