Our kids missed the Elf on the Shelf Christmas craze by about five years, which doesn’t hurt my feelings in the least. But last month, we had our own version of a tiny imp wreaking holiday havoc. We call ours the “Cuban on the Reuben.”
Our mischief maker is our 8-pound Havanese, Lexi, who has turned our world upside down since she came to live with us 18 months ago as a puppy. Complicating her rapscallion nature is a keen sense of entitlement, which befits a member of the clan that is the National Dog of Cuba.
During the Cuban Revolution in 1959, fleeing aristocrats smuggled a few of their treasured lap dogs onto boats bound for the United States. From those Privileged Characters, the breed has re-established itself in the states.
It is clear that Lexi has not lost her royal countenance. She sits on her throne – a tuft of leather at the top of Fred’s favorite chair – and rests her noble head on his more plebeian one. That is, when she’s not leaping onto countertops and plunging her proboscis into any food left out.
Her quickness in leap-frogging from bar stools to our high kitchen countertop has forced us to pull the stools away from their rightful places unless we’re sitting on them. If I get up to refill a water glass and leave my plate unguarded, it’s a good bet most of its contents will disappear before I return. Shame on me. I knew the risk.
If that happens to Fred, it’s a sure bet he’ll go full-tilt into a “Fred Fit.” But Fred is all bark – especially when it comes to Lexi and our Shih Tzu, Lori, a rescue who is a full-blooded descendant of the Chinese breed but lacks the papers to prove it.
I refer to Lori and Lexi affectionately as Lortab and Lexapro, given the calming effects dogs supposedly have on their humans. But that may be a stretch for these two.
Both princesses prefer being walked on a leash to our sending them out to take care of their business. If not leash-walked to their satisfaction, they will register their protest with little gifts deposited on my dining room rug.
In biting winter weather, we weigh the tradeoff between leash-walking in the cold or poop-scooping in the warmth. A little poop never hurt anything.
Our third and oldest dog, Truman, has Canadian papers as a registered Bichon Frise, a French breed whose name, loosely translated, means “fluffy little white dog.” But he’s not too good to “go” outside. God bless Truman, who looks all the world like an albino Brillo pad, or the loopy side of Velcro.
“Lexi, don’t you touch my soup,” Fred just yelled even as I write this. He got up to let Truman out, leaving his homemade chicken soup in peril on a TV tray.
The minute he left, Lexi’s front paws were on the tray and her nose poised to infiltrate. But I can’t blame the little carnivore. My soup is slap-your-mama good. I make it from scratch. Deal with it, Betty Crocker.
After Fred raised his voice at Lexi, he quickly sat down and scooped her up. “Here, baby. Get on this side,” he cooed, settling her in beside his left leg. It’s fun to watch his head spin faster than Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist.
Fred’s firecracker temper popped a bit louder after Lexi shredded the Reuben sandwich he made for lunch last month. During his Fred Fit, he threatened to stuff Lexi between two more pieces of Rye bread, slather her in sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese, and eat her instead.
Then he laughed. Lexi worked that man with inspired genius. She wagged that little tail, opened those brown eyes wide in mock innocence, rolled over in a submissive beg for a belly rub, and that was that. Just minutes later, Lexi was sitting on Fred’s head licking his ears with corned-beef breath.
“Stop baby,” he whined good-naturedly, but to no avail. She slurped his other ear quicker than she slurps soup. He tolerates her lick attacks because he loves the attention. He never likes it when I lick his ears. But that’s another subject.
I pride myself that we are an international house – home to a Cuban Diva, a French Canadian, a Chinese Princess and two Alabama Crackers. If Fred and I had papers, they would show a spattering of Anglo, French and Scottish; and a smattering of Irish, Scandinavian and Cherokee.
Heinz 57 works for me. Especially on a Reuben sandwich.
Aunt Sister is a Southern Lady who was raised right, but overcame it, bless her heart. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @auntsistersays.
Aunt Sister the book is now available at Auntsister.com.