Back when my pug Vader was alive going through a drive-thru of any kind was a real experience. That’s because Vader saw every drive-thru as a McDonald’s and McDonald’s meant Fillet O’ Fish, his favorite treat. He loved them so much that on the day he died, I took him through the drive-thru one last time and let him eat away to his heart’s content. I’m not sure he had ever tasted them before that; he used to practically inhale them. But on that last day, I saw him really savoring the last bite, not able to finish the third fillet I had purchased.
Because Vader loved his fillets, going to the drive-thru bank was problematic. He would start to salivate and moan and whimper and bark believing that instead of cash and a dog biscuit, the window held the promise of his treasure. The dry, old milk bone that the teller offered with a smile hardly sufficed and he would bark so loudly and whine so badly that I would have to make the 10-mile trip, one way, to the closest McDonald’s.
Vader is gone, but going to the bank hasn’t gotten any easier. Perhaps Alfie remembers Vader’s behavior and what it produced or perhaps she and Waffles find the sight of the teller too exciting, but as we approached the drive-thru today the two started screeching. Alfie was hopping up in her car seat and Waffles throwing herself at the window in the hopes that she would slip out of her harness to freedom. The teller smiled a sinister smile as if she were immensely pleased that she was safe behind the window glass. She offered two tiny dog treats, which rather than appeasing my duo, set them off on another frantic rush at the glass. I drove off without counting my money, my car screaming.
I’m not sure what’s happened, but my two charming little female pugs have become treacherous gremlins as late. You know, like in the Steven Spielberg movie – “Don’t ever feed them after midnight?” Yet, while little Gizmo came with this pertinent instruction, I have no idea what has set my two off.
Before Waffles came, Alfie was finally bidding her puppyhood goodbye. She has become a seasoned couch potato, the perfect writing dog, always by my side or my feet. When Waffles came the two became enamored with each other, playing together, sleeping together. I almost could have gotten so jealous if it wasn’t so cute. There’s been a little adjustment with Waffles – I still can’t stop her from tipping over every trashcan in the house – but overall it seemed like she was fitting right in. I couldn’t tell who was top dog, the two seemed to take turns relinquishing their food or toys to the other, but I figured they’d work it out.
A few weeks ago things began changing and I’m not sure what changed. Alfie turned into a whirling dervish, always alert, always panting. She and Waffles play like mad, but suddenly Alfie is not seeing or hearing me at all. The two have stopped eating unless you lock them in their pens and sit with Waffles. You can’t take them for rides in the car without them going ballistic. If Alfie gets loose, she refuses to come to me. My sweet, best friend doesn’t seem to care much for me at all and sometimes it hurts.
Today, I was ready to pull my hair out. After going through the drive-thru, I turned to look in the back and saw Alfie had toppled her car seat and was hidden beneath it. Waffles was panting and snorting badly as if she might faint and I suddenly realized she had managed to wrap her seatbelt around her leg and if she moved much more she might break it. At that moment, my father called on my cellphone to report on my mother’s doctor’s appointment.
“What the heck’s that noise?” he asked. I’m not sure if he was referring to Waffles hacking snorts or Alfie’s frantic panting. As he went on talking about knee braces, osteoarthritis and surgery, I tried desperately to untangle Waffle’s while body blocking Alfie who was ramming her head into my side to get out of the car.
“Um, I think I’m ready to sell them,” I only half-joked.
Seriously, I would never get rid of my dogs, but I have to wonder what happened to those idyllic visions of a peaceful life spent with animals. These two are definitely not acting like man’s best friend and I’m not sure what has set them off. Most training books would probably trace it back to me, but I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.
I have decided to probably forgo drive-thrus for a while, at least to the pecking order is established and the screaming has stopped.