One day a few months ago, I was standing out in front of the puppy window, looking over the kennel. I do that sometimes just to get my thoughts in order. This disheveled looking lady came up to the puppy window, made a bee-line to a black and tan Chihuahua puppy we had and said, "Is that a Yorkus?" That's how she pronounced Yorkies. So it rhymed with orcas. Yorkus. I learned long ago never to correct someone's pronunciation. People who say dash-hound are convinced that it is supposed to be pronounced dash hound and no crash courses in German or the meaning of the root word "dach" in the word Dachshund is going to make a difference. Same with people who refer to millet spray as mullet. No use telling them mullet is a fish, they don't care. The world, in general, likes to remain ignorant. So I just said, "No, that's a Chihuahua puppy."
She was unconvinced. "That don't look like no Chihuahua. Looks like a Yorkus to me. You sure that's not a Yorkus?" Please note, there is a cage card that says, very largely, CHIHUAHUA. Also be aware, this dog looks exactly like a damn Chihuahua and nothing like any Yorkie you've ever seen. She was a smooth coated Chihuahua, not even a long-haired, so the lady didn't have that as an excuse, either.
I just said, "Yes, I'm very sure. That's a Chihuahua puppy."
"Someone could have made a mistake," she says confidently.
"Nope," I reply. I'm getting sort of amused at this point. "That's a Chihuahua. Other dogs besides Yorkies can be black and tan."
"Oh I know," she snaps back, peevishly. "I've had lots of 'em. I even had a white one, oncet."
A white Yorkie? Ooookay. Sure. "Oh?"
"Yeap. And dont'cha know, I bred her to my male.. Oh, lots of times. Over and over and over again, but not one of them pups ever come out lookin' like a Yorkus?" This said with a slightly probing questioning tone, as if she might like me to throw light on the mystery of why her extraordinarily rare white Yorkus never produced pups that looked like a purebred Yorkshire Terrier.
"You don't say," is all I would give up. I wasn't about to tell this lady that if her dog was pure white it was not a Yorkie. I'll let someone else fight that battle. Clearly, she wouldn't know a good looking Yorkie if it bit her in the ankle since she's convinced that a Chihuahua is a Yorkie, so what's the point?
"Nope. I could only ever get 'bout 150 dollars for 'em," she said sadly.
I didn't reply, and she didn't say anything for a minute or two, inspecting all the puppies. Suddenly, she hollers over her shoulder at me, accusingly, "What they doin' for water if you let 'em sleep in their water bowls?"
This mistake happens frequently. For the little dogs, I put very large dog bowls in their cages to sleep in. For some reason, people only see the puppy sleeping in a very large dish, completely ignore the other dish filled with food in their cage and the water bottle hanging on the outside, and freak out, saying things like this. Why people think that we would give a 2 pound dog a food bowl big enough for the largest Great Dane in the world, I have no idea. But they do. All the damn time.
"That's not their water bowls. They have water bottles on their cages."
"Well what in the hell is it in there for, then?" She demands.
"For them to sleep in."
"... Oh." At this, either she felt extremely foolish or she had run out of things to say, because she wandered away, leaving me wondering what in the hell just happened here?
Way back in the winter, probably January or February, we went through this period of a few weeks where this crazy woman kept bringing us dead lovebirds, wanting someone to sex them for her. Seriously. The first time she did it, she made a beeline for my friend S, and said, "Can you tell me if this is a boy or a girl?" and held out the deceased avian. S sort of recoiled, and said, "Um. I can tell you it's dead." At which point the lady began stroking it and crooning to it. She did not reply to the fact that it was dead, saying instead, "Isn't it pretty? Isn't it pretty?" A bunch of us at the time were putting away an order that had just come in and we sort of paused and watched the strangeness for a minute before all of us quickly dispersed, lest we become the object of the lady's attention. Yes, we have no shame. We all completely abandoned S to her fate with the crazy dead bird woman. "We" in this case includes the owner of the store. We regrouped behind an aisle of dog food to blink, wide-eyed at each other and whisper things like, "W. T. F., dude," and twitter over the fact that when this was all over with, S was going to curse us all out for leaving her like that. Which she did.
This happened, I kid you not, three more times. Each time, she hunted S down like an S-seeking missile and wanted S to pet and praise the dead bird. (She didn't.) I have no idea why she was so fascinated with S, but it's like the rest of us didn't exist to her. Finally, S got extremely exasperated with it all and told the lady, "Look, it doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl, it's DEAD." You notice people like that when they're repeat offenders, but somehow you don't really notice when they stop coming around. You only notice when they pop back up again, and the memories click and you realize who it is you're talking to.
That happened to me last week. I was helping an older couple with a white Poodle or possibly a Bichon or mix of the two with collars. The problem with the collar they had was that the dog kept slipping her head out of it, but they flatly refused to get a smaller one. In fact, they wanted a bigger one. Reason? "It has to be big enough for when her hair grows in. She's shaved right now, you know."
