Ms. Cranky Pants

Jessie is the sweetest pup on the planet.  She always has been. Everyone says so. 

She loves people and is easygoing around other dogs.  Never a worry to take her in into new situations or crowds where dogs are everywhere.  She goes with the flow and is just an adorable doll.

BUT . . . everyone gets cranky sometimes.

It had been a long day.  I had gone to visit a friend who is one of Jessie’s favorite people (she has many favorite people).  Everyone seems to be her bestie, especially if they happen to be male. 

After a long drive we arrived, and Jessie was able to pee and sniff around. I even let her off-leash for a bit … until she made a valiant go at the cat’s food. Luckily she only got a few kibbles.

The sun was finally shining after months of hiding, so while it was chilly, it was beautiful out.  My friend and I went in search of a bite where we could sit outside with Jessie. Our search turned out to be not so easy.  Our first stop was a pub with picnic tables occupied by several people … and dogs.  Jessie greeted the dogs in her typical friendly way.  After sitting outside quite a while we noticed the line inside and realized service would not be happening any time soon.

We wandered down the block to another little restaurant with outdoor tables set under beautiful blossoming cherry trees.  Service was swifter here but the menu seemed out in left field.  Grouse?  What is that even?  Sweetbreads?  Isn’t that stomach?  Veal?  No to baby lambs.

The place was pleasant though, so we ordered drinks.  Jessie lay on the sidewalk, captivated by passersby and the snow of falling petals from the trees.

There were more little tucked away eateries nearby, so we walked a few blocks to explore.  Nothing appealed, so we returned to the car for a short drive to a place we knew with dog-friendly outdoor seating.

We ordered and Jessie lay sprawled and snoozing.  A guy with a big puppy arrived, also enjoying the pleasant afternoon.  This puppy was BIG.  Like Great Pyrenees big … and in fact, his mix indeed included Pyr.

Jessie went ballistic!

I’ve never seen her like that in my life.  Her lip curled back over her teeth and she snarled in a frightening way.  Luckily, as I held her back, the guy steered his big puppy to safety a few tables away.

Still, it was upsetting and I was embarrassed.  Chester (the big puppy) cautiously eyeballed my raving, looney tunes dog the rest of the time we were there.  A dog being uneasy around Jessie was new, and I struggled to process it.

Talking with my friend, we decided Jessie had just been startled out of her sleepy doze, and I let it go. 

Until it happened again!

This time it was an older lady taking a nice stroll past the picnic tables with a scruffy little poodle. 

Jessie dialed up ballistic, bat-shit scary crazy mode many notches above the incident with Chester.  She lunged so fiercely at the poor sweet lady and her dog, barking savagely with her teeth bared alien-style, it alarmed everyone around.

I was mortified.

We left quickly with Ms. Cranky Pants in tow, everyone happy to see us go, I’m sure.

Later that evening Jessie was conked out in a dog’s deep sleep. I pondered what on earth could have happened to transform my always-sweet, laid-back girl into Cujo.

She could have been hungry … or hangry as the trendy say.

Jessie is very particular about eating on time in the evenings.  On time!  The big hand on the 12 and the little hand on the 6 time.  Anything after and she seems concerned there may be no food coming her way … ever...again.  Thankfully, breakfast is whenever I get up and she goes with the flow there.  This day, dinnertime was a little later, even though she had sampled plenty of small bites at lunch.

Maybe she’d been tired.  It was a long day with a lot of the time in the car. 

Or maybe she didn’t feel well.  Even though she’d been acting fine all afternoon, maybe those few kitty kibbles she stole upset her stomach.

Or perhaps too much stimuli for one afternoon?  That has never a problem. We’ve enjoyed many action-packed days filled with people, dogs, and different situations.  Which leads me to consider ...

She could be getting crotchety with age.  As much as I hate to think about it, she will be turning 10 soon.  Still spunky and active, double digit years for a dog her size means facing the later years of their life span :-(

Maybe it was a combo of things or…

She just got cranky.  People do.  I know I can at times for no good reason.

I love Jessie to pieces, and her sweet nature is only one of a bazillion reasons why. 

A couple days after Cranky Pants day, we were out and about with people, dogs, kids, and lots of activity — no sign of Cujo.  She was her lovable self with tons of admirers.

Guess everyone gets cranky sometimes … even the sweetest dog.


Vonnie Harris is a freelance writer, and operator of Pet Stop Pit Stop pet sitting services in SW Washington.  She resides in Vancouver with Jessie (a yellow Lab), Pedro & Lorali (parrots), and some chicken friends. Vonnie is “the face of Spot” at many Portland-area pet-related events, and the voice of Spot in social media outlets.