One of the things helping me survive this brutally cold Midwest winter is my dog blanket. By that, I mean our 40-lb "lap dog", a mutt named Schatzi. In that golden period when we unwind after running around all day, Senior and I wait to see which one of us will be the lucky one to wear the dog blanket. Schatzi will charm her way in-between us, regardless of how close we may be sitting together on the couch. She'll turn in a circle a couple times and then flop down on one of our laps. You know you are truly the chosen one if she gives a huge doggy-breath sigh and melts into a lap puddle. I often win the prize because a) her arch-enemy, the cat, has lately decided that Senior’s stomach is the perfect place to make kitty bread [cat lovers know what I mean] and b) I usually have snacks.
We got Schatzi as a puppy in the dog days of summer, just before The Girl went off to college. The Boy was feeling lonely at the thought of being an only child when his sister went away, and played the guilt card expertly. We had often talked about getting a dog for our children but with demanding jobs and frequent moves it had never seemed like the right time. One August night while Senior was out of town on a business trip, The Boy talked me into stopping off to see a rescue litter just to pet the puppies. We found a box full of little black pups, six in all, named after the cast of Scooby Doo. The mother was a Labrador-Beagle mix, which kept her on the small side, and the father was a mystery (the vet thinks he was a Boxer). The Boy was in love and secretly so was I. He had picked out a pretty little female with big brown eyes and crazy long ears. I looked at her dainty paws and decided she wouldn’t get too big, and next thing you know (and much to Senior’s dismay) she was on her way home with us.
Her name on the paperwork was Daphne but we thought it sounded too close to Daffy. It took a while to settle on a new name. The Boy and The Girl were inspired by her shiny black coat and her birthdate, 06/06/06, and began calling her “Satan”. I put the kibosh on that pretty quickly, along with their other helpful suggestions “Diablo”, “Lucifer” and “Beelzebub”. We went through a host of standard doggy and people names but nothing seemed to fit. Finally The Boy, who had studied German in his language class at school, came up with “Schatzi”. It’s a term of endearment, something to be treasured - loosely translated to “Sweetie” but sounding a lot more badass.
She quickly acclimated to the family and basically has us wrapped around her paw. Like most spoiled dogs, it only took a few weeks for her to graduate from “absolutely no dogs on the furniture” to “we have to buy a leather couch because the dog hair won’t stick”. She can decimate a squeaky toy in less than 30 seconds. She insists on being walked on the leash twice a day, even if when we're out camping. I find myself talking baby talk to her all the time (WHO’S A BIG SCHWEETIE? YOU ARE!). No trip to the grocery store is complete without picking up a dog treat.
Why am I so ridiculous? It’s true what people say about unconditional love from a dog. Every time I walk in the door she’s waiting, almost vibrating with joy. Sure, owning a dog can be a big pain. Forget the freedom that comes from being empty-nesters because one of us always has to go home and let the dog out. She needs to be walked in the rain and snow. She smells like a wet sock, pees whenever someone comes to visit, and sheds black hair everywhere. And I can’t imagine life without her.