They always say that a dog resembles their owner. In my family’s case, that means that our dogs are totally fucking insane.
There was the albino boxer with epilepsy, and another boxer who had no control over her bladder. There was the bulldog who was allergic to grass. Incidentally, he also liked to eat other people’s cats. There were the dogs who ran away, and the dogs who ate hair, and the dogs who were so hyper that if they sat still, their bodies shook uncontrollably.
Our dogs, if they are male, are always named after famous Irish boxers (Dempsey, McGee). And if they’re female, they’re named Molly or Nell. Neither a Molly nor Nell has ever lasted more than a week in my family before they’re returned to the breeder, usually because of some debilitating inherited disease.
That is, besides the Nell who currently resides in a gigantic crate in the front hallway of our house. She is an English Mastiff. She has a snaggle tooth. She’s afraid of everything, but mostly people, dogs, inanimate objects, ghosts, the world, food, water and if they approach her too fast, basically any member of my family.
When out of her comfort zone, she attacks people, which means that unless she is literally strapped to my father’s torso, we can’t bring her for walks in public. She weighs 170 pounds, and on the few occasions when my father has tried to act macho, and hold her with one arm, he’s ended up sprawled out of the ground, his shoulder dislocated, with Nell yelping in fear at a chihuahua 150 feet in front of him.
There is not a veterinarian in Westchester county who will see Nell. The last time one tried to give her a shot, she chewed through her muzzle, and almost bit off his face.
For twenty-five years, the man had taken care of every single one of our animals. Now, he won’t even return my mother’s phone calls.
When happy, Nell is as needy as a pregnant sixteen year old girl. All she wants to be is petted and loved and kissed on the top of her head.
When scared, she’s like a monster under your bed, which means that if you come after her, she bares her teeth at you, screams, and then hides in her crate.
When she runs, she looks like an uneven lump of clay barreling towards your legs, picking up detritus from the ground. When she’s tired, she looks like Eeyore. She curls her body in on herself, and looks forlorn.
Today, I went home for Mother’s Day. It was a gorgeous day. There was nothing to do, and I was extremely fucking bored. So I decided to take a photograph of each one of my family members with Nell.
The idea came to me when I ran into Stuprendan walking Nell around the yard, yelling things at her like: “With me!” and “Sit…Sit…Sit…Sit…GODDAMMIT SIT NELL.” Nell just started working with a new trainer, who is also training Stuprendan to handle her.
Stuprendan has the temperament of Napoleon when he was in exile, without an army. Which means that he was more than happy to take Nell on as a living thing to be subjugated to his will.
As Stuprendan barked commands, Nell, who is not only immune to good behavior, but also extremely stupid, was standing placidly at the end of her Easter pink leash, drooling all over the lawn.
“Oh, this looks fun,” I said to myself, and called Stuprendan over to where I was standing, near the shed, watching my baby sisters clean off the winter from their toys.
“Stand there, and pose with Nell,” I said. He immediately froze his face, flexed his muscles, and straightened his back.
“This is good,” I said, as I snapped away with my iPhone. Stuprendan held himself meticulously, the collar of his polo shirt popped. Occasionally, Nell lifted up her head to sniff his crotch.
After I had exhausted every possible angle with Stuprendan, I was ready to move on to my next subject. “Kiki,” I shouted to my youngest sister. “Come here and let me take your picture.”
“What?” she said, running up, her voice slightly lispy through her two missing front teeth. “I can play with your iPhone?” she asked hopefully.
“No, let me take your picture with Nell,” I said, gathering her to me, and kissing her cheek. She pulled away from me, and gave me her “bitch, please” look.
“No way,” she said. “I hate that dog.”
When Nell was only a puppy, and Kiki was only a baby, there had been a biting incident that neither one of them has ever forgotten.
“Alright,” I sighed, and scanned the yard for my next victim. My mother, noticing my glance, shuffled behind the side of the playhouse. Blara, who was running in circles around the yard, listening to electronic music, screamed as if her skin was burning when I aimed the lens at her face. My third sister, Raia, was busy putting air in her new soccer ball, and my father was taking a nap on the front porch. My other brother, Pickle, was no where to be found. Because both Blara and I were roaming free around the property, I can only imagine that he was in his panic room. “I guess I’m the only one left,” I said to Stuprendan, shrugging my shoulders as if that were a bad thing. “Let’s go to the apple orchard.”
Stuprendan followed me willingly. I took Nell’s leash, and scratched her big head as she lay down beside me. “Get me from this angle,” I said to Stuprendan as I sank to my knees, gathering my sailor striped skirt around me. He snapped away as I turned my body side to side, and manipulated Nell’s face in optimal ways so that it would best show how gigantic she was in comparison to my own slender frame.
There are a number of pictures I’m not posting, mostly because in them, my legs look fat.
After an acceptable amount of time, Stuprendan was finished taking pictures. He left went inside the house, where he needed to work on hacking into my email account and ruining my life. I was left alone with Nell.
“Nell, go stand by that lilac bush,” I instructed her.
She looked up at me dumbly.
“Go over there, Nell,” I said, pointing at the bush.
She didn’t budge.
So I strolled over to the bush, and she followed me, tail wagging. “Stay,” I said, and then walked a few feet away.
Nell sat down. Right as I opened my camera application, she sat down, lifted her head, and started licking her vagina.