My sister has lost her mind. She was the sane one in the family, considered so until an ugly bulldog with a vicious underbite came into our world.
“You know how I’ve always hated dogs,” she said, purely cooing, all but purring. “Hate them, hate them, hate them!”
I guess at this point we were supposed to feel elated she’d come to her senses and decided she hearts dogs after all.
It happened in a single golden moment.
She stood with mouth to the floor, her ticker fluttering with love at a fancy pet store in Rich City, Ga., the plutocracy she calls home.
Her two boys, appropriately tapped with rich and fancy names — Chad and Preston — were having a fit over an English bulldog. It sat snuffling and panting in its cage, a pet-store prison, waiting on some child to fall in love and bust it loose.
My sister and I went to the University of Georgia, and the mascot, Uga, was an English bulldog.
She paid the dogs much attention during the football games. I never once heard her say, “Dang, Sue. I love that dog. I gotta have that tub o’ love!!”
No, she waits until the middle-age crazies — that time in a woman’s life when she either gets a hormone patch, a new husband or redoes her kitchen — to get a dog.
Men get it, too. That’s when they get the blondes and red cars or wives with immigration issues.
But sister Sandy! A dog?
“I know, I know,” she said, “I hate them, but this was different. I saw her in the pet store and knew how bad the boys wanted her.”
They screamed and jumped up and down. “Let’s get her. Let’s buy her today.”
The price of this pooch was more than I paid for my wedding.
She made a deal with her sons. If their rich daddy would pay the price, she’d house and shelter the animal.
“Remember,” she warned. “I don’t like dogs.”
That was before P.Nut had spent her first night with the family, in my sister’s bed, on her pillow, using her Laura Ashley comforter and Ralph Lauren 850 thread-count sheets. How can one not fall madly in love after a night of heat regulation and heavy breathing? You see, my sister couldn’t just have bought a mutt with regular breathing and breeding skills.
She had to purchase a thoroughbred that must have help getting nookie, and as a breed are prone to C-sections because their baby’s heads are too big to birth. Put them in 80-degree weather, and they’ll fall over dead as a doorknob within minutes.
“We have to keep her indoors at all times,” Sandy said. “If her temperature fluctuates more than a few degrees, she’s a goner.”
Talk about a hovering new mother. She wasn’t this attentive with her own boys during their infancy.
“In the winter you have to dress them,” she said, trying to explain why she spent hundreds on a new wardrobe for this high-maintenance animal.
“Yes,” I said, “but how warm IS a polyester cheerleading skirt and vest?”
She went on to discuss more of the dog’s fashions, including UGA T-shirts, sweaters and collars.
“She’s got lots of bling-bling,” Sandy bragged. “We bought her a fake diamond collar, too.”
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“Oh, well for her debut into society.”
“Her coming-out party.”
“We didn’t have a debut into society.”
She poured a glass of wine. “That’s because Mom and Dad didn’t want society to see us.”
“I love that dog,” she kept saying. “I got an apron made with her picture on it. Preston was jealous and said, ‘You don’t have an apron with my picture on it.’”
Her husband, the one she plucked off the Internet, is taking it pretty well, all things considered, including the shared bed and dog’s ear-blasting snores.
“I started worrying I wasn’t paying David enough attention,” she said. “I was outside talking to a neighbor, and he drove by with his ‘I Love My Wife,’ bumper sticker. I saw the neighbor’s eyes go straight to my bumper. My sticker says, ‘I Love My Bulldog.’ ”
The ‘doggy debut’
I wanted to know about the doggy debut, not the neighbors’ feelings about things.
“Tell me what this Newnan/Fayette County Bulldog Club is all about?”
She began the story about how the area’s finest-bred English bulldogs are brought together for fun and games befitting one’s glorious pedigree. Because P.Nut was the newest member, she’d be introduced to the other bulldogs.
Turns out the lady hosting the event had a whole bunch of bulldogs, and all were named for characters in “Gone with the Wind.”
After the sun fell low, my sister, her boys and P.Nut drove to the home of the hostess and were greeted by the warmest of welcomes.
Half a dozen dogs rushed P.Nut and proceeded to show their affection in the most embarrassing of ways.
“Scarlett was out of commission with an ingrown tail,” Sandy explained. “She’d just had surgery. Scarlett is usually the major girl, and the Tarleton twins enjoy her. P.Nut was her stand-in, and the boys just loved her.”
It was awful having to explain to her sons what was going on. Apparently, bulldogs try to mate everything in sight but don’t have great aim.
“I guess that’s why you have to use a turkey baster to artificially inseminate them,” she said.
“They got P.Nut’s head, her sides, her ear … everything, but what they’d need to score.”
By now I was on the floor laughing. “She was having the time of her life,” Sandy said, “and loving every minute of it. I took pictures, but you can’t run them in the paper.”
I assured her we wouldn’t.
“It’s a family paper,” I said.
“It was a family party,” she countered.
“You know, the more I think about it, maybe they did like P.Nut better than Scarlett. She DID have that most unfortunate underbite. You could have used her mouth as a shovel, dug a 10-foot hole with that toothy spade.”
I asked her what everybody was doing and saying with all this hedonism going on in the room.
“Well,” Sandy said. “Belle Whatley, the dog, remember her? Rhett’s hooker friend? Belle was circling the perimeter keeping an eye on all the activity.”
What a party. Maybe, I’ll get a dog.
Oops. Already have one.