Stuffed animals aren’t nearly that fun

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 20, 2004

Family Ties – Mary Ann Fitzmorris

“It’s a wonder my husband lets me come over here,” my niece said as she rescued her baby from the humping Demon Pup. “I think he does it so I can tell him amazing stories when I come back.”

“What do you mean?” I asked innocently.

She stared hard at me and answered, “Let’s put it this way. We were going to take him to the circus, but I think we can skip it now.” The entire household at Chez Fitzmorris was looking forward to her visit. Her baby is now fifteen months old. He’s like a little wind-up toy that reduces us to giggling idiots.

When they are in town, we often see them at my brother’s house. But she decided to come here to visit just once this trip. The plan was for her to sleep over, but I generously offered to cut back her exposure to us, suggesting just dinner as an alternative.

The festivities started immediately upon her arrival. The Fitzmorris doggies love their visitors!

I instructed her not to get out of the car until we threw a ball for the Demon Pup. This distracts the dog long enough for a visitor to disembark from their car.

It did not protect her from the Good Old Dog, who approached calmly and inserted his nose in her crotch as she stepped from the vehicle.

Good Old Dog obliged when I called him, allowing my niece to get her baby. The boy loves dogs. I wondered if he would still love them when he left.

They got into the house before any more fur could welcome them. My niece was dressed very inappropriately for a visit here. She was wearing nice clothes that were light in color. Anyone who arrives here like that should have a change of clothes. . .and their head examined.

Things actually went smoothly for a while. Demon Pup and I played ball on one side of the glass doors and the boy watched from the other side. Every time the dog came close to the glass door, the little guy would back away.

But soon he tired of this safety. He wanted to get close to the big dog. That’s when the real fun began.Having the big dog on the same side of the glass doorintimidated the little boy, so he turned to walked away. The dog followed him with her nose firmly lodged in the crack of his butt.

He was rescued by his mom and whisked up to sit on the kitchen counter. The dog remained faithfully nearby, sniffing my niece’s elbows. As soon as her son dangled his hand, the doggie licked his fingers.

Demon Pup got tired of being swatted by my niece, retreating to lay on the floor. But the young visitor kid is a thrill seeker. He got down to see Demon Pup.

Dog and baby played a harrowing cat and mouse game around the kitchen island, the boy emitting a low level siren of distress to his mother every time the dog got close. My niece resembled a Jack-in-the-Box, popping up with each siren.

Dinner was another red alert. The Good Old Dog and Demon Pup got into a growling dogfight under the dining room table over table scraps, affectionately known here as Food For Dogs.

We moved to the living room, watching Demon Pup eat a lovely dress shoe that used to be mine. “She might finish that off tonight,” I said, offering conversation. My niece just shook her head. “Cheaper than the baseboards,” I shrugged.

Occasionally Demon Pup dropped the heel of the shoe, which the baby quickly grabbed and returned. They might have shared bites of an insole. My niece asked “So, do you get any return visitors here?”

She dressed the baby for bed. As she changed his diaper, Demon Pup dropped her dirty ball in my niece’s lap. “Mom, is she spending the night?” my daughter asked hopefully.

“We’ll have nightmares, honey,” my niece answered very undiplomatically. I don’t know where her manners are.

We visited the little guy the next day in the safety of my brother’s house. My grandnephew didn’t seem himself. The boy’s mother offered an explanation for his mood.

“I think they call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”