If you have not been privileged enough to meet my dog . . . well, I’ll do my best to describe the poor creature. We call him Ribsy because he has a story, just like Beverly Cleary’s canine protagonist has a whole book about him. Our Ribsy was discovered nearly two years ago by a close friend of ours who loves animals. She lives in a neighborhood of horse properties and was out one day cleaning out stalls or something when she heard a strange noise coming from the backyard of the vacant house next door. She decided to investigate. It turns out that the noise was our future dog’s last-ditch effort at moaning for help. He was trapped in a fenced-in enclosure without food or water and had been in that dire position for a week, or more. He had been left in the backyard with a barrel of food to eat and the pool for drinking water, as well as a dogsitter who would come by to check on him – but that person decided to go on vacation. Ribsy had got himself trapped – probably during the process of searching for a human life form – and was nearly dead of starvation, having been unsuccessful in his attempts to escape by clawing a screen door to shreds and a wooden gate to splinters.
After our friend convinced my parents that we should take the dog (she already had two dogs and two horses), they brought him home as a surprise. My then 13-year-old sister’s reaction: “What. Is that.” He did look pretty awful – long, unkempt ears that kept flopping on top of his head and getting stuck there; long, straggly tail with a nice poof on the end, straight out of a DR. Seuss book or something. But I loved him, because he’s a dog!
After being christened Ribsy (after Beverely Cleary’s character) and given a much-needed bath and haircut, Ribsy turned out to be the size of a large-ish Jack Russel terrier and the coloring of a Yorkie, although he is technically a Lhasa Apso/Papillon mix (don’t ask me what that means.) And it didn’t take us long to find out that Ribsy isn’t right in his mind.
Let me elaborate:
1) Ribsy is severely afraid of thunder, lightning, firecrackers, fireworks, and flash photography. To sum up: anything that flashes and/or goes boom. He will demonstrate his terror by shaking like a permanently-vibrating cell phone (wow, good analogy), panting as if he is suffocating, and looking at you as if you are torturing him. He hides between people’s legs, gasps for air, stares around him looking for help, and sometimes throws up – it is not a pleasant scene. Our favorite story to tell of this paranoia occurred when my grandparent’s were visiting last year. Ribsy was on the porch outside our kitchen enjoying the cool night air, and we had shut the glass sliding door because we were enjoying the warm house air. We decided to take a picture. We faced my dad holding the camera, our backs to the glass door. As soon as the flash had ended, we heard a terrific BOOM or SMACK or THUD – something like that – on the glass door. Upon whirling around in horror, we discovered it was Ribsy throwing his body repeatedly upon the door, begging to be let in and saved from the horrific lightning from our camera. . .
You know what, this topic is good enough for two posts! I will write more about my precious dog’s psychoses (plural) next time I blog.
Remember, always let sleeping dog’s lie,
Posted 9th January 2009 by Cassie