A Dog Named Fifi

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
My dog Fifi always behaved, except for that ear....

Submitted: May 14, 2008

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Submitted: May 14, 2008



My malt shop buddy Denise received a dog for her birthday. He was either Peppy or Pep I was never sure.I wanted a dog, too, and I didn’t want to wait until my birthday.In late April, 1962, Daddy spotted a classified ad for toy poodles in a Sunday issue of the Duluth New Tribune. Mom had heard that poodles were presumably clean, smart animals that didn’t shed.Daddy made a long distance phone call to the number in the newspaper ad.That same week my parents traveled to Ashland, Wisconsin, about sixty miles east of Duluth (nearly 250 miles round-trip) to buy a dog.
It was a school night and my parents wouldn’t return until after my bedtime.I had dinner with my friend Susie’s family.Afterwards, although I was only eleven, I went home, watched some TV, brushed my teeth and climbed into bed.(I suppose my parents trusted me because I hadn’t done anything dangerously stupid since I was four when I stuck my tongue on the freezer section of the farm kitchen’s refrigerator.) I heard my parents come home as if it were happening far, far away. With the day’s light, however, I sprang awake, one word chimed in my brain: puppy. I crept to the laundry room.A Samsonite card table, bought with King Korn stamps we’d earned from buying groceries, stood upright on one side.Its steel legs still folded, the flat panel separated the doorway between the laundry room and the kitchen.Beyond the partition, next to the water heater, I saw a small curly rug that hadn’t been there before.It was white and oval and it fluttered ever so slightly.I named her Fifi.
Fifi was sold at a discount because of her right ear.Not only was it streaked with apricot, it was unruly.The breeder had fastened a strip of tape across the ear to train it to lie down as a proper poodle’s ear should.At first we kept the ear taped down, but as soon as we’d remove the tape the ear would pop up like a terrier’s.The ear reminded Mom of my bangs which challenged her patience whenever she trimmed them.Mom would wet the bangs, then snip across my forehead one side to the other.Many grade school pictures show my bangs unbecomingly short and crooked. Despite liberal doses of Ducharme hair cre, they popped up, asymmetrically disobedient, just like the puppy’s ear. After a few weeks with Fifi, Mom decided we were just wasting tape.We loved our curly puppy despite her flawed beauty.
On the farm, okay, dogs were work animals.They slept in a barn or maybe outside in a doghouse.But we lived in town.And I had read many books where dogs were allowed to sleep in a bedroom.They slept either at the foot of the bed or in their own bed in the corner of your room.My mom must not have been familiar with these books. Just like Karen’s dog Boots, Fifi slept in the laundry room and was not allowed in the bedrooms.She was only admitted to the living room with permission.
When Mom was home Fifi’s ear was the only part of her that did not obey. She’d lie with her nose on the metal carpet strip which divided the kitchen from the living room and wait for an invitation.When Mom wasn’t home Fifi understood that rules relaxed.She’d inch forward past the metal strip between the kitchen and the living room, her body on the linoleum and her head on carpet.When Daddy and I didn’t object, she’d slide forward until her whole body was across the border. After allowing us ample time to command retreat, she would rise, stroll across the carpet to sit at Daddy’s feet and wait.After a few moments, without a word and without taking his eyes off the TV, Daddy would scoop Fifi up and place her on his lap.And they sat that way until Fifi heard Mom’s hand on the kitchen door.

© Copyright 2018 Leni Willson. All rights reserved.

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