best in show

Monday, October 15, 2007

After visiting my new favorite website,, I felt inspired to share a little cuteness of my own. This is Ella. She is miraculous. She has changed my mom from someone who looks down her nose at “Pet People” into someone who actually buys a Halloween costume for her dog (a witch). My dad used to accept pets as a way to silence his childrens’ incessant begging for pets. And now, you are likely to overhear him having a private one-on-one convo with Ella that sounds like this:

Dad: Are you the dog? Are you MY dog? Are you the Ella-dog?
Ella: --

I don’t know how this happened. Oh, who am I kidding? Ella is an angelic, magical pet with a sweet disposition, bunny-soft hair and disarmingly human expressions. She wins over even the coldest pet-hater. With just one cock of her tiny, adorable head, she manages to tell people:

“I know you aren’t usually that into dogs and I understand. Maybe a dog has wronged you. Maybe you just think dogs are kind of smelly and hairy and pointless. Don’t worry, I get it. But I’m going to melt your face all the same. And you will be irresistible to my charms.”

Everyone loves Ella. Seriously, who wouldn’t? But she’s so much more than just a pretty face and a powerful ability to read minds. What is truly miraculous about Ella is that she represents the downfall of the Hall Family Pet Disaster Empire. Tell me, would YOU give it another go if you had experienced (survived) the following pet debacles?

1. Mitzy, the incontinent poodle.
Mitzy only lasted about two weeks. She left a path of destruction (+ urine and feces) in her wake and left us (the kids) wondering if mom and dad would ever let another dog in the house. We took her back to live with her previous owners, who apparently thought "well behaved and potty trained" meant "bites people and eliminates bowels at random."

2. B.J., the garbage-loving hamster.
B.J. was named after each of my younger brothers. He lived a life fairly typical of the domestic rodent, complete with plastic treadmill and pellet dinner. But, he longed for more. And by “more,” I mean garbage. He escaped his cage and was later found in the bottom of the kitchen garbage can, bloated and filthy… with a tiny hamster smile on his face.

3. Marcie Noreen, the box turtle who never ate a meal.
Marcie Noreen was the name of my neighbor’s Cabbage Patch Kid. Cabbage Patch Kids were a crapshoot, as any child of the 80’s will remember. A popular gift item in the mid-later decade, Cabbage Patch Kids came complete with adoption papers and a pre-chosen name. As such, you could end up with something charming like “Sabrina Amanda” OR you could be saddled (as I was) with the care of “Gerta Dawn.” My next-door neighbor’s Cabbage Patch Kid was Marcie Noreen and I was wildly jealous. It was considered bad taste to rename your CPK (which is to say nothing of renaming with a friend’s doll’s name), so I stole the name for my pet box turtle instead. Eff Gerta Dawn. Who cares about a stupid doll when you have a Real Live Turtle (even if you can’t braid its hair)? You can dress it up in ribbons and have fashion shows! You can watch it saunter across the driveway with a pink bow on! But you can only do that for two weeks because it won’t eat a single meal and it will die while you are at school.

4. Chuckles, the miserable guinea pig who ruined my life.
I’m pretty sure Chuckles was an attempt by my parents to shut me up about wanting a pet after Marcie Noreen passed away. It worked. I hated that thing. Guinea pigs are disgusting creatures. This particular one loved staying up all night, snorting (chuckling) and kicking wood shavings all over my room. I cried and cried until my parents agreed to let me give her back to the pet store. They probably high-fived each other on the way home.

5. Ferdinand, the ball python who sort of lost his novelty and slowly died of neglect.

What can you say about a snake? He once crapped in my pocket while I was holding him. And I didn’t even realize it until an hour later. They say snakes are cold-blooded, but Ferd was quite warm. He was probably the best of the pets… but he wasn’t dramatic. He didn’t demand attention. So, he didn’t get any. Poor guy.

6. Whitney, the child-biting schnauzer who hated everyone and everything including fun.

Whitney was a cute puppy, but somewhere along the way, she developed a taste for human blood. After that, she lost much of her cuteness. She didn’t like toys or walks or playing at all. She lived and died by the Milkbone. And she would stone-cold eat your hand for it. The only person she didn’t despise was my mom. They had a special bond. Almost like tamer and lion. Only more dangerous.

As you can imagine, deciding to get another dog was huge. I campaigned for Ella for weeks, but I never thought they’d go for it. I just had a good feeling… somehow I knew they had paid their dues to the Bad Pet Club. They had suffered through years of disappointment (Marcie Noreen), heartbreak (Ferdinand) and torture (all others). The expectations were high. The stakes were higher. That’s a lot for a little puppy to be saddled with. It could have gone horribly wrong and we wouldn't have been all that surprised.

But just look at her. In this picture, she’s asking “Wasn’t it all worth it?” Yes, Ella. Yes, of course it was. But you knew I was going to say that.


Jessica said...

That is because they got a kind charles. Anyone i know who has one or has owned one in the past rant and rave about them. she is darling. People say the same about my beast, that he is beautiful, soft, calm on and on. Then i tell them, that most days those are the ONLY reasons I keep him. Just ask Nat, or even better Laura Bohn(she had to live with him for the first year of his life)
He jumped out the window today for example and my employee jogged after him for 15 minutes, finally pleading for help from some innocent teenage neighborhood boy. They literally cornered him against a wall and pounced on him.
I know ella would never do that.
Keep making me laugh ang. Oh, and I have been reading your blogs to devin and gotten some good laughs out of him. This is from someone who thinks blogging is pointless, a waste of time, etc. And I agree, but love it.

Anonymous said...

All at once hilarious and heartbraking. Brilliant.

natali said...

i am not the nat referred to by jessica for the record. i thought i was for five minutes. but i was wrong.

my cabbage patch was named walter.

emily said...

My CPK was Tony Ricky and still to this day I am convinced they accidentally slipped a boy birth certificate into her box, because who names a girl Tony Ricky? Also, I wanted a turtle my entire childhood (to be named Skipperdee, of course) but my mom wouldn't let me have one because she said "turtles always die in two weeks". Apparently she was right.

Leslie and Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie and Dave said...

My Friend Angie, the one true blogger I know. The rest of us just use it as a place to post pictures of ourselves and brag about our lives:) I love reading your thoughts!

The Cliftens said...

I love little Ellie! Your blog could perhaps be the funniest thing I have ever read..

Meghann said...

I think I had the worst CPK name ever - Babs Claudia. Does it get any worse than that?

reno said...

Mags, I can't stop laughing about Babs Claudia. You're right- it doesn't get much worse than that. Hahaha.