Ricky and his patron saint (Halo courtesy of Carole Fass. What, do you think I know how to do that kind of thing??
Anyone who enters our playroom via the garage between 1 and 2:30 PM will all but trip over an eager, expectant, tail-wagging, door-blocking beagle who has been waiting steadfastly on that very spot for hours. If that anyone is me, or Carol, or Matt, or Greg, the tail will gradually slow down, disappointment will momentarily cloud the dog’s handsome brown-and-white face — and then he’ll resume his vigil at the door. That’s because he’s waiting for one person, and one person only.
Sure, our pup is pampered by every member of our family — Robby does an especially good job of this — but nobody spoils him like Luz Elena, Ricky’s patron saint. According to Luz, nothing is, ever has been, or ever will be that lovely dog’s fault. Luz to Ricky (but intended for our ears): “Oh, Ricky, you peed on Mommy and Daddy’s carpet? That’s because they didn’t play with you enough, did they, you poor puppy.”
Ricky’s been with us for 8 years, and I’ve come to realize that while he’s doted on by everyone in the household, there are only two people who are tuned in to Ricky’s wants and needs 24/7: me . . . and Luz.
I’m constantly aware of what Ricky’s up to — wanting him to have his share of “quality time.” I like to take him on “destination” walks — a drive to a nice local spot — where his day can be “enriched” by sniffing new sniffs and socializing with other dogs. I’m always on top of when he needs to go out, and when he needs his meals and his meds. And of course, as most of you know, I took him on my road trip to California and back, with Ricky riding shotgun the whole way.
But Luz puts even me to shame.
Last Saturday, when Luz came in, she of course asked Carol when Ricky last peed and pooped (a constant topic of conversation in this precinct). Carol reported that he’d done both when she walked him around the yard. A little later, Luz, clearly obsessing, asked for clarification: “So you just walked him around the yard?” Carol nodded. Later still: “So you didn’t take him for a ride in the car?” When Carol said no, Luz gathered Ricky up and together they headed for her Toyota. “His daddy always takes him out for a car ride,” she said, by way of explanation. “I don’t want him to feel bad.”
Yesterday I came into the kitchen and accidentally let the door slam. “Shhhh!” Luz whispered, motioning to Ricky, who was in his crate. “The baby’s sleeping.”
She gives “the baby” his bath on precisely the 15th of every month. I’m not sure what she thinks would happen if she had to be a day late; all I know is she gets frantic at the thought. She lets him hang with her in the kitchen for hours at a time, literally right at her feet, giving him God-knows-what to eat all day long. She makes him a “salad” in the late afternoon, to tide him over till his 5:30 meal.
And I’ll bet money I know what she’s doing tomorrow: her Christmas shopping. For Ricky.