"No, sir. It has to be small enough that she can't slip her head out of it no matter how fluffy she is, or she's just going to keep getting loose."
Logic, they defy you! If the dog can slip out of a loose collar, then a harness is the answer! What's the difference between a properly fitted collar and a properly fitted harness when her hair grows back in? They couldn't tell me, they just knew that a harness was the answer to all their problems. Okay. It's not my job to talk sense into people who aren't making any when they want to needlessly spend money on inanimate objects. You want a harness? You got a harness. Through most of this, the man had been doing the talking and the woman had sort of been nervously hiding behind him. When I went to fit the harness on the dog she said something inane to me and I looked up and my blood ran cold. OMG. It was the Crazy Bird Lady. And her husband was just as nonsensical. Great. They didn't know how to put a harness on, so I showed them. I also showed them that there are instructions on the back of the tag for how to put it on, and advised them not to throw it away so they could refer to it at home. Right-o. Off they go with a new harness.
On Sunday, they were back. I had 3 customers waiting for my attention, and employees of the store kept interrupting me to tell me some lady was looking for me. Okay, okay. Jesus. Just let me get finished with the three people ahead of her. Finally, she just interrupted my conversation with a customer who was concerned about a new momma rat. It was Crazy Bird Lady and her Only Slightly Less Crazy Husband, and their dog. They couldn't figure out how to put the harness on. So I showed them. Again.
"I just can't put it on myself because when I try to bend down, I can't breathe and I almost pass out," she tells me.
"Well, then perhaps you could sit and have her sit on your lap to put it on," I suggested.
No, my goodness no, that's logical. We can't have that. "I can't put it on because I have cancer," she said to me. I'm pretty sure at this point she's making things up to try and evoke my sympathy. But I also know that she's as mad as a hatter from the dead bird experience, so I didn't reply to the cancer statement. They rambled at me for a few more minutes a bunch of things that didn't make sense and finally said, "I guess we'll just have to come back every day for you to put it on her."
Whoa whoa whoa wait. Wait one minute. I said, "But I'm not always here." It's true. I have a life outside of the kennel.
"Yes, but we have no one else to help us." So.. you could just learn to do it yourself. But no. They pay no attention to me when I try to explain again how to put the harness on. They just keep making lame excuses as to why they can't learn to do it themselves.
Monday morning, they were back again. The new girl huffs back into the kennel and says, "Those people with the harness are back again, they want you." OMFG. You have got to be kidding me. I have a kennel full of cages to clean, and not only that, today is a vaccination day. So I have to rush to get the cages all clean so I can rush to get all these dogs their vaccinations and wormings that are due. Add that to the fact that there are now about 19 slots taken up on the med chart, and I'm going to be lucky to get everything done before I leave at 3 to get my son off of the bus. I don't have time for this shit! Really. I'm not technically SUPPOSED to be helping customers, just working with the dogs. I help customers when I can, but seriously, nobody ever expected the kennel manager before me to deal with customers. He never did. You know why? Because he didn't have time for that shit, that's why. So that's what I tell the new girl. "Sorry, don't have time for that shit. Those people are crazy."
So a guy named P tries to help them. Unfortunately, he also has no idea how to put a harness on a dog. (Really, why was I the only person in the store that day who knew how to put a harness on a dog?) Finally, after he begs me, I come out, and show them how to put the harness on. Again. This time she says, "I can't do it, you see, because I'm a Holocaust survivor." Swear. She said that. Lady, I don't care what kind of survivor you are. Hurricane Katrina, Holocaust or reality TV show, you can still learn to put a harness on your own dog. First you can't do it because you can't breathe, then you couldn't do it because you have cancer, now you can't do it because the Germans tried to kill you sixty years ago. WTF. I know you're crazy but that's just.. that's just crazy. I said, again, "You have to learn how to do it. Really, because there is going to come a time when you need it on her and nobody is going to be there to do it for you. I'm not here all the time, and I'm not always going to be working here." And then I left them standing there.
They didn't come in today until after I left. I got a text message at home from P:
P: Yo it's P. [4:15pm]
Me: Yo [4:20pm]
P: The old couple is back about that harness lol [4:27pm]
Me: See! I told them I wasn't always going to be there! [5:05pm]
P: lol they're tryin to find you. lol [5:11pm]
Me: Spot's hot [5:12pm]
When I told one of the general managers about this problem and that it was the Crazy Dead Bird Lady, she said, "I knew she looked familiar! And you know what, she was after me about that harness, too, but she told me she couldn't learn to do it because she has Alzheimer's. Then a few minutes later she said she couldn't learn to do it because she has diabetes."
I don't think she has cancer, diabetes or Alzheimer's, but there is definitely something wrong with her. Yep. Nuttier than a fruitcake.