By Nicole Cater
This could just as easily be titled “The Evolution of Love.” And really, who doesn’t like a good sequel? Fredo came home and just like his unusual brindley outside, he showed us his unusual gentle soul inside. Many Chihuahuas get a bad rap. They are high-strung, yippy barking dogs with no social skills. Oh, but not my dearest. He has a deep bark that issues forth from his strong barrel chest, but he seldom uses it. He is a lounge lizard, a couch potato, the ultimate lump. You can put him somewhere, leave and hours later, there he will be. Once he is introduced to a new person, he has made a friend for life, except for the ladies. Fredo loves the ladies; he doesn’t wait to be introduced. He just walks up and flirts his wiggly little butt off.
Not long after he came home, I realized Fredo was a genius, and that he did not always use his powers for good. You may think I’m bragging, but I’m not. I’m being honest. I enrolled him in an obedience class. It took him two tries to respond to “look at me.” The second class was teaching how to sit. Fifteen minutes in, he was sitting and wondering what the deal was with all the other schmoes. I decided then and there he was too good for this class. These dogs were amateurs. My dog was skilled. He needed personal attention, not some trainer distracted by mentally slow dogs.
Sitting was just a basic move. After a day, he was sitting pretty; straight up, paws clasped to his chest. He can do this for as long as you hold out the treat. Two days later he was giving high fives. He is way too cool to shake hands. His next achievement was the up and around, basically dancing in a circle. He commando crawls on the carpet. He does the circus walk, following you in dancing steps. He can also do it in reverse. He rolls over, but only on soft surfaces. I can’t say I blame him for that. His standing record is eight times in a row. The truly amazing thing is he does all of this by hand signals alone. You don’t have to say a word.
He loves to ride in bags. If you set one down and open it up, he’ll climb right in. And he won’t get out until he goes somewhere, even if you just walk him around the house. He’s learned the meaning of “inside bark” and that apartment buildings are not the place for outside barks. He has a large wardrobe, and he actually likes wearing clothes. When presented with a sweater, he even pokes his head through himself.
Like I said, he has been known to use his skills for evil. If another dog takes a toy from him, simply because he has it, he will go and get another toy, tricking the dog into taking the new toy so he can rescue his old one. At dinner time, he’s been known to finish his food, go to the picture window and start barking. When the other dogs run to see what the commotion is, he’ll run back into the kitchen and eat their food; helping himself to a little extra dinner. In the summer, he loves to lie outside in the heat, getting his tan on. He won’t come when called, and when you pick him up (which inevitably he will make you do), he will go boneless; flopping his dead weight around to frustrate you into leaving him to his peace.
But these are mere parlor tricks. Fredo does these to get what he wants, which is usually food. But I will reiterate; Fredo is a genius. He has a job. He knows there are actions required of him. The reward for his job is love, loyalty and care. And he performs his job for the same reasons.
When I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder, medication only helped so much with the stress and the anxiety. What did help was Fredo. And so he went through a new kind of training. He learned to come running when he heard the dog clicker. That meant I was in trouble and needed him. He learned how to go into public places with me, staying right by my side. He was taught how to gauge my anxiety level and when to act as a buffer between me and other people; he knows when it’s time to lead me out of situations that I’m on the verge of not handling. He can sit completely still while I hold him during a panic attack as long as I need too. And though he doesn’t always enjoy it, he is the perfect little spoon when I just need contact, cuddling, and a little furry love. Not to mention he looks dashing in his official uniform.
Although his status as a therapy dog allows him to go anywhere, due to his impeccable manners, he is often requested to attend events. He has standing invitations at all of my friends’ houses. He has been invited to church, he went to my work, and he attends parties. He goes to family gatherings.
The truth is. I saved Fredo. And then he turned around and saved me back. We are symbiotic. We cannot exist apart. The night I saw his picture, I finally became a believer in love at first sight. But there was no way I could know from that picture, from that first meeting, the actual depths of love one can have. If a dog can be a soul mate, then Fredo is mine. He is my love, my entertainer, my protector, my solace. It may sound silly that a dog taught me just how divine a pure love can be. But at least I learned. And for that, I owe him everything.
This is our new Wicked Short Stories page with submissions from various Authors. Please look for bio-snippets about the Author at the bottom of the various pieces. Enjoy!