This is Bitsy. Bitsy is hiding under my sister’s car because I just gave her a bath because she was greasy because she hides under the cars. It’s predictable, but short of penning her up in the house where she would be miserable and run from door to door begging to be let out, there isn’t much I can do about it. She comes out to see me briefly, still not smiling, still nervous, and then retreats under my car. I let her go. She watches me distrustfully.
Bitsy hates baths. She goes stiff as a board and will not lick my nose, which is usually one of her primary joys in life. She endures baths silently and reproachfully and watches every minute for a chance to run like a prisoner escaping from Rikers Island—swiftly and without looking back. Bitsy hates being groomed. All I have to do is walk outside with a brush and a scissors, and she skulks away in the opposite direction. Only lengthy pleading and cajoling can make her come crouching back, head down, eyes averted. Pomeranians can fail to smile as surely as they can smile—ask any owner of a Pomeranian.
I love my dog, though, and I do not give her a bath just to torture her, any more than she hides under the cars just to torture me. I want her to be clean, even if she wants to be dirty. I brush her out so that we will enjoy stroking her fur, which will make all of us happy. Bitsy included. I can’t, however, reason with Bitsy, any more than Bitsy can reason with me.
I know she will forgive me soon, and I know that right now she loves me even though she is having a hard time liking me. I know I love her even though I wish she wouldn’t hide under the cars and get all greasy. Bitsy and I have weathered many baths and puppies and vet visits. Bitsy and I have been through thick and thin, and I know she will forgive me soon. She loves me even though she doesn’t understand. I love her even though I don’t understand why she hates being clean so much.
I sat beside Bitsy while she gave birth to little rat-like babies. Bitsy cried the night that her puppy died, and I did my best to comfort her. I held her fearfully while she seized the night she got preeclampsia. Bitsy would come running to see me when she was just a baby herself, when I came walking across the field, home from milking cows, and we would tussle in the lawn for a long time. We would garden together and go for walks together and play with old socks together. Bitsy disappeared several times, and I walked all over the property calling for her until finally she would reappear, wagging her tail a little guiltily. She was my friend when I was lonely, and I was her friend when she begged for people food. I gave her a peach stone after I was done eating a peach. She swallowed the whole thing in one gulp and looked a little surprised. She also ate my pet kittens, so we are even.
I know that right now Bitsy doesn’t quite like me, but she still loves me just like I still love her. I know she will forgive me soon. Our relationship goes way back. She will forgive me for giving her baths, and I will forgive her for being a greasy mess because she hides under my car. Because neither of us is perfect, and forgiving is what friends do.