I’m in a living situation now that requires me to look after a miniature Chihuahua named Spike. He bears a closer resemblance to a prosimian. The landlord’s son calls the dog Murciélago which means bat in Spanish. I guess he’s onto something because my little balding friend has pinkish pointy ears and isn’t much of a barker either. He’s a squeaker. To assuage his finicky appetite I toss a few bits of E.L Stripes into his bowl. He prefers these to rubber bones and Tostitos.
Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m embarrassed to take him out for walks because he’s so tiny that pulling him along by leash seems vaudevillian— the skits I imagine my grandfather enjoyed during The Great Depression.
One thing is for sure. Since I’ve hooked up with Spike I’ve had my share of strange interludes. Shopping for groceries last week, an old lady scolded me, outside Trade Fair, for starving the dog. I told her it wasn’t mine and that miniature Chihuahuas had equally miniature appetites. She told me not to be a wiseass and to take responsibility for my actions. This is, by the way, was why I’ve been offering him burger bites, Ring Dings, and other savory snacks, in addition to his Alpo.
Two days ago, a Doberman tried to bite Spike’s head off. I snagged the little guy just in time, like I’d recovered a fumbled Nerf ball, tucked him under arm and went home.
Today I took a break from the pooch and played racquetball. Would you believe a gargantuan golden retriever found its way onto my court and pilfered my ball during a particularly strenuous rally? I gazed at the mottled wall, ascertained that there were no holes in the back fence and then was greeted by a familiar old lady in a lilywhite sun bonnet. She and her flushed cheeks loped after the estranged animal.
She clapped a few times, but the dog galloped around the court mocking me with his new toy, my ball, clenched between his teeth.
“Foxy, come here,” she said.
I kept my composure. Silly names give me the giggles. I squeezed my racquet by its neck, eyed my bag resting upside down against the fence, then set my legs apart, bending at the knees.
“She gets loopy when she sees a ball,” she said.
“Who doesn’t?” I said.
“Come on Foxy, cough it up.”
“No, no,” I said. “It’s okay, I’ve got another.
Foxy dropped the ball, his slobber glistening in the noon beams.
I waved it off.
“I feel so bad,” the old lady said, adjusting the brim of her bonnet.
“No worries,” I said. “Just keep him on a leash.”
“I will,” she said.
I didn’t bother to mention that we’d bumped into each other before. She probably didn’t recognize me since I was clean-shaven this time, but it felt good to get in the reprimanding.
They skedaddled and I went back to my solo game against the wall. After the next missed backhand, I saw Foxy zeroing in on the softball field. The first rip to left center she dropped my rubber-blue Bodega-bought spaldeen and scurried after the grapefruit-sized softball. She raised her furry head like a Westminster Kennel Show Champ.
I took a deep breath of muggy air and consigned myself to the hardscrabble fact that if I planned to take Spike on any more long walks he was going to have to load up on protein shakes or take steroids.