Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Livin' Large: 4 Chapters of Teddy's Book

Livin' Large: Operation Teddy

CHAPTER ONE: "Movin' On Up"

It was a bright, warm, sunny morning on the morning Teddy was to begin his journey abroad. I'd been preparing myself mentally for a few days, admiring him with loving looks as he sat on the window-bench nibbling on his paw or a dental treat. Peter rang and we headed downstairs and up MacDougal Street to meet him on Houston. We climbed up into Peter's big Chevy Tahoe and sat on the plush leather seats in the roomy front seat. Teddy was his usual whiny self, unsure of where this adventure would end up and where he was going. I did my best to assure him all would be fine. And I rolled down the electric window to let him perch there and check out what was going on.

Peter drove leisurely up 6th Avenue in the middle lane, and I thought how different this was from my frantic and agressive morning commute bike rides. Teddy got more excited as we entered Central Park, remembering early Sunday mornings and thinking perhaps this massive blue chariot was to carry him to his favorite play place. But no! We continue on, up through and around the park, exiting at 72nd Street. The blue whale continued across town and then up Madison. As we got more North, we broke out into the Jefferson's theme song.

Teddy's "moving on up! To the East Side! To a Deluxe apartment, in the sky-eye! Ohhh, he's moving on up!" And movin' on up he was. Teddy was to spend the weekend with the O'Neills. Sheila has been begging to have a dog and, since Luke is wildly allergic, Peter wanted to do a more extended play date to create as realistic a scenario of owning a dog for his children. And so, I, generous woman that I am, agreed to donate Teddy to the cause. Or, shall I say, pimp him out!

We pulled into the garage and Teddy, always relieved to get out of a vehicle, was ready to see about relieving himself. He sniffed and marked as we rounded the corner of the Upper East Side street onto Tony Fifth Avenue.

We were introduced to the doorman, who was very curious as to who I was, as in "what's her connection, not her name." Nevermind that anyway, "Mr. O'Neill as a reminder, you know you have to use the service elevator with the dog."

"Look Teddy! You get your very own elevator! You're such a special little doggie, you get your own elevator."

Teddy's sniffing and sniffing all the corners and Peter begins his observations of how a little dog operates.

Operation Teddy is going into full swing as we enter the spacious 3-bedroom, 4-bath 15th-floor apartment. We toured the apartment, showing Teddy the den, living room and the kitchen--via a ball toss in that direction. I walked him down the hall and we inspected Luke's room, Sheila's room (picking up little knick-knacks along the way). Peter opened the door to the master bedroom where we saw the spacious bathroom and large room, now with just a large mattress in it and none of the accoutrements that had been there during the Reign of Caroline (the soon-to-be ex-wife).

Teddy obviously recognized this as the master's bedroom because after I left Peter called to say he left him "a steamer." Atta-boy Teddy! That's showing him who's master.

CHAPTER TWO: "Family Life"

Teddy enjoyed a morning of chasing the ball for about 1/2 hour when Hilde, the housekeeper showed up and promptly took the Tedster for a walk.

Peter came into work to report more. The report: "he pees everywhere" and "2 more doogies." And, "how much can that little dog store in his bladder? He must be all bladder! It's phenominal how much pee that little guy has in him! But he's a dogs-dog. He goes ballistic from the other side of the door when Baxter the sheephound goes in and out of his apartment. And he pees everywhere. He definitely likes to mark his territory."

I'm just glad he didn't mark all over the apartment.

Leaving after a couple of hours in the office, Peter goes to pick up Sheila and then, avec Teddy, Luke at the school where he's practicing in their play. They took him to Central Park and walked him all around. Despite his hesitations on "filling up the tank again," Peter let him drink some water from a fountain.

The next report came in a couple of hours later, "how much do you let him sniff other dog's butts? Is it alright if he sniffs every butt?" They also began learning that fine line between walking-the-dog and the dog-walking-you. Apparently Sheila and Luke had a philisophical difference where Luke wanted to bring him along and Sheila was going at Teddy's pace. I assured them these were all issues that can be dealt with when you get a puppy and train him to walk better.

After dinner, I got a call regarding Teddy's ability to sit bolt upright and manage to look completely indignant at not having a place-setting at the table as well. Ah yes, the dinner antics. Teddy is quite the dramatist. He successfully begged and got a couple of carrots for his first meal. I tell ya, that dog is very successful in getting what he wants. Those big round brown eyes that are so expressive. They'll getcha every time.

