By the time Easter rolled around we’d had Jimmer for five months, but it seemed like generations. So long, in fact, that I’d forgotten what normal life was like. The pungent smell of dog food that at first made me sick was now odorless. I no longer scowled at the bite marks on the door frame near his kennel, I didn't mind that Jimmer’s chew toys were constantly strewn out in our backyard like carrion, and my son who used to only drink bottled water now drank regularly out of Jimmer’s water bowl.
This is, perhaps, the reason Danny came down with "acute tonsillitis" one week after these photos were taken.
Three months ago I would have thought this standard of living was unacceptable, but now it had become my new norm.
There once was a time when Scott would come home from work and walk right into the kitchen to see me and Dan. Now he walks straight from his car to the backyard and plays endless rounds of Frisbee with Jimmer, while his only son stands inside at the window wailing, “Da-Da-Da!”
Not only that, but sometimes I’d get these weird thoughts that Scott didn’t like me anymore. That maybe my hair just wasn’t shaggy enough or that I wasn’t athletic enough. Maybe if I exercised more…. or maybe if I spent more time out doors…. or maybe if I could catch a Frisbee with my teeth.
My greatest fear was that someday Scott would come home from work and I would be in a corner, gnawing on a bone, as loony as a border collie, and Jimmer would be cooking dinner. Perhaps it was only a matter of time.
On one particularly low day, I decided to re-visit the website entitled DO NOT BUY AN AUSTRAILIAN SHEPHERD to wallow in my buyers remorse. I read through it again, shaking my head and weeping from time to time. There was a list of reasons to not buy Aussies, only now that I was an experienced Aussie owner I thought it was woefully incomplete. Next to “Aussies are dirty, Aussies are obnoxious,” I could add: “Aussies know witch craft, Aussies break up marriages, and Aussies have the ability to steal your soul.”
While I was in this state of despair there was a knock at the door. I dried my eyes and answered it. It was the mailman, who handed me a package.
“Thanks.” I said and he left.
It was one of those unrippable plastic bag packages. The label said it was from Amazon.com. By moving it around I could feel that inside was something bendable and soft, like clothing or a small blanket, but I couldn’t remember ordering anything like that.
I took the package to the kitchen and got my scissors. Carefully, I cut one end of the package open and looked inside. Dark blue fabric. Ah, yes, I thought. It must be fabric for one of Scott’s hammocks. He was always ordering nylon rope, synthetic fabrics and carabineers on the internet. Then I noticed there were white stars printed in the fabric. That is unusual, I thought. Scott doesn’t usually use fabric with prints on it. Curious, I pulled the fabric out of the package and unfolded it. When I realized what it really was, my stomach did a flip-flop.
It wasn’t fabric for Scott’s hammocks. It was a huge Australian flag.
At first I was angry. Where did Jimmer get the money? He probably used my credit card, the little bandit. And why would a dog need an Australian flag? Jimmer hadn’t seemed like the patriotic type to me.
And that is when it dawned on me. Had I been wrong all of this time? How could I have been so blind? I draped the flag over my arm and took it outside.
With the sound of the door opening, Jimmer came bounding out of the shadows of the backyard, expecting a treat. He slowed down when he saw me.
“Its okay,” I said gently. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
He sat a safe distance away from me anyway.
“Do you recognize this?” I said, holding up the blue flag with the stars and the Union Jack in the corner.
He came closer and sniffed it. He sat down and cocked his head.
“Did you order it?” I asked, trying to not sound accusatory.
He said nothing. Apparently our dog telepathy wasn’t working today. But he did paw at the flag and then look up at me with sad-looking eyes. That was a good enough “yes” for me. I can’t believe we’d spent all of this time together, and I never understood until now what he was trying to tell me. Jimmer wasn't trying to take over my mind. He was just homesick.
I folded up the flag and crouched down so we could see eye to eye.
“Jimmer, are you thinking of your ancestors? Do you miss your homeland?”
Jimmer gave a pitiful whine. He lay down, put his nose into his paws, and rolled his eyes up to look at me. I thought I saw a tear.
It was then that I got the most brilliant idea I’ve ever had in my entire life. An idea that would bring me back from the brink of insanity. An idea that would restore my family to its original glory. An idea that would solve all of my problems. I pressed my face into the Australian flag and kissed it. Click here for Part 10
The thrilling conclusion of THE PERFECT PET will be posted on SUNDAY NIGHT.