In Memoriam: Baci

This week we had to say good-bye to our faithful friend and true member of the family, "the ill-behaved fix terrier" who appears in my author bio. Rather than talk about her loss, I thought I'd repeat an earlier post celebrating her presence in our lives. We'll miss you, girl.

I am not a dog person. I never was. As a child I was deathly afraid of them, and I dragged my feet for years when my boys begged for one. When the last kid was finally toilet trained, I had run out of excuses. (I had stipulated that I would not be cleaning up dog poop and the human variety. At which point my then four year-old handed me his pack of Pull-Ups, declaring he no longer had need of them.)

 Because I detest dog hair and one of my sons has asthma, we looked for a non-shedding breed. The day we went puppy shopping, I had my eye on a quiet little gray schnauzer. My boys had other ideas. The minute we opened her crate, our future dog, a wire-haired fox terrier, bounded out to meet us by grabbing my son’s shoelace in her little puppy teeth and dancing around his feet.

“That’s our dog!” my youngest exclaimed.

I eyed her dubiously. “She seems a little crazy.”

Avoiding a direct response, my husband said, “Look, she’s the same breed as Asta. You love the Thin Man movies. Don’t you want your own little Asta?”

So I caved like a house of cards.

And she was—and still is, even thirteen years later— completely and utterly precious. Primarily white, she has black and brown markings, luminous brown eyes, and a perfect little nose that appears to be made out of black licorice. She was so affectionate the day we met her, we named her “Baci,” which is Italian for “kisses.”

 Baci cropped

And then reality set in. She was hideously difficult to train, and still goes in the house when the mood strikes her. Because she jumps and barks so much, she upsets her stomach to the point of vomiting; her favorite spot for this activity is behind my kitchen table. And no matter how many times I scrub that floor, on a warm day when the windows are open and the wind is just right, the faint odor of dog vomit still wafts across my kitchen. She nips at people’s ankles and goes berserk when the doorbell rings. The day after I spent a fortune on a DKNY coverlet and shams, she made her way into my room and left her “mark” (read dog pee) on it. I have had to replace bedding, rugs, people’s torn clothing, and the odd French door. And despite frequent grooming, she still ends up smelling like an old sock.

There were moments I fervently wished she would run away and never come back. And yet, after a recent scare when we thought she had doggie cancer, I cried for two days. It turned out to be a highly curable (and very expensive) infection.

My boys and my husband adore her. And truth be told, so do I. I look into those big brown eyes and see a kind of love. I like to believe it’s directed at me, and not the toast crusts I drop at her feet every morning.