Tuesday, August 10, 2010

That Yorkie...

By now, everybody and his cousin knows I have a Yorkshire Terrier. I wanted one for a long time but now that I've had her a while, I've discovered that she is not the sweet, cuddly little lapdog I expected.

Because I have dander allergies, a Yorkie was a natural choice: they don’t shed. They also don’t smell doggie, even when they look like they could do with a bath, which is a good thing when you have a dog that has made her bed permanently in your pillows.

I’m no dummy when it comes to dogs, and I researched the Yorkie breed pretty well before my practical brain could support my desire for one of these handbag-sized pooches. I am a bit of an intellectual snob, preferring the intelligent over the bumbling dumb, so I was a bit disappointed to discover that Yorkies aren’t very high on the doggie IQ scale…closer to a end table than to Einstein. But their spunky natures and winning personalities—and quite frankly, their lack of allergens in their coats—won me over.

So, now I have my Yorkie. She is 19 months old and I’ve had her since the day she turned six weeks (no lectures from Americans, please…puppies go home at six weeks here, just like they once did in the States). She’s small and silly and energetic and stiff-necked stubborn and more like a little kid than a dog, and positively adorable!

And she has quirks, some of them positively hilarious, even while being simultaneously irritating, Yesterday, for example, Hubby and I took in a book fair. I took along a tote bag because he and I are both profoundly addicted to the written word and we cannot exit a book store without having purchased something…why would a book fair be any different? Sure enough, we bought books and collected a few pamphlets and brochures and when we got home, I put the tote bag on the bed, intending to empty it momentarily. I put up my handbag and took off my shoes and when I returned to the bed, the bag had mysteriously grown much heavier…about 6 pounds heavier, to be exact. I hefted the bag and out between the handles popped a little Yorkie head!

Puddin’ loves bags! But not any bag will do. No, she shuns shopping bags and paper bags and even the cloth grocery bags you can buy at the market. How she tell the difference between a cheap cloth shopping bag and a pricey leather and tapestry handbag is beyond me, but she can. My husband gave me just such a bag as a gift last year and before I could get all of the tissue wadding out of it, Puddin’ was in it! She has even been found perched on a pile of unmentionables in a travel bag, a clear message that she knew what we were about and we were not going to be allowed to leave her behind!

And she’s clever that way…for a member of a supposedly dull breed, she is uncommonly sharp. Her love for bags includes a love of my cosmetics bag…well, actually, I think she has a love-hate relationship with that one. On the one hand, given an opportunity, she will remove as much of the contents of the bag as necessary to allow her to climb in and nest; on the other hand, the emergence of that bag invariably signals that Mama is putting on her face and going out…and probably leaving the Yorkchop behind. Locked in the cavernous bathroom. Cold and lonely with nothing for protection from the cold tile floor but a custom-lined, padded basket and two hand-crocheted blankets. And nothing to eat but dog food specially formulated for Yorkies. Alone with only 27 toys and stuffed animals for company. Poor pitiful Puddin’…the makeup bag sings both an alluring siren song and a dirge, and if I am successful in wresting it away from her, while I paint on my face, she secrets herself under the blankets of my bed or burrows beneath the pillows in an effort to hide herself and avoid confinement in solitary.

But she always gives herself away…she has to breathe so that little black button nose is poked out somewhere, and she is as curious as a cat. Invariably, one eye is trained on me as I prepare to go out, one eye that not only gives away her position, but speaks to her fragile hope: maybe I will get to go this time, too.

She watches for me to take out one of her nappies because that signals that she’s going with us. As a puppy, too tiny to get down from the bed by herself and, like little kids everywhere, driven by an urgent call from Nature, she peed on the bed one time too often. My husband is not a huge fan of dogs, having been bitten and terrorized by them in his Apartheid-era childhood, and so I was concerned that her propensity for relieving herself on the duvet might make her a tad unpopular with him. So, I sat down at the sewing machine and whipped up a few pairs of nappies, to be worn with an absorbent, disposable pad, and that problem was solved. What evolved from that, however, was a habit of diapering her each time we took her out so that she couldn’t answer the call of nature on the floor of a shop or the walkway of a farmer’s market or any other similarly inconvenient location. Over time she became house trained (and we got her a step stool so she could get on and off the bed at will), but we continued using the nappies for outings and so the appearance of a nappy immediately following Mama’s preoccupation with the makeup bag became, for her, a harbinger of happier times a-comin’.

I know a number of people who have small dogs and who swear that the moment a winter jersey is produced from the cupboard, their dog makes for the hills. Puddin’, however, because she associates those nappies with an outing, is eager to cooperate. She will bolt from hiding, run to my lap and assume an alert, “attention”-like position and actually cock one of her back legs to give me access to the fasteners over her tummy. Once dressed (and yes, sometimes she get a dress or one of her velour jogging suits in addition to the nappy), she prances out the bedroom door and, after the obligatory pirouette at the top of the stairs, waits impatiently for her slow-pokish humans to get their lazy bums in gear and get the show in the road!

She’s really been an entertaining little minx, “good value for money,” as my husband puts it. She barks at noises, alerting us to possible danger, her rodent-scenting skills are superb (she knew we had rats long before the first one turned up in full rigor in the drying yard), and there isn’t a day goes by that she doesn’t provide us with at least one laugh. We have reached a point, in fact, that we often wonder what she’s planning for us next…


  1. What a wonderful picture! I am getting a dog soon and I am almost positive I'm going to get a Yorkie. I'm waiting until our travels this fall are over (I don't want to leave the dog during his first 6 months and I also know I cannot take the dog to Egypt with me). I really enjoyed reading this post! It's so obvious how much you love your Puddin!

  2. My mother has a yourkie and they are very sweet - but I had no idea that they didn't shed. Very sweet little thing you got there.


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