Rosie is Insanely Jealous of My Hot New Girlfriend. And We Haven’t Even Met.

When I adopted Rosie, I made a promise to myself that if I had anything to do with it, she wasn’t going to be one of those needy, dependent, shaky, barky, unapproachable, jealous, neurotic Chihuahuas that you see in some people’s purses. It was not too difficult a task because she has a lot of terrier in her (and also because I don’t carry a purse), but still, I was aware that even dogs that are part Chihuahua can be a jealous breed when a new love interest enters the picture. And me, not being in a committed relationship at the time, wanted to be able to date and not have Rosie bite my potential girlfriends’ hands off every time they came over for a drink.

The first woman I dated after rescuing Rosie wasn’t really an animal person and made no effort to bond with the dog. Rosie wasn’t too fond of her either (ultimately, neither was I). I take the blame for part of that. Rosie was a new addition and the relationship with this woman (we’ll call her “fucker” for anonymity’s sake) began around the same time I got Rosie. Rosie barely had time to acclimate to me or her new surroundings much less this new person.

I made an extra effort to iron out the wrinkles between fucker and Rosie (I bought a toy and had fucker give it to her; I let fucker walk her; I made fucker talk to her in the “special” voice I use with Rosie; and I made fucker pet her when we were watching TV). Nothing worked. Rosie glared, growled, nipped at fucker’s fingers, and gave her the side eye. After two months, my relationship with fucker was obviously falling apart, so I did what any sensible dog parent would do — I told her the truth: “It’s not you; it’s Rosie.”

Enter: Hazel. A beautiful, big-hearted, funny, bright, charming English woman I recently contacted on OkCupid. The one teeny tiny catch? She lives in Australia. Halfway around the world. It would have been hard to have found someone farther away. I didn’t intentionally aim to find someone 10,617 miles across the globe; Hazel was simply too irresistible to ignore. So, we haven’t met and don’t know when we will (though we have vowed to), but we talk on the phone through the free Facebook messenger app, and we email and text all the time. It feels fantastic. I feel giddy and think of her all the time. In a word (okay, two): I’m smitten.

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Rosie, trying to size up beautiful Hazel from 10,617 miles away.

Rosie, however, doesn’t seem as smitten. She hasn’t said so directly, but I can tell because when Hazel and I chat on the computer, Rosie gives me the side eye and pouts. They’re the kinds of looks she doesn’t give me when I’m doing anything else on the computer (like, say, writing, or talking to a friend). Just when I’m talking to Hazel. It’s as if she knows my feelings for Hazel are overflowing and is afraid that means there will be fewer left over for her. Rosie is, quite simply, jealous of someone she can’t even see.

So, this morning, Hazel and I set up a FaceTime chat with Rosie so they could see each other and “meet” to break the ice.

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Rosie and I working on our FaceTime etiquette.

“Rosie, hello. Rosie? Good morning,” Hazel said in her sweet English accent.

Rosie was curled up on the bed in a ball, next to a giant pillow, side-eyeing this complete stranger, as if to say who the fuck are you and when are you going to give me my mommy back!?

I tried to reassure the dog.

“Rosie, this is Hazel, can you say hi? Look! Look at the screen! See how nice she is? And pretty? She likes you. I bet she’ll even bring you a toy when she meets you.”

I can’t think of a better way to ease an animal into getting to know a new person in my life than by dating them long distance. I figure by the time Hazel and I meet, Rosie will know her face and her voice, at least.

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In Stephen King’s “Cujo” (1981), a rabid dog terrorizes an unsuspecting woman and her son.

Things with Hazel feel really positive, and I’m sure Rosie will come around. But I have nightmares of the movie Cujo with Hazel stuck in a car, doors locked, Rosie starring as the rabid dog on a murderous rampage, unable to control herself. (Of course, we all know this would only happen if Hazel brought Rosie a toy that she really didn’t like.)

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My little Cujo

Hazel and I talk about the future in positive but pretty loose terms at this point. We haven’t been talking to each other that long, but still, the “what-ifs” are already falling off our tongues during lazy, long morning and late-night conversations. What if our feelings grow even deeper? Who’s going to visit whom first and what happens to Rosie during our adventures? (Answer: in the event of a long visit down under, Rosie will have to be quarantined for 21 days. The thought makes me nauseous, but no point thinking about that now.) What about Hazel moving to New York City? There are complications, just as there are complications the other way around. Right now, it’s day by day and it’s lovely.

And there’s absolutely no reason to not have Rosie renew her passport … just in case.

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Have passport, will travel.

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Yes, I Talk to Rosie Like She’s Human. She Talks Back. And no, I’m Not Schizophrenic

I said to someone once, and I can’t remember who: “I have some of the best talks with Rosie that I have with anyone.”

