Pissin' On Tires
Well, my dog died. Now I’m sitting here listening to Elvis sing about poor Ol’ Shep with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one hand and a cup of Jim Beam in the other. And let me tell you. Ol’ Shep ain’t got nothing on my Ol’ Bitty.
She found me. Not the other way around. Followed me home fourteen years ago, flea-infested with velvet ears that were made to touch. She was the color of Kentucky clay with black lining her eyes like some Egyptian princess. When she smiled at me, her too-big, purple tongue hanging out her mouth, I discovered love at first sight.
I took her home and cleaned her up. Daddy walked in and started fuming.
“Hell no, that bitch ain’t stayin’.”
She glared at him from the folds of the towel.
“You can’t keep her, Whit,” he said and took a swig of Coke like throwing back a shot.
“Y’are already knocked up. How you gonna take care of a dog and a baby?”
“I’m keepin’ her, Daddy.” I crossed my arms over my belly.
He stared at me for a long minute, took another swig, looked to the dog, and nodded. “Fine. The bitch can stay.”
I grinned. “Hear that, Bitch, you gonna stay.”
Daddy slapped my shoulder. “Don’t know as that’s a proper name for a little baby to be sayin’.”
I laughed and Bitch barked. After a bit of finagling, we settled on Bit which turned quickly into Bitty when Daddy felt particularly indulgent. Ol’ Bitty only ever loved three men and one of ‘em was Daddy.
Now even though a lot of these idiots around here don’t think too much of caring for animals, I ain’t one of ‘em and neither is Daddy. We took Bit into the vet to have her shots and looked over. And that was the first I knew she wasn’t like most dogs.
She was just a wee thing, right at ten pounds, at the time. The vet took her temperature rectally, of course.
“Well, Miss Whitney, she’s probably near four or five months and lookin’ good all things considered,” the doc told us both. He grabbed hold of her tail and lifted.
Bit turned her head and stared at him like she could shoot lasers out of her eyes when she saw the thermometer.
“Here we go.” He plunged the thermometer in and her Egyptian eyes got big.
I had to grab her jaw and turn it to look at me. “Bitty Baby, he’s just checkin’ your temp to make sure you’re ok.”
“All done,” he declared and patted her rear. He stopped patting when he saw the look on her face.
That look said, “Mister, I don’t know who the hell you think you are, but when I get bigger you sure as hell ain’t shovin’ nothin’ up my ass again.”
And he didn’t.
At least not without two grown men and a muzzle on her. She only got to be about 50 pounds, but she was a fighter.
Boy, she always got carsick. We found that out the first time we took her home from the vet. She was laying in my lap with her head out the window. If a dog looked green, she looked green. Out of nowhere, she stands up on my legs. We were a stop sign away from home. One stop sign. Bless her heart but she tried to make it to the window. Next I know, she threw up all over me and the inside of the truck and the outside of the truck.
“Oh shit! Bitty! What the hell!” Daddy rolled through the stop sign. He covered his mouth and nose and leaned out toward the free air of his window. Then he started heaving.
“Not you too!” I scolded.
That’s when we hear the boop of the siren and blue lights flashed in the rearview.
Daddy managed to pull over while he was dry heaving. I looked over and it’s friggin’ Bobby Greene coming up to the door. Now, he and I dated a bit in high school. Bad thing is I kinda dumped him before prom. Well, the day before prom. But in my defense, he was an ass. His daddy was a detective at Hoptown, and now Bobby was here in Pembrooke.
Bitty heaved her guts all over the window again and that’s when Daddy lost it all over Bobby-friggin-Greene’s brand new, straight-out’a-the-police-academy uniform.
“What the…” He started shouting and doing this dance that made me glad I dumped him.
“Hey, Bobby,” I said and tried to smile.
Can you believe his sorry ass still gave Daddy a ticket? Even tried to get him for assaulting an officer. I threatened him with his mama who was my daddy’s best friend’s sister. Anyhow, he just got a moving violation, and Bitty got to ride in a cage in the back of the truck from then on.
Not a few days later, my then-boyfriend came around the shop. Ethan was just the cutest guy. Going to Austen Peay and everything. Daddy owned Sanders Auto Repair in Pembrooke. We mainly worked on trucks from the farms in the area. But we worked on some other vehicles too. Anyhow, my boyfriend came by. I was wearing my cutest shorts and tank top. I even wore the cowgirl boots Ethan gave me. They were pink and rhinestone studded. I hated pink, still do, but I was a love-dumb nineteen-year-old.
Bit nuzzled me and kissed my cheek. “There he is,” I whispered into her fur as he got out his ‘71 Chevy.
Ethan grinned and moved in to kiss me. Bit growled and snapped at him. “Who’s this mutt?”
“Oh, this’s my Bitch.” I set her on the ground.
“Please tell me that’s not her name, Whit.”
Bitty sat herself at our feet and glared up at him. I laughed when he swung me up to sit in the bed of his truck. I hated that the damn tailgate was missing. But he sure was good at making me forget about it.
“Look. I need to talk to you.”
He kept nibbling on my neck. Bit growled and bit his pants leg. “Ou! Damn dog!” He kicked her away. She yelped.
