Scrappy Mon, Aug 21. 2006
We decided to have a laboratory do a post mortem exam, and later that day, they called to inform us that Scrappy had a number of cancerous growths on his liver and pancreas. One of them had ruptured, and according to the lab, although it was a sudden upredictable event, it nevertheless was inevitable. They assured us that there was nothing we or they could have done, and that he wouldn't have suffered much.
We bought Scrappy from a Pomeranian breeder located in Riverside county, which is east of Los Angeles. We'd recently moved to an apartment in West Hollywood, and wanted a companion to keep Gizmo company during the days while we were at work. Tracy had spoken to a breeder over the phone and negotiated a deal for a Pomeranian puppy who they hadn't been able to sell and was now too big. My recollection is that he was already five or six months old, but perhaps a bit younger. It was a friday after work, and we jumped into Tracy's old VW rabbit, and headed out on what would turn out to be a two hour soujourn which included our getting lost, driving up and down lightless suburban streets, and giving serious consideration to turning around and heading home. At the end of a dead end street, I finally pullled the car over and got out. The address seemed to be in the vacinity of the one we were searching for, but we were expecting a ranch or warehouse rather than the rows of tract houses. We couldn't find a street number. Then I picked up the faint sound of dogs yapping. I followed it to the garage of a house and rang the doorbell. An elderly woman answered the door holding a tiny white pom in her hands.
The elderly woman was prepared for the worst. She said that she was happy to keep him, and wouldn't want to sell him to someone who didn't want him. She was surprised when I announced we would take him after all. We put him in a towel, and once the car started, he quickly went to sleep. He never seemed to outgrow car sickness, and taking him anywhere almost always involved him throwing up at some point, but on that day he slept the entire way. When we got home we brought him inside to meet Gizmo. We were well aware of Gizmo's capacity for cruetly to interlopers, as he'd bullied a puppy owned by a friend unmercilessly on a trip we'd made to Santa Barbara, and that wasn't even his house. I held Scrappy and Gizmo approached him growling with each menacing step. Unlike the puppy, when Giz was close enough, Scraps summoned every ounce of his tiny frame, and thrust himself forwards letting out a pronounced "Ruff" that clearly indicated: "I'm not taking any of your crap buddy." Tracy and I looked at each other and began to laugh. It was clear that this little black fellow wasn't going to give any ground. We had to keep them seperated the entire night. The next morning I gave him his wholly unoriginal but very fitting name.
Tracy gave him a bath, and when he still smelled, gave him another. After several of these, she dried him and something amazing happened. His hair puffed out around his head, and it was like we had a new dog. He was actually sort of cute, and while his looks may have defied our expectations, he more than made up for this with his personality. Scrappy was a joyful exuberant dog and had a way of engaging people that made him a lot of friends over the years. When he got excited he would hop onto his back legs and jump around, waving his forepaws rapidly in a circular motion. It amazed us how long he would stay bipedal. He was able to leap several feet in the air, and displayed a houdini like capacity for escape. We bought a plastic toddlers gate for the kitchen and would put the dogs behind it to keep them contained during the day. We arrived home to find Gizmo perplexed as Scrappy caroused around the living room. A closer inspection showed that Scraps had chewed enough of the plastic meshing to allow him to squeeze through. We bought a wooden gate to replace it. A few days later, again we returned to find scrappy outside. We realized that he was simply able to jump over it. I bought a second gate that I would place above the first one. Several weeks went by, and again we found Scrappy at the window. He had pawed the upper gate enough to squeeze through. Eventually we gave up. He'd start in the kitchen and at some point would make it over and spend the rest of the day looking out the window. He had a penchant for lying flat on his belly with his legs flayed behind him, and would fall asleep in a sunny spot, which I referred to as "baking himself." His fur would be hot to the touch. My brother came for a visit, and at some point began to refer to Scraps as "the mongoose." He was eccentric and full of mischevious surprises, which annoyed and at the same time amused us.
One day he made his way into the bedroom and found my wallet with all my ID and credit cards on a table. He chewed the wallet and most of its contents to bits. I was due to take a business trip two days later, and asked Tracy to call Amex and order me a replacement card and have them fedex it. In those days fedex would use the mail slot in our door for small items and envelopes. When Tracy got home, she found Scrappy out of his pen. The envelope and the replacement credit card were in small pieces on the floor.
