Homefront: The glories of dog ownership
April 27, 2008
Today’s column begins with a welcome to my new readers who get a weekly dose of Homefront every time they pick up the Fort Belvoir Eagle. I’m happy to have my column published in another newspaper that serves a military community.
There is only one way to introduce my family to new readers, and that is to begin with its most interesting member, Glory. She is the real star of Homefront, and the only Zich to receive fan mail on a regular basis.
Since we adopted her from the San Diego Border Collie Rescue five years ago, Glory has eaten her way into our hearts and introduced us to the sport of counter surfing.
When I read that counter surfing was one of her bad habits, I thought it was some dog trick for Southern California dogs. In reality, it was the rescue agency’s way of warning us that our extra-large pup liked to stand on her back legs and help herself to any food left on the kitchen counters.
Within three weeks of joining our family, Glory had regained the weight she lost while having to share kibble with five other homeless dogs. Unfortunately, she continued to eat anything that wasn’t behind a closed door, including the cowboy hat Tommy received on his eighth birthday.
One sunny day (like every day in Southern California), she got into Ron’s fishing bait and gobbled down some very strong garlic-scented fish attractant called Kickin’ Bass. Fifteen minutes later, we were fleeing the house after she covered our carpets with garlicky vomit.
Glory ate enough stuff that was digestible to be declared overweight by the time we moved to Pennsylvania the following year.
The local veterinarian put her on the famous green bean diet. After describing the plan to readers, I received letters and pictures from dog owners whose pets had become so fit that they had tried the diet, too, with much success.
Glory, however, would only eat her green beans if I sprinkled them with shredded cheese.
I realize I am a big part of the problem when it comes to her chubbiness.
It’s just so hard to resist those pleading brown eyes that follow me around every time there is food in my hands.
Like most military pets, Glory has her own way of handling the stress of moving into a new home. It’s gross.
Before the moving trucks have left, Glory will sniff out every corner of her new living space until she finds the perfect spot to leave her first poo. Then she curls up somewhere and sleeps off the stress of having to move again.
She will wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to escape from her new backyard. Glory has to make sure the local dogs know there’s a big, loud, bossy new gal on the block.
It has taken two fences, one invisible and one real, to keep her from roaming our neighborhood in Virginia. The new neighbors were familiar with “that big, black and white dog” long before the rest of us got to know anyone.
A recent news story described how a dog was rescued from a war zone in Iraq and flown into Washington, D.C., to become someone’s new pet.
“Wouldn’t it be nice,” I thought, “If Glory Zich, international media superdog, were there to welcome that poor little guy into our country.”
But I knew it was an impossible dream. Glory provides plenty of stories for me to entertain readers with, but she would not be a good canine ambassador.
The problem is, when she meets other dogs, she tries to start a fight. What kind of welcome would that be for a war-weary pooch?
I’m happy to keep my oversized pet away from the limelight and by my side while I describe our misadventures at various duty stations.
We were loud and messy before Glory moved in; now we just have someone else to share the blame. I think our counter-cruising California dog is a perfect fit for our family … every ounce of her.
A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 17 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at email@example.com or find the Zichs online at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.