“You ass!” I pushed him away and hopped down. I scooped Bitty up. “What the hell is wrong with you? She’s just a puppy.”
“That bitch bit me!”
My mouth fell open. “If you can’t handle a puppy, how are you supposed to handle…” I turned away.
I couldn’t say it.
He glared at me when I dared to look back. “Handle what, Whitney?”
I took a deep breath. “I’m pregnant, Ethan.”
His eyes went wide, and he coughed. “You’re what? You’re pregnant.” He paused and I felt my stomach turn. “Whose is it? I know it ain’t mine. I wrapped my shit every time.”
Both our hackles raised. Bitty growled. “You didn’t every time and you damn well know it.” I set down Bit, and she sat at my feet.
“Well, Whit, you slept with half the football team in high school. Just saying.”
I felt my cheeks burn. “I’m about ready to shove my boot up your ass, Ethan Keller.”
“Look. I gotta get goin’.”
I pushed him at the truck. “Get then! Go on and be just like your daddy who ain’t never been ‘round. You ain’t nothin’ but a deadbeat daddy.”
He opened the door. “You’re nothing but a slu---”
I took a breath to holler at him, but Bit barked up at the front, driver-side wheel. We looked over at her. She hiked her leg and pissed all over the wheel. Her Egyptian-princess eyes glared at him, but her muzzle seemed to curl into a smirk. She even jiggled her leg as the last drop fell.
He went after her. “You bitch!”
I took off my boot and threw it at him. “You hurt my girl and, so help me God, I’ll bury your deadbeat ass in the woods, Ethan Keller!”
That’s when Daddy came out of nowhere and scooped Ethan up by the scruff of the neck. Just in time too. The bastard nearly got my girl. “Time to get your ass out.” He even shoved his steel-toe boot up his ass.
Ethan hopped into his truck and sped out. I threw the other boot and hit the side of his truck.
“Get a damn tailgate, you bastard!”
Ol’ Bitty chased the truck to the edge of parking lot, barking profanities.
Daddy sighed and threw his arm around my shoulders. I wiped my tears, and he kissed my temple. “That’s a damn good dog. I got a steak in the freezer. Come on, Bitty!”
I laughed. Bitty gave one last bark before running back to me. I scooped her up and held on as she licked away my tears.
Turns out Ol’ Bitty didn’t care much for any of the men in my life. She pissed on their truck tires and hoods a few times. And Daddy always gave her a steak dinner when she did.
A few months later when my daughter was born, Ol’ Bitty guarded her like she was Bit’s own pup. She’d lay next to her crib or pack ‘n play in the shop. Bit was like Bailey’s second mama. She even pissed on bicycles when little boys came to visit our baby girl.
One thing she didn’t put up with were other boy-dogs. She apparently didn’t think any man was good enough for her either. Even Daddy’s bluetick Robert wasn’t good enough, no matter how many fights they had when the heat blazed. And let me tell you, Robert was infatuated. He loved her fierce.
I eventually started taking my lessons from her and got a little more selective. But when Bailey and Ol’ Bitty turned ten, I finally found someone I dared take home. The four of us watched as Ol’ Bitty sniffed Paul. She growled and went to the car.
“Just don’t piss the hood, Bit,” Daddy begged. “It’s a ‘67 Camaro by all that’s good and holy.”
Ol’ Bitty ignored him and sniffed the tires. I held my breath when she looked right at Paul and me. Then she pissed in the grass next to the car. My mouth dropped open when she trotted up to me, kissed my hand, and nuzzled Paul.
“What just happened?” Bailey asked.
“That’s a temporary blessing,” Daddy said and pointed at Paul.
Paul laughed and kissed my cheek. “I hear ya, Mr. Sanders.”
Needless to say, I married that man. We ended up having a little boy Casher. Paul and Casher were the second and third men Bitty loved.
At fourteen years old, Bitty finally let Robert get some. I couldn’t believe it when she turned out pregnant. To be honest, I thought she was going to die pushing out them babies. I couldn’t stop crying as I stayed on the floor next to her. But she pulled through and gave us four baby boys and one Egyptian princess. She struggled to make sure them babies got all they could. The day she weaned the pups we were sitting there all together loving on the babies. She could barely lift her head for Bailey to drip some water into her mouth. But she pushed her head under Bailey’s hand. Then Bitty moved Bailey’s hand to the little princess’s head.
Bailey nodded and cuddled the puppy to her chest. “I’ll take good care of her, B.”
Casher brought the puppy with a mask over his eyes and let Ol’ Bitty sniff him. “Cas keep?”
Ol’ Bitty nuzzled both. She then turned those golden eyes to me. We both knew. With a heave, she threw herself across my legs. I made sure my arms held her tight as she sighed one last time and I memorized the scent of her fur.
I still feel like Ol’ Bitty should be living as long as I will. But as I sit here sipping my Jimmy Beam and drowning in my B&J, I’m watching Bailey play with Cleopatra and Casher catch lightning bugs with Robin. Bailey’s boyfriend rides up on his bike. Cleopatra sniffs him and immediately hikes a leg and pisses all over his sneakers.
“Cleo!” Bailey shouts as he runs off. “I really liked that boy!”
I can’t help but smile behind my drink. “Steak it is.”