“That’s okay,” the person responded, “as long as she doesn’t talk back.”

Well guess what? In my head, she does. And as far as I know, I’m not schizophrenic.

I’m certain I’m not alone; tons of people talk to their dogs. It’s the extent to which I talk to Rosie that I find kind of funny.

Yesterday, we were walking up 22nd Street and a woman walking her Rhodesian Ridgeback approached us. Rosie pulled on the leash and made a beeline for the dog, tail wagging like a manic metronome. The owner, an eccentric looking woman, quickly crossed the street with her dog, as many people do when they either have a dog that’s not friendly, are in a hurry to get its “business” done, or simply don’t feel like interacting.

As this woman crossed to the other side of the street, Rosie looked up at me, rejected and seemingly crushed.

“Next time, Rosie.” I told her. And making sure we were a safe distance from the woman and her Ridgeback (and anyone else), I added: “That lady was probably a bitch anyway who had no life. We’re better off not having met her. Let her go home to her empty house and empty life with no friends and wallow in her despair.”

Rosie stared at me, and I wondered what she was thinking. It was one of two things: “Lady, you’re fucking bonkers” (likely), or, “Yeah! I’m glad we didn’t meet her! She didn’t have a life!” (Not as likely.)

Then there have been those times when people have “caught” me talking to Rosie on our walks. I generally don’t care, but I don’t want to be known as the crazy in the neighborhood (come to think of it, I probably already am).

It’s usually the little things I say often that people hear — the less extreme, off-the-wall things, like, “Rosie, good walking!” (when she’s not pulling on the leash). Or, “Good job! Do you want a little piece of chicken jerky?” as a reward for putting something down she has picked up off the street. Or, “let’s go home,” or “get busy” if she’s dallying and taking too much time to pee. (Although once on a very cold day, someone did catch me saying, “Rosie, will you please hurry up and shit so we can go inside?”)

Then, the crazy rears its head again and things like “leave it” turn into “Rosie, don’t eat that feces, it’ll give you a parasite, we’ll have to go see Dr. Farber, he’ll diagnose you with Giardia and have to put you on Metronidazole.” Or “Rosie, do you want to go to Chula’s and play later after you eat your pancaketh?” (That’s pancakes said with a lisp. Translation: breakfast.)

Generally, our two-way conversations go something like this. We may come in from a walk and I might say,” “Rosie, would you like a piece of freeze-dried liver, a Greenie, a piece of chicken jerky, or a cheese treat?”

Rosie’s Bath time (in the sink)

“I had a Greenie after breakfast,” I imagine as she looks up at me with her doe eyes. “So I think a liver treat.”

Or, it could go like this:

“Hey Rose, it’s time to brush your teeth.”

“No.”

“We have to or you’ll get plaque and then they’ll have to give you anesthesia and that could be dangerous because you have a heart murmur.”

“I’m still not brushing, so I think instead I’ll go curl up in a little ball on my bed and avoid you altogether.”

Sometimes she gets feisty.

“Rosie, it’s bath time.”

Nietzsche

“Sure it is.”

“No, really — it is.”

“Mom, maybe it’s your bath time.”

“Rosie? Don’t get fresh.”

Our deeper conversations can be on all sorts of topics. We usually get deep on Friday nights. We talk about music, art, film, and philosophy. The other day we talked about Nietzsche.

“God is dead, mom,” Rosie quipped.

“I know, I know, Rosie. I know.”

Rosie is a Tween Now. Enough With the Baby Talk.

So, Rosie had her second birthday on January 18th. I don’t actually know if it is her “real” birthday, but it was one year after the day the shelter picked her up off the L.A. streets and estimated her age to be one. As a dog parent, it’s always hard to figure out which occasion to celebrate: the actual birthday? The foster anniversary? The adoption anniversary? Or what? For the sake of not driving myself crazy, I picked her “birthday”.

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Rosie on her birthday with her “cake”.

We all know that a pet’s age in people years is their chronological age multiplied times seven. So with that logic, Rosie is 14. A tween. She’s not a baby anymore. She uses emoji, watches Jane the Virgin, and listens to Drake (because the Biebs is so “last year”).

So please riddle me this: why do people talk to her like she’s a baby? She’s so beyond the cootchie cootchie coo language (as in, “Rosie, fetch!”) and now understands adult commands like “Rosie, would you kindly bring me my crack pipe?”

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Rosie’s Chelsea digs.

There’s a doorman in my building who talks to Rosie in this Muppet-like voice when I take her out at 5:00am — he says things like, “Heyyyy Rosie, girl, did you sleep with mommy last night? Are you going for your walky? (He really just puts a Y at the end of everything.) After your walky will you have some brekky? (No, he’s not Australian.) Will you make poopy for mommy like a good girl?”

