Yes, I sold her out due to peer pressure yesterday. And I'm none too proud of it.
First, some context: I stopped apologizing for my Yorkies long ago. I'm a big guy, and people, especially guys, frequently tease me about owning little dogs.
At first, it hurt. I didn't want to be labeled a sissy. So I made sure I trained Eddie, my first Yorkie. I put him through obedience school and taught him lots of tricks. When people teased me, I'd just lay a half-dozen tricks on them. That always shut them up.
Eventually, I realized Eddie is so special that he has nothing to prove. If ignorant people made fun of him, I stopped feeling the need to prove them wrong. Eddie had long ago proved himself to me that he was a "real dog," and that's all that mattered. I ignored critics.
My resolve was admittedly tested when I got Jillie. We were quite a sight walking down the street when she was a pup -- me at 225 pounds, Jillie at 3 with a bow in her hair. More than once, I'd hear a neighbor snicker or someone scoff, ''That's not a dog.''
But, as with Eddie, Jillie proved herself to me. She was all dog, and she too had nothing to prove to ignorant, or uninformed, people.
Flash forward to yesterday, though, and I suffered a setback. We had just finished a therapy dog visit at Providence Hospital. The director of the PAWS program was following me around so I could get a new volunteer badge.
I was holding Jillie, and she looked, well, adorable. Perfectly groomed with a pink topknot in her hair. She'd just wowed a group of a half-dozen kids in adolescent mental health with her array of tricks.
A burly security guard who was helping me with the badge walked up and immediately said "That's not your dog! That's gotta be hers!", pointing to the director of our program, a woman.
I said, "No, that's mine."
"NO WAY!" he said, laughing. "The bow in her hair? You look more like a Lab guy!"
I couldn't just ignore the guy because he was helping us out. And there was no room to show off her tricks. So I turned to betrayal.
"Well, yeah, I do have a 90-pound Chesapeake Bay retriever at home. And Jillie's more my wife's dog."
That was all true, technically, and it appeased the macho security guard. The razzing stopped.
But as I walked away I couldn't help but think I'd betrayed Jillie. Nothing against my Chessie, but Jillie does 10 times the number of tricks Lucy does. And while she was a present to my wife originally, she's pretty much my shadow when we're together. She's my dog -- and I'm the one who brushed her and put the bow in her hair for the therapy visit.
I guess I'll chalk it up as a lesson learned. If it happens again and I can't ignore someone, I'll engage them by telling them just how special Jillie is. I'll defend her.
I owe her that much for all the love she's given me.