Monday, January 5, 2009

A real trooper

First off, Chickens would like you to know that this picture? And the pure and inconsolable misery it portrays? THIS ISN'T EVEN THE HALF OF IT.

Yes, while we all survived our road trip to New Mexico this Christmas, I cannot say it was easy. Not on any of us. First off, during our three-day journey to my mom's house in Clovis, N.M., we hit a couple of snowstorms. Honestly, the roads probably weren't even that bad, and visibility was decent. But 10 years of living in California have made me jittery about driving in snowstorms, and I broke a sweat creeping through this stuff, with knots in my stomach and my hands in a death grip on the steering wheel.

Thankfully I had absolutely NO trouble concentrating whatsoever, no, not at all was I distracted by the loudly sobbing dog in the back seat. Yeah, so it turns out the tranquilizers our vet gave us to calm him during travel had virtually no effect. The only difference I could tell is that he didn't hyperventilate quite as much as usual. Which is great, since it leaves a lot more energy for ear-piercing whines. Christ almighty, dog. Do you realize your dad and I would KILL to have someone ease our pain by poking drugs and treats into our box?!

We did eventually learn the trick to calming this dog in the car: Let him carry on in his box for three or four hours until he has exhausted himself, give him a second heaping helping of Xanax, and drag him onto your lap. He'll plop down and sleep like a baby. This gives you one content (if droopy) dog:

Once we arrived at my mother's, we introduced Chickens to his canine cousins: big white Dakota; Bosco and Chico, who were a bit closer to Chickenbone's size; and a little sweetie-pie named Cuddles, who could sit comfortably in the palm of your hand. Everyone gave each other a friendly nose-to-butt "Howdy!" and then Sal and I left to check into the hotel. And by "check into the hotel" I mean "find the nearest bar and enjoy the dog-free peace and quiet." It was bliss, and not just because our small-town scotch and sodas cost less than $10.

After our breather, we rejoined the family for a five-day visit that was, shall we say, chaotic, since Bosco and Chickens became mortal enemies almost immediately. Every couple hours or so, the fur would fly, with these two lunging teeth-first at each other's faces until the nearest human reached down to yank them apart. Also, when my brother's dog Nellie paid a visit, she promptly chomped down on Chickenbone's head, leaving small, bloody fang holes in his forehead and ear. Man, they grow 'em mean in Clovis.

So you'll understand what happened next, since what's a guy to do with a vacation that sucks this bad? My friend, you know it and I know it: When all else fails, make out with a stranger. And thus did Chickenbone, who fell deeply in love with the tiny Cuddles. I am telling you, I never saw anything like it. Chickens can barely stand the sight of most dogs, much less share a lap or blanket with one, as he did many times with this wee speck of a dog. I even taught him "Give Cuddles kiss!" at which point he'd start happily slurping at her mouth. She'd growl a bit, but more importantly, SHE NEVER TURNED AWAY. Hussie. Here's a picture of his beloved, wearing her pink Rocky Balboa bathrobe:

In between the snarls and howls and barks and bites, though, were many good times. My whole family was there, together at Christmas for the first time in probably six years. We played hilarious boardgames, drank many gallons of wine, and ate more good food than any person should be allowed to get away with. In fact, the scale tells me I most definitely did not get away with it. Oh, well. Next up, a post about how my New Year's resolutions will simply melt away the pounds, both quickly and easily!