I never know how to respond to him — but he looks at me like I’m supposed to throw my voice like a ventriloquist and talk back to him through Rosie. “Yes, sir, I am going to eat my brekky and make poopy for mommy like a good little girl.” Hell if I’m doing that.

I don’t usually respond at all; I’m usually too groggy (remember: 5:00am). Then I feel kind of guilty — the guy is totally nice and means well. He’s just irritating as all fuck.

He also does this other thing — where he calls Rosie “bicoastal” (ok, kind of cute/clever) and imagines that she’s a little surfer girl who hates the East coast and the weather here. Points for imagination…. but still… 5:00am.

“Hey, little surfer girl, you’re not gonna like the weather outside, surfer girl — it’s rainy wainy — bet you’d rather be at the beach with the sand between your toes catching some rays.” Oh-kayyyyy…..

I know I’m probably just super irritable (you think?), but I may start getting up at 7:00am when this dude’s shift is over. What do you think?

On Dogs, Depression, and Rickie Lee Jones

I used to have a dog named Domini when I was a child who licked my face every time I cried. When I was home sick from school, she’d lie at the end of the bed and keep watch until I was better. She was so sensitive that when she went into heat she would take all of the stuffed animals off of my bed, arrange them in a circle, plop down in the middle of the circle, and tend to each one with kisses and licks. She was an extraordinary animal.

I thought all dogs expressed sadness and glee and pain and sensitivity and emotions in the same way Domini did, so when I got Rosie, I was pretty sure I knew what to expect. The first time I cried with her was the day I adopted her, and they were tears of joy. I pulled her onto my lap and held her tight. She looked at me for a second, and then she jumped off. Wait, what? Where were my licks and kisses? Aren’t all dogs the same? In my naiveté, I thought so.

I’ve come to the conclusion over the past few months — as I’ve been battling a pretty brutal depression — that Rosie doesn’t express empathy through licks; she worries and takes on aspects and qualities of my mood, like a sponge. She’s a worrier. When I’m depressed, she gets depressed, too. She doesn’t look me in the eye, and she sleeps with her back to me (if she sleeps with me at all). Which makes me feel fucking horrible and awful and like a bad mother.

But Rosie’s really the best reason I’ve had these days to get myself well — she’s forced me to turn my focus outward because I have to take care of her. I can’t bear to see her unhappy. Just as I’m sure she can’t bear to see me depressed.

Fiona, my wise friend, said, “When you feel better, so will she.” The anti-depressants have just begun to kick in and I swear Rosie has that little smile on her face again, because so do I.

I did this experiment the other night because I wanted to see what kind of music — voices, pitches, sounds, instruments — were appealing to Rosie’s ears. The winner, hands down? And wouldn’t you know it — my favorite: Rickie Lee Jones. Often not the most uplifting, sometimes sings songs my mother and I dub “wrist-slashers”. I put on the song “On Saturday Afternoons in 1963” from her debut album as well as the more upbeat, later-career track “Jimmy Choos”. And the dog was fucking mesmerized. At first, she stretched out her paws as if to get settled. Then she lay still, eyes darting back and forth, as if taking it all in. When Jones went up to the higher registers, Rosie shut her eyes, and opened them when the higher part was over. I swear, I may have been reading into it – but it was truly amazing to watch. And beautiful. And no, she did not slash her paw when it was all over. She just seemed relaxed and “in a zone.”

Rickie Lee Jones

Other music/sounds Rosie seems to like: Kraftwerk, Jimmy Somerville, and Justin Timberlake. But she doesn’t seem to enjoy Katy Perry. Today I’ll try some classical and see if she can distinguish between composers. (Yes, I’m nuts.)

Oh, one more thing: the other day I Googled: “How do you know if you’re obsessed with your dog?” And it said, “One: you constantly worry about their feelings.” And “Two: you Google things like ‘How do you know if you’re obsessed with your dog?'”

Rosie’s First Love

We’ve all had ’em. The ones that keep us up at night, the ones that make us sweat and shake and obsess and see stars.

Well, dogs are no different. And Rosie’s fallen in love with her handsome Italian babysitter/trainer Manuel.

Rosie and loverboy.

When she comes back from staying with him, she cries for hours, won’t eat, and looks at me as if to say: “Who are you and what did you do with my boyfriend?”

When the phone rings, she does a manic dance — as if she’s thinking, THAT MUST BE HIM, HE’S COMING TO RUN AWAY WITH ME!

And god forbid there should be a knock at the door… she has lovesick seizures. And the poor Chinese delivery man doesn’t know whether to get me to sign for my scallion pancakes or call doggy 911.

Click here and you’ll totally see how she flirts with the love of her young life.