Every Wednesday we had a housekeeper. Mrs. Mangor was Norwegian, tall, and strong, who hauled her buckets, mops, and rags around the house, while wearing a dress! I’d see her upstairs, downstairs, on the stairs, and I always scrammed to keep out of her way.
When Mom and Dad went on trips alone, Mrs. Mangor often stayed with us kids. She introduced me to cheese on toast for breakfast.
“During the war,” she said with a thick accent, “I was young. Food was rationed. We ate cheese. When the Nazis were coming to each house, I take my cheese and toast and hide in the cupboard.” I ate my cheese on toast in silence, thinking of the little girl hiding from Nazis in the cupboard.
Even though we had a housekeeper, David was in charge of emptying all the garbage cans. One Wednesday, Daisy, our Brittany, stole David’s job and tossed the upstairs bathroom garbage cans all over. As I hopped up to the landing I saw waded up toilet paper, Kleenex, and bloody sanitary napkins scattered about. Mrs. Mangor was bent over picking up the mess and became unstitched when she saw me. She cornered me in the hallway.
“You must wrap these in bag, like this,” she said as she crammed the bloody pad in a little pink bag. “Daisy leave these all over the house. She likes blood. You must wrap and throw away in garbage where she can’t get them,” Mrs. Mangor declared.
“They aren’t mine!” I pleaded. “I don’t have a period, I’m only nine!”
Mrs. Mangor mumbled something in Norwegian and walked away. I picked up Daisy’s mess with my finger tips, saying to myself that I was in no hurry to have a period and have to deal with this junk.
Daisy was psychotic. Not only did she eat blood from sanitary napkins, she also licked the butter off pancakes and then buried them in the snow, the dirt, or whatever she found to dig in. She was storing up for leaner days, which was cute, but she was not a well-behaved dog. She pretended to be, especially when she rode shotgun in the front seat of the Mercedes. Mom would say, “For cripes sake, you’d think she was the Queen of England the way she holds her head high and looks down her nose at me.” Whenever I had to go somewhere with Mom, Daisy called shotgun.
If you came into our house, it was customary that Daisy gave you a proper welcome; her nose in your crotch. If she approved of your smell, she mounted your leg and humped you. She was confused. When she had surgery to remove her female factory she assumed something was added. It was embarrassing to Mom, who demanded that her children behave (we never shoved our noses in a visitor’s crotch), but Daisy was ill versed in sexual harassment.
After her signature greeting, Daisy would nudge the hand that held your milk, coffee, or gin and tonic so that you’d have to set it down in order to pet her. There were six people in that house who neglected to train that dog. I think all of us tried, a little, but soon tired of the tedious task.
And then there were the mounds of poop, which surrounded the pool area. Nobody wanted to be on poop scoop detail, especially me. I always forgot. Daisy liked to play “catch me if you can” and we’d chase her around the pool, hopping over her squishy, brown piles. Inevitably, someone always stepped on one and that someone was Dalene – in bare feet.
But sometimes it was good to have a psychotic Brittany that liked to run. We’d tie her up to our bicycle handles and she’d run like the wind and pull us along the sidewalk. When it was my turn, my bike always fell over. So, David had a brilliant idea. I held tightly to her leash as she ran along Prospect Street hauling me behind on the skateboard. The cracks and welts in the sidewalk left over from the earth quake made it a bumpy ride, and more often than not I flew off the skateboard and skipped across the pavement. Daisy kept running with her leash flying out behind her.
“Daisy, come!” We hollered. What a joke. She never minded. She moseyed home when she was finished exploring, or we’d have to hunt her down because of a phone call from an angry neighbor lady threatening to call the pound because Daisy had destroyed her flower garden.
Every time we had visitors for a weekend at the lake, Daisy proved to be a great hostess and an Alpha bitch to their dog. She gained the dog’s trust and it followed her into the woods. Three or four hours later Daisy loped back, smiling and alone. Our visitors would