Daphne and me: A meeting of minds

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It’s morning.

So early that the night remains steadfast in the sky, not ready to relinquish its reign.

The smell of perfectly roasted coffee fills the kitchen. No children are awake at this hour, leaving the sleepy man and woman to whisper and nestle.

And that’s when it happens. Every morning, the silent accusations. So clearly spoken, even without words.

“Hey, you’re eating something we didn’t get. We’re being abused here. Can’t you even stand to touch us?”

It’s Daphne and Cap’n Jack. One black, one white, and both sporting brown spots. United in a common goal of GETTING SOMETHING. ANYTHING!

Daphne arrived, of course, with Camo Man. He and his late wife got her as a puppy — I’ve seen her baby pictures and she was irresistible, all Jack Russell head and dachshund body.

And she had a great puppyhood. Set in the outskirts of town, my husband’s former home and huge lot feel “country.” Daphne grew up having complete run of the yard. She never wore a collar or made the acquaintance of a leash. She could access all the kibble she wanted at any hour of the day, sleep wherever she chose. Daphne was queen of a dog’s world.

Who would want to leave that behind? Not Daphne.

Poor little thing. Within a few short days at my house she had been collared, crated at times and rationed controlled feedings. And definitely no couch habitation.

It was quite the adjustment. We still have to hide the leash — heaven forbid it clinks — just to get Daphne out the door for a walk.

Yet Daphne is in no way the loser here. She’s abundantly blessed with the “adorable” gene. Meaning after she’s growled at whoever dares enter the door, they still want to make friends with her cute self.

Cap’n Jack is no exception. He immediately loved his new sister. He went from human to dog flat out in nine seconds, all back-end sniffing, doggie bed cuddling and buddying up for bone-chewing sessions. When let out of the crate in the mornings Daphne races up the stairs to the open back door and waits there for the lumbering Jack before going out.

In case you haven’t picked up on this, the little lady is ridiculously smart. Example: I give our dogs a nutrition supplement our veterinarian said could help their coats be lush. (Note to self: Why do I want more dog hair on the furniture?)

I mix the tablet into some plain yogurt for digestive health and a tiny glop of peanut butter. Only then do I add expensive dog food.

Funny story: When Camo Man and I began dating, I begged him not to roll his eyes at how much I spend on canine groceries. Turns out he spent more.

The Cap’n loves breakfast. Just devours the whole mess, licking his bowl thrice to get microscopic traces of peanutty goodness. He’s done in about 20 seconds, tops.

Daphne? She watches my every movement. If she sees I’ve put her pill in there, it’s over. No matter how much I mix and toss in incentives. Like cheese shreds (I hope my vet isn’t reading this). It matters not. She might be dying for breakfast, but Daphne has a point to make — “I am in control. If that means not touching this, so be it.”

So now I have to turn my back and always keep the bowl out of the dog’s line of vision while creating this nutritional masterpiece. Hard to do since Daphne doesn’t blink as the vitamin drawer rolls out.

To her credit, Daphne taught Jack to run. Not that he didn’t run before, but he more kind of loped than ran. If one can lope with four-inch legs.

Daphne, however, just flies. Like she was really meant to be a bird before her spirit got sown into a puppy’s body. She loves country roads the best, where she can stay even with the Ford pickup going 15 miles per hour before she falls back a short distance. Daphne is rarely ready to jump back in when we insist she do so.

We’ve tried this in our neighborhood, as well. The runner quickly got used to city driving conditions and runs directly behind the vehicle for the three blocks she’s allowed.

But the looks on people’s faces have effectively deflated this urban jog. They don’t see a dog that whines to be allowed to race; they see a little sweetheart desperately running after a family leaving her behind. We stop to explain what they are actually observing, but are met with skeptical looks and a quick jotting down of our license plate number.

The pup is a delightful gift from Camo Man and Hunter Boy to the Hagar household. Even with the white hairs on my new black jeans and the incessant insistence that anyone who comes to the door is going to MURDER THE FAMILY! CALL THE COPS, I CAN’T KEEP UP THIS BARKING MUCH LONGER!

We love that little Daphne. I’m certain she’s going to supply stories for all of us. You’ll love her, too.

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