Jetta, Emma’s 11-year-old blue teacup poodle, is given some people food with her dinner. Then she comes to my chair either effusively thanking me for the exquisite meal or pretending she’s the other dog and hasn’t gotten any, I’m not sure which. (The poodle people designate Jetta blue because her father was white and her mother black, white flecks in her black coat.)
Jetta denies that she has inherited a gene from her great-great-great grandfather Jedediah Wolf that makes her swallow her food whole and then forget she has eaten it.
Emma once raised toy poodles. She had a small kennel, showed her dogs, and one, little black Itzy, became a champion. Itzy wasn’t much bigger than Jetta.
Emma had gotten Jetta just before I arrived in Wilmington for my “visit”. Jetta was a feisty puppy, demanding, but also, as Emma noted a couple of years ago, “She’s a sensible little dog.” Jetta is my gauge of how well Emma is doing. If something is amiss, Jetta points it out: “Umm, Samantha…? Ya gotta see this.”
One night early into my Wilmington “visit”, Jetta got limp and her gums and tongue went pale, almost white. We got into the car and rushed her to the emergency vet’s. The vet didn’t know what was wrong, but he gave her some medication and she was fine the next day. My guess is, that she had gotten into whatever BeeGee had, but because we rushed her to the vet’s she lived.
Before I decided that my visit had turned into permanent residency, my brother suggested we look around for an apartment for Emma close to where he lived, so he could keep an eye on her while I resumed my life in California. We looked around, but apartment rentals near him in his town were either too expensive or in undesirable neighborhoods. My brother and his wife were already caring for his mother-in-law who was terminally ill.
Ultimately, it became obvious that Emma needed someone to be living with her to watch over her.
Emma’s apartment was small. I had furniture and belongings in storage. If I were going to stay, we’d need a bigger place. So, we looked for something to buy. My brother often went with us to inspect the condition of the house. Emma wanted a ranch style, although she was partial to Cape Cods, and many of the newly constructed homes – we were in the middle of a housing boom here – were Cape Cods or otherwise two stories. Emma didn’t want to have to climb stairs, though. We three would enter a house, spread out to look around, and then, finding my brother, I’d say, “Where’s Mother?” “Oh, she went upstairs,” said the salesman, just as we spotted her coming back down – that quick.
Ultimately, we found this charming 1894 Victorian in the historic district. We bought it and in August 2002 moved in.
Jetta was thrilled to be able to run up and down the stairs and have so much space to explore, after that cramped apartment.
Then she met her next-door neighbor, Bootsie, the cat, impeccably dressed to the nines in his tuxedo, white whiskers gracefully flowing. “Well, hello there,” he said to her, hand on hip, towering over her. Daily, they’d greet each other with a little kiss on the nose. Jetta would attempt to chase Bootsie and he’d roll over onto his back, Persian-like snowy white chest and tummy fur exhibited, always wearing a broad smile beneath his large, pale green eyes.
We thought Bootsie was gearing up to run for mayor, but then last winter, he moved to a nearby town. Jetta now has to content herself chasing squirrels – albeit from her leash – and the nice bunny rabbits that eat my lettuce and carrots in my herb garden. (The squirrels simply exchange walnuts for the tulip bulbs I have planted. Consequently, in my flowerbed, instead of tulips, walnut trees grow.)