In those days I used to walk Gizmo past a house with two notoriously angry dogs who defended their yard from anyone who happened by. Most people crossed the street rather than pass by the snarling and gnashing of teeth. One day I was walking Gizmo and Scrappy, and Scrappy seeing the dogs made a beeline and disappeared into their yard through a gate. I panicked and immediately tried to pull him back through but the leash had caught on the post. I was about to scale the fence when I noticed scrappy on his hind legs waving furiously at the Collie. Both the dogs barrelled in, and in a moment, they adopted him on the spot. The bigger dog, rolled on his side and let scrappy jump on his back, while the Collie licked him and nuzzled him. After a few minutes I talked Scrappy into returning and was able to extract him back through the fence. From that day forward, Gizmo and Scrappy were the only beings: dogs or human, I ever saw welcomed on that stretch of the street, and they seemed overjoyed each day when we would stop by on our daily walk. Scrappy would stand up and the dogs would lick both he and Gizmo through the fence. It might sound silly but Scrappy seemed to have that type of effect on people and other dogs.
Marion visited us for her holiday, hoping to soak up some sun at our apartment complex pool. Scrappy began a campaign of torment that drove her to the brink of endurance. Not being much of a dog person, she was genuinely scared of him, which seemed to delight him. He was constantly in her suitcase, and would jump out at her at every moment. Once she was out at the pool, he would invariably find his way out the door, and would immediately run through the fence and would begin to root through other people's towels and bags. People would demand that Marion retrieve him. More often than not he'd escape out through the garage and make his way onto the street causing Marion to have to go outside and bring him back. In those days he was not easy to catch. More than once he managed to get out the door if we didn't latch it tightly, and one day a neighbor returned him to us, having found him running down the street over five blocks away. He fell in love with the cats next door and managed to get inside multiple times to play with them. Luckily they seemed to like him too, and the neighbor simply brought him back to us. Unlike Gizmo, Scrappy developed a set of big dog choppers that looked very imposing for such a small dog, and he chewed his way through an astonishing variety of things including a plugged in lamp. During Marion's stay he chewed the clasp off her bikini top, and chewed the frame of her prescription eye glasses until they broke in two.
Once we bought our first house, Marion made a return trip with her boyfriend Shea, and agreed to dog sit for us for a night while we attended a wedding in San Francisco. They attempted to sleep in the guest bedroom, and we'd warned them that Gizmo and Scrappy had to be kept in the bedroom with them. In the middle of the night they were awoken by the routine ruckus caused by Gizmo, who never wanted Scrappy to be allowed on the bed. They seperated them, and Scrappy jumped off onto the floor. Some time later, they heard the sound of rustling, and turned on the light to find Scrappy attempting to tear a pair of Shea's underwear. The underwear was retrieved and put into a suitcase. The light went off. A short time later the rustling resumed. The light were turned on, and again scrappy was shaking the same pair of underwear. He'd unzipped the suitcase with his teeth. They eventually put Scrappy outside, and he proceeded to torment them for the rest of the night, barking out the windows at squirrels and denying them any sleep. Although it has been many years since this occurred, Shea insists he will never return to Los Angeles, thanks in no small part to the experience.
Those who could see their way past these types of routine occurrences, often found themselves charmed by his resilient spirit, and eagerness to please. Although he was my dog more than anyone elses, he made himself quite a few fans along the way, many who were amused and charmed by him. My mother still recalls the time he stayed with her for several months, while we moved to Marin county. He escaped outside one night and toyed with her, as she frantically tried to retrieve him, remaining just far enough that she could see him before disappearing into the woods.. It was only after she'd given up in tears, that he returned, having determined the game was now clearly over. Only a week before he died, I had him with me on the floor, wrestling, and jumping on and off of me in the same way we'd played countless times before. I find myself looking for him in his favorite nooks around the house, and surprised not to find him at his gate when I return home at night --- the same gate he used to sit behind for hours on end, surveying the world and sounding the alarm whenever interlopers came too close. I miss him more than words can express.
#1 - MOM 2006-08-21 13:28 -
A BEAUTIFUL TRIBUTE TO A LITTLE BLACK DOG WHO CERTAINLY LIVED UP TO HIS NAME. I ALSO MISS HIM KNOWING HIS MISHIEVIOUS, LOVEABLE HABITS. MAY HE BE HAPPY IN HIS NEW HOME WITH GIZMO AND PENNY. I'M SURE HE IS KEEPING THE LORD ON HIS TOES.