Hollie - Memoirs of a senile dog
Hello, my name is Hollie and I am a Shih Tzu. My owner bought me many years ago when I was but a puppy. I am now approaching 18 years of age, and felt it was high time to put my life into print. So, without any further ado, here we go.
My mother was ugly. No other word for it, she was just butt ugly. She had one of those haircuts that made her look the same at both ends; you know the type. The kind that humans say they could stick a broomstick into and make a dust mop out of. Matter of fact, Mom had to move before you knew which end was the front; that's one reason she was called butt ugly. But she was a purebred Shih Tzu and had been bred to another purebred Shih Tzu. Anyway, I had several brothers and sisters. I was always a little timid, maybe even too polite so I usually got only the end of her milk. But it was enough to tide me over until I could be shipped off to somewhere else. I didn't know it at the time, of course. We were all just happy, playful babies who fought and rolled and chased one another all day long, until we collapsed wherever we were to sleep. Oh, how nice it was to cuddle up with your family and just sleep wherever you were.
I was about two months old when this nice person came to my house and looked at all of us. She made a bad face when she saw my mother, but when she saw me, her face broke out in a smile. She was pretty and seemed friendly so I wagged my tail and licked her face. She bought it, and bought me. I saw some money exchange hands and the next thing I knew I was being carried out the door of my home and into a car. I was a little scared to be leaving my family, and cried that first night away from them. But the lady cooed and cuddled with me and kept me in her bed that night, soothing me and making me feel safe.
Excuse me, but I need to go outside for a minute. I'll be right back. (Hollie wanders to the door, trying to convey her needs. After a minute of no response, she wanders throughout the house seeking someone to listen to her. She finds her human in another room and promptly gives the signal for her to go out, a sound somewhere between a whine and a set of words sounding suspiciously like "Ohhhhh Caaarrrrllllll!" Her human smiles and tells her "Let's go outside Hollie!" and she walks Hollie to the door. Fifteen minutes later, Hollie has yet to return. We wait, patiently as she is a very old lady and she deserves our patience. Finally we hear a soft bark at the door, and she is allowed back inside. She walks over to her bowl and drinks heavily for a couple of minutes before she begins grooming herself.She wanders in our direction, stops, and sniffs the air. A slight growl mixed with a whine is emitted by Hollie, and she looks around intently. Finally, we realize: Hollie is blind. She cannot see us, and she has forgotten our scent already. At her age, she reacts just like an elderly human, often forgetting what she was doing one moment to the next. We speak to her in an attempt to bring her back to our conversation.)
Miss Hollie; Miss Hollie. We are here to record your life; do you remember?
Hollie shakes her head for a moment, attempting to retrieve the thread of what we we speaking of before her break.
Oh yes, now I remember. Got a little fuzzy there for a moment. Now, where were we? (She reminds us of a kindly little old lady, slightly batty with age, but always in good spirits.) Oh yes, I remember. My new human. She was so nice to me! She had two delightful children at home, a girl four years of age and a boy just turned two. She had just had another child, another baby boy. We had been born at very nearly the same day, so we grew up together. He was a nice boy, and all of her children treated me well. No tail pulling or tight hugging like I have heard other dogs complain of. Her children were very kind towards me. As I grew, I took some of the mothering duties on so my human could get things done around the house. I would sit and watch over the baby boy, and when another baby girl came along a couple of years later, I watched over her as well. I would go outside and play during the days, and I had a nice warm bed for the cold nights. What a wonderful home I had been given!
A few weeks later, the children awoke early and ran about the house. They gathered in the living room around the pretty tree all covered with lights and pretty things hanging on it. My human begins to pass out presents to them and they tore the pretty paper off and began to shout for joy at the gifts they had received. I became excited and jumped in the middle of the paper and begin grabbing it and shaking my head side to side. Beginning the next year, my human gave me a present each time just for me. She would hand it to me and say "Here you go, Miss Hollie! A present just for you!" I would jump up and down, begging and wagging my tail furiously until she gave it to me. I learned to carefully tear the paper off and would prance about with my new toy or bone or whatever gift I had been given. What a wonderful time of year that is!
(Hollie becomes still and silent, and stares unseeing off into a place we are not privy to. Is she recalling those golden days of her youth, alive with wonderful children to play with? The fetch she would play with the boys and the fun she would have with the girls, watching as they played with their dolls? We cannot know, as she is lost to us for a bit. Finally, she turns towards us and seems surprised yet again to find someone there.)
Oh, excuse me; I drifted off there for a moment. Who are you again?
(We explain ourselves to her once more, and we continue.) Oh yes, those wonderful children. And then there were those cats we had as well. I believe they were something called Himalayan, or something like that. Bonnie Blue and Charlie, I think they were. I remember Bonnie Blue had the strangest sound at times. The first time I heard it, I came running because I thought she was hurt. But I found her standing over a spider crawling across the floor. Heaven knows where it came from, but Bonnie was doing her best to alert our human something was amiss. I barked, helping to send out the alarm. Our human came over, and praised both of us as she got rid of the spider. From that point on, I knew that if I heard that sound, Bonnie had found another of those nasty little spiders.
(From another room, we hear a crinkling sound. Hollie's ears perk up, and her whole persona changes. She becomes alert, and runs off towards the kitchen. Curious, we follow her to find her human standing beside the refrigerator, holding a piece of cheese. Hollie, almost 18 years old in dogs years, and approaching 90 years in the equivalent human years, is standing on her hind legs, pawing in the air and jumping like a circus performer up and down repeatedly. She seems so alive at that moment it is easy to forget her age. She seems more like a puppy than an octogenarian. She is fed a piece of cheese separated into quarters to more easily be consumed. After it is gone, she delightedly licks her chops and turns for a drink. She hesitates, lost for a time as she desperately tries to remember the location of her bowl. She sniffs the ground and finally finds it. Another long drink and she heads back towards the door. This time her human is ready and waiting for her and opens the door immediately. The sun is shining, and Miss Hollie does her business, then settles in a chair with a pillow perched on it just for her afternoon naps in the warm sunshine. I begin to realize the setting down of her memoirs may be a time consuming task, as she has other duties she must perform. We have the time, and we are patient. We will give her her due, and we will be there when she returns from her nap.)