Saturday I got a call that they've taken Teddy to the Park several times and "he loves chasing that ball!" No kidding. They'd taken him to Petco and got him a bunch of new toys.

Boy-oh-boy this story really is turning into one of those Fresh Air Fund kid stories. Peter and I spent the next few calls, several hours apart, figuring out when to do the return drop-off. I agreed to let them take him out of the city, to the old-world moneied Oyster Bay. Now Teddy really was going to be rubbing shoulders with the Rockefellers! Go Teddy!

So Teddy was packed up and carted out of Manhattan, little inner-city doggie that he is (NOT!) to the idyllic, wealthy, priviledged countryside. As soon as they arrived at The Yellow House Luke took Teddy by the leash as he and Sheila Teddy-proofed it for him. Let loose in the backyard, Teddy was swooped up at the last moment by Peter before the neighboring, stalking, cat had her chance to take a swipe with her paw, claws extended, across his little snout. Peter joked that he didn't want to have to say, "pay no attention to that marble eye, Courtney, it's nothing. Teddy's fine!" Yeah, uh huh. Marble eye. Right.

Teddy's reprieve came when Caroline called in to reclaim her children for the night and Peter headed out for four hours to Uncle Henry's 80th birthday party. A four hour rest, and then a full night's sleep was just what he needed before another active day in the country.


It's true that animals gravitate towards those people who don't necessarily even like them. And Mrs. O'Neill, who's the Rockefeller in this story [she was born where the MOMA now stands] was grumbling as Teddy walked all over her petunias and promptly sat under her chair. Her feet propped on another chair, to rest her ankles after a surgery, she was good-hearted and laughing about the situation as Peter lovingly joked with her.

[insert pic of mrs. o'neill, teddy, peter and sheila]

After a respite, Peter threw Teddy's green squeky ball in the yard. "His eyesight is really bad!" "Well Peter," replied Courtney, "he's only used to having to go about 20 feet in a small New York City apartment! He's not used to having a ball thrown 100 yards out." We joked over the size of Meriwether, the O'Neill's Long Island residence.

Teddy walked in Central Park, claiming each landmark.
Teddy inspected Peter's entire back yard, almost getting swiped at by a neighboring cat.
Teddy chased the ball at Meriwether, the O'Neill's Long Island residence. [image: Peter shouting, "Go Long!"]


The kids had Monday, Columbus Day, off, so Peter called and asked if they could keep him out on the island one more night. "Sure, no problem." Courtney slept in on Sunday and Monday so her morning routine was miraculously short considering there was no dressing for the dog-walk, making coffee to go walk the dog and then the walking of the dog, to take up anywhere from half and hour to 45 minutes. She even got to take care of a few errands after work without having to worry about getting home in time for his after-work-walk.

Monday night, around 7:30 PM Peter drove up to 40 MacDougal with Luke and Sheila holding Teddy across the front seat bench. Teddy was perched on Sheila's lap, facing out the window, recognizing his street but still not seeing "mommy," as he was facing the other side.

Peter opened the driver side door and as everyone said "Hello Courtney," Teddy turned around and saw he was truly going home. Peter opened the passenger door and he set Teddy down, who prompty came running around the back of the car and onto the sidewalk. Mommy scooped him up and he clung to her like a little baby, nuzzling his head close to her neck on her shoulder. Peter opened the back door of the massive SUV and placed Teddy's crate, filled with old and new toys and his food bowl, onto the sidewalk. After getting back into his seat, starting the truck and rolling down the window, they stood there for a few moments while there were general comments on how valuable the weekend was, how much they appreciated it and how much fun they all had. "Kids, what do you say?" and they all three chimed together, "Thank you, Courtney."

Courtney, holding Teddy to see them, waved and waved Teddy's paw. She turned around and set him down, and carried his crate upstairs. After a moderage walk around the neighborhood they settled in for an evening of hugs, snuggling and playing.

Teddy nuzzled in on his window bench. "I'm home," Courtney could almost hear him say. Milkdud, the cat, was also relieved. "He's home! Yah! Finally my little furry playmate is back! Yippee!" He quicky tagged Teddy and they had a brief chase and wrestle.

Courtney scooped up Teddy and plopped him on her bed. This night, Teddy, you're sleeping with me! He padded up the bed to the pillow and flopped over. Head on the pillow, facing the wall, she spooned him. It was the first night he ever spent the whole night in the bed, sleeping at the head, with his mistress.