As we get more accustomed to having Elizabeth Reptile as part of our family, more adjustments are being made. I’ve started removing her from her tank for 20 minutes, at least — handling regularly is highly recommended as a way of getting to know and “taming” a Bearded Dragon. Skittles has noticed and radiates concern, mostly over not receiving her fair share of petting. I have found myself stroking two creatures at once, in an effort to reassure our nervous pooch that her place in the hierarchy has not been usurped. If Skittles could communicate in words, maybe this is what she would say: There she goes again. She’s holding the little scaly not-dog and petting it. I see her fingers on its not-furry skin. That should be me getting the cuddles! Maybe if I snuggle up to her legs she’ll pet me instead. I’ll shove my nose into her arm. Notice me. Notice me. Ah! I love it when she rubs the scruff of my neck and scratches around my ears! Put the not-dog back in the big clear box and scratch me with both hands. Put it back. Put it back. Is there room for both of us on your lap, then? The not-dog isn’t really on your lap. It smells funny. Now you smell funny. You smell like not-dog. Is it a squirrel? A naked squirrel? I’ve never seen a naked squirrel. It doesn’t smell like a squirrel. Will it scratch me? Should I taste it? Why won’t it let me sniff its bum? Little naked squirrel, why does my person like to pet you when you have no fur? Where are you going? Why are you climbing onto the back of the couch? Maybe I should go and have a nap. Is she going to lie on the bed, too? I like it when we are both on the comfy bed. No, she is sitting back down on the couch. She’s playing with the not-dog again. I’ll come and curl up next to her. Notice me. Notice me. Sure, I can go outside! See me jumping with excitement! Yes, put me out! Right now! It’s okay if Smallest Person puts me out. It’s cold. My paws are cold. My nails are cold. I don’t like my bum touching the snow. Let me back in. Let me in! Where is the not-dog? Why doesn’t the naked squirrel go outside? Can I lie on your arm, too? I want to — just let me — if you push me off I’ll just stick my nose under your arm like this. Why do you shush me? I just want lovings! I will stand here for as long as you keep petting my head and rubbing under my chin. Yes, and my chest. Let me just roll over so you can get my belly, too. Why did you stop? I’ll stand closer so you can reach. I will be more comfortable for the lovings if I am curled up on the floor by your feet. Why did you stop? Are you okay? Let me sniff your wrist to make sure you’re okay. I will stay for as long as you want me to, so you can keep petting me. Yes, under my chin. What is on my neck? Why are you putting the not-dog on my back? I’m not — I don’t — well, okay, but — this is not normal, you know. I’m going to hold very still but I don’t know for how long. I don’t think the naked squirrel likes it. Why are you aiming your small pocket-box at me? Nope, I don’t like that, I’m going to move away now. Put the not-dog back in its box. Can I play with the not-dog? I see it moving in there. Oh, I see you sitting down. May I lie on your shoulder now? It’s moving again! What’s it doing? I want to sniff it! I’m so confused. I’ll follow you around for a while. I’m hungry. I want a treat. ———- Wow, that became much more poignant than I thought it was going to be. I had been thinking about writing this piece earlier, daydreamed a little about the creative aspect of it, and I honestly didn’t think it would be so wistful and sad. Poor Skittles. I’ll have to take her for a nice long walk tomorrow. Actually, I keep meaning to start nightly dog walks again, or even right after school, and I’ve been postponing that. I’d love to get a pair of cross-country skis of my own so I wouldn’t have to leave her outside of the Complex while I rent a pair — same with snowshoes. It might be possible to pick up a set on sale, now. The nice thing about taking her on the trails is that I can let her off-leash, except when linx have been seen, and it’s much smoother than trying to walk on the streets or sidewalks with their lumpy snow-and-ice bumps. Even after the ploughs have gone by, it’s not always nice for a stroll. I prefer taking her for walks at this time of year, anyway, because there aren’t any mosquitoes or black flies to be irritating. I thought about taking her after my daughter and I got home from skiing, but I was wiped out and chilled and only wanted to be warm and cozy. If the weather is as nice tomorrow as it was today, then we will definitely get out for a jaunt, and maybe I’ll pop into the pet store to see whether they have any doggy booties. See, the other problem with walking her at this time of year is on the frequent periods of -30 or colder, she can’t be outside for more than 5 minutes or she starts lifting a paw in protest because her feet are numb. If she were smaller, I’d get her a doggy jacket, too, but she’s got sufficient fur (and mass) to keep the rest of her warm. Plus, I’ve got a backpack that I can fill with weights to give her a good workout. I am hoping, though, that she gets used to Elizabeth in time, and they become “friends”. I think it’s a good sign that they are so far tolerating each other, and that Skittles seems curious but not aggressive towards her. I’ll know they’ve accepted each other if they actually, voluntarily, cuddle together at some point. But first that requires me lizard-proofing the floor and blocking up any escape-spaces. Hmmm . . .
ADDENDUM: I took Jealous Dog for a nice 20 minute walk. I neglected to put on either leggings under my jeans or my ski pants over top, my thighs froze into cold hard slabs after the first 10 minutes in -17 C that felt like -28, but continuing to stroll vigorously got the blood moving and by the time I got home, I could almost feel my skin again. And Her Majesty (dog, not lizard) is peacefully lounging on the loveseat once more.