I do not have the world's worst dog. Not even close. But I did have the puppy who bashed her nose against the bars until she bled when I tried to crate train her, who chewed windowsills and furniture legs, who opened the fridge and ate a pound of hamburger among other things, who routinely escaped while I was busy washing dishes and went upstairs to visit the neighbors. I still have the dog who cannot be allowed to be off-leash in an area within a mile of a road, because even though she doesn't want to be out of sight of me, her hound nose is bound to distract her. I have the original vengeance pee-er, who has a bladder of steel but will stand just out of reach, look me in the eye, and mark the floor if she thinks I should be paying attention to her. I know what it's like to come home to shoes torn to bits, carpet ripped up, claw marks in the door, unexpected puddles, and strewn garbage - all things I thought we conquered back in those puppy days, but which resurged when we moved to this apartment, which clearly did not quite suit her.
Laila is six years old now, middle-aged in the dog world. She's become mellower with age, which means she doesn't jump on EVERYONE she sees, and can generally be walked without shoulder dislocation. She's gotten crankier with other dogs, less tolerant of pestering and quicker to snarl a warning at those who come near her toys or treats. I expected less separation anxiety as she aged, but instead she's developed separation depression, which doesn't bode well for the two weeks I'll spend in South Africa in October. She's still so trim and spry that she gets mistaken for a dog half her age, and her vet tells me she's as fit as a working dog. I'm not sure how that happens when I am so very untrim, unspry, and unfit. She's almost absurdly patient with kids, who leap on her, smack her, and pull her fur and tail without repurcussion. She is a total pastor's dog, as evidenced by the fact that a church pew is one of her favorite places to sit in the entire world.
There are children crying over their dog in this movie. How's that for a double shot of heartbreak? I have always cried over dying dogs, even before I had a dog; as a child, I read Where the Red Fern Grows over and over and sobbed every time.
Laila mostly likely has several years ahead of her, but I have to admit, I've started to watch for the first signs of a hitch in her step. For now, though, I'm the only one with an aching back and the beginnings of hearing loss, so I think we're probably okay, as long as I stay away from movies about dying dogs.