Wednesday, July 2, 2008

r.i.p. scrunchy,

[I will preface this by saying that I've decided not to share the gory details of Scrunchy's last hours that I unfortunately witnessed in the middle of the night of June 15, which incidentally happened to be both Father's Day and my parents' 33rd wedding anniversary. Instead I'm going to focus on what an awesome dog she was.]

I've pretty much always believed I was a dog in some past life. My first word, as the story goes, was: Dog-gie, as my mom pushed me down the pet food aisle in a grocery cart. At the time, my parents had a pug, who they rescued as an adult dog (age 4) from an abusive home. Her name was Bridget, and although she was pretty skittish around most people, she loved me and let me jump all over her.

Unfortunately, after getting hit by a car once and getting burned by a tailpipe a different time, going blind, and bleeding all over the house, she had to be put to sleep when she was 12.

Before pugs were trendy, our family got a pug. I still vividly remember the day Scrunchy entered our lives. It was November of 1993, a few weeks before my 11th birthday. I was in fifth grade and just starting to need help with my math homework. My dad diligently worked with me every night, but this night, instead of sitting in our usual seats at the kitchen table, he suggested we move into the living room and work on solving algebra on the couch. When a pair of headlights turned into our cul-de-sac, I didn't think anything of it. Then the doorbell rang. I ran behind my dad to the door, and I'm not sure I've ever been so successfully and awesomely surprised as I was in that moment. Staring back at me was a tiny pug puppy in the arms of a man. For awhile we chased her around calling her "Puppy" because no one could think of a good name. Then one day my dad suggested Scrunchy. He still to this day claims that had he known a scrunchie was an actual object, he would have never named her that. But she lived up to her name and "scrunched" her way into everyone's hearts.

For a brief moment in time, I shot up the popularity scale because Nick's family, who lived in the neighborhood, wanted to get a pug. And they did the following summer. He brought Tessa over on his skateboard with Blake, who had always been one of the most popular boys. It was the only time I hung out with Blake in my life (both before and after), even though I'd known him since kindergarten (he never forgave me for missing a day of kindergarten to go to the Bozo Show and forever had a blimp-sized ego).

Nick and I didn't really talk again until senior year of high school when we had a creative writing class together. I asked him to the turn-about dance and he brought over Tessa. Both she and Scrunch ended up in our pictures.

I texted Nick, who now lives in Hawaii, to give him the bad news about Scrunch and he responded, "So did Tessa a few weeks back." I hope the saying's true that All Dogs Go To Heaven and that the two of them have been reunited in the afterlife.

Scrunchy represented a time when everyone got along and the world was a simple place. The only thing that's remained constant is that Scrunch remained everyone's favorite, everyone's go-to "person." Dogs are so much better than people, "man's" best friend. They are loyal and trusting and never stab you in the back or stop loving you.
So in honor of the best dog ever, here are some favorite memories and favorite photographs from the past 15 years...
*She had nicer things than me: a Liz Claiborne collar with a Jewish star charm
*Every three years since I was born, my dad insisted we take a professional family portrait, so that my sister, who is three years younger than me, is the same age as I was in the one before. In the first photo, it's my mom, dad, me and Bridget. Ever since Scrunch came into our lives, she's been in every photo since (i think 5 total). Here's the most recent taken last December.

*We taught her Yiddish. For instance, instead of teaching her "paw," we taught her "Good Shabbas"
*Most people would describe a docile creature as he/she "wouldn't hurt a fly." Well, in Scrunchy's case that's the only thing she ever did hurt. Whenever there was a fly buzzing against the back glass sliding door, it'd drive her crazy and she'd stand on her hind legs and smash the flying bug with her paw. Then she'd eat it. She was more tolerant of other insects, though, as can be seen by one of my all-time favorite pictures. I took in an injured monarch butterfly, who I named Grace. Even Scrunchy was captivated by her beauty.

*She's appeared in two page-a-day calendars dedicated to dogs. Here's one of the photos. The other showed her wearing a hot pink feather boa.

*When my uncle died in October of 2000 it was like she knew what happened and kept me company while I sat at home alone, crying. She curled up with me and licked my tears.
*Some of my friends nicknamed her "Bojangles" and tried to get her drunk on New Years Eve of '00/'01 when I threw a party while my parents were out of town...that is until I found out and banned them from being near her the rest of the evening.
*She would always try and run away every time the door opened, causing us to run all over the neighborhood yelling her name. One time when we spent New Years Eve at a family friends' house in Glenview, we thought we lost her for good.
*She loved chewing playing cards, make-up, pens, hair...
*When the dog named Brandy, who lived in the house whose backyard backed up to ours with a fence between, died, Scrunch cried every time someone said her name. It's like she knew she would never run back and forth along the fence with her again. Luckily she went deaf by the time Holly (my best friend's dog who was Scrunchy's best friend) died last December, otherwise she may have gone into a depression.
*She was so stubborn when I'd try and take her on walks and I'd usually get jerked backwards when she'd give up and sit down in the middle of a crosswalk. More times than not, I ended up carrying her the remainder of our "walk."
*Every time someone opened the dishwasher and the dishes were dirty, she'd jump onto the door and lick as much as she could before someone closed it again. Also, she loved to try and get whatever food was closest to the edge of the table when we'd eat meals because she could just reach the table top with the nails of her front paws. Although, we'd try and tell her "No!" she never stopped and eventually it became adorable to see her smushed face peeping over.

*She loved sitting on my mom's lap every morning while she drank her coffee and licking my dad's sweaty legs whenever he finished exercising on his stationary bike.

[the above picture was taken on Scrunchy's last night]
*She had a security "blanket" we called her powder puff, which she would run and retrieve any time anyone entered the house. She was such a good little greeter. Over the years the toy lost its puff, but she still carried it wherever she went, and on her final night I got it for her since she didn't have enough strength to get it herself, which is when the below picture was taken.

Here are some more of my favorite photos...

[scrunching her way into Jenny's text book]

[one of my favorite pictures-and it wasn't even posed]

[cracking up with her sisters at the annual pug party]

[the above two pictures are two pictures from my first-ever black&white roll of Bubby is in the background of the first one]

[my dad took this a few years ago when we fell asleep together on my bed]

[a picture i took in my first darkroom photo class senior year of high school. my friend, pat, did all the stuff around the photo]

[one of my favorite hilarious photos...this was taken after Carrie and I came back to my house at 4 a.m. after prom and immediately hit up the ice cream and cheesecake. Clearly, Scrunch thought she was going to join in the food fest.]

[my favorite self-portrait]

We went out for dinner the night of the 15th to celebrate Father's Day and their anniversary. My dad insisted we all get an alcoholic beverage and then proceeded to toast the dog--To our pet, our friend, our sister, our daughter, you were a great dog. We all clinked glasses and said, "Cheers."

For more pictures of Scrunch since I got a digital camera two years ago, click HERE