This is Alycia:

Alycia (2)

Alycia-my-Valentine, to be exact. She was my Valentine’s Day gift from my husband in 1988. We went to look at a litter of shih tzu pups and I remember the lady had set one of the pups off to the side. I liked the coloring of that one, so I asked if that pup had already been claimed by someone else. She said, “No. But you don’t want that one. It’s defective.”

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked.

She picked the pup up and said, “look at her eyes.”

I looked. The pup had one brown eye and one blue eye. “Hey, that’s cool!” I said.

The lady frowned at me because clearly I knew nothing about dogs. “No, it’s not cool. That’s a genetic defect.”

There was that word again.

I reached for the pup and she snuggled up against me. I was sold. This was the pup I wanted.

“Are you sure?” the lady asked. “You haven’t even looked at any of the others. And you’re not going to be able to show this dog because she’s got this defect.”

I didn’t care about showing. I just wanted a dog that would curl up on my lap when I read or watched TV. And frankly, I was a little concerned about what was going to happen to a puppy that had been described as “defective” more than once. Personally, I found the two different colored eyes endearing.

It turned out to be a win-win situation. The lady gave us a deal because of the “defect” and we took the pup off her hands.

My husband and I still didn’t have kids at this point, but now we had two dogs. Alycia and Plato. And they were like our kids. I remember my husband I took a trip out east and left the dogs with my parents. I called to check on them. More than once. More than twice. And each time I reminded my mother to make sure the leash was on both dogs before she opened the door (remember the bean field incident with Muffin?).

Alycia got along very well with Plato. They used to run down our hallway together (usually united in their mission to chase the cat) and when Alycia would get excited, she’d nip Plato’s ears. Both dogs had their own crates, but it wasn’t long before Alycia stopped using hers. She preferred to go in with Plato. And he didn’t seem to mind. If we’d forget to lock them up when we went out, and Plato had gotten into another loaf of bread, we’d come home to find her sitting right by the door (Plato would be nowhere in sight) looking at us like, “I didn’t do it!” Even though she might have bread crumbs around her mouth. We always knew when she was sitting there and Plato wasn’t around that they had gotten into trouble while we were out.

She wasn’t as much of a “kid” dog as Plato was, though. She put up with the kids when they came along, but she much preferred the company of adults.

When we moved to Rochester, MN, Alycia went to the farm with Plato until we were able to buy a new house. But when it came time to move to Iowa, and we had to give Plato away, we had another option for Alycia. My mother really liked Alycia (she thought Plato was “too big”), so…I asked my folks if they’d take her until we could get a new house. They didn’t have another dog at this point, so they said yes. So I only had to give up one dog when we moved. But then when we were able to take her back, my mother didn’t want to give her back. So we let her keep Alycia. At least we’d still get to see her. In fact, we got to take care of her anytime my parents went anywhere (which was pretty often!).

My mother changed when she had Alycia. Remember those rules I mentioned back when I talked about my childhood dogs? Those rules didn’t really apply to Alycia. I remember my brother telling me that Alycia was IN THE LIVING ROOM watching TV with my mother. (He and I weren’t even allowed to be in the living room when we were kids!) Actually, I think Alycia just knew how to work my mother. She knew the rule about staying in the kitchen, but she’d push it. She’d move into the hallway…then she’d creep a little further into the hallway…pretty soon she’d be at the edge of the living room. Eventually my mother would notice and send her back to the kitchen. But Alycia would keep doing this over and over until one day (after a period of months) she was simply allowed in there.

It wasn’t too long after that that my brother asked me to “guess” where Alycia sleeps. I didn’t have to guess…I knew where she slept. The back hall. That’s where dogs always slept in my parents’ house. “Wrong,” my brother said. Apparently, Alycia was allowed to sleep in my parents’ bedroom. I couldn’t believe it! No dog had EVER been allowed on the second floor of our house before. My mother said that Alycia was afraid of storms…that’s why she was allowed up there. But…it didn’t storm every night.

So I guess the lesson to be learned from Alycia is…if you’re small and cute, you can get away with things that other people (or dogs) can’t. Not a very good lesson, I’m afraid. But she really was awfully cute…and another very sweet dog.

Dogs I have known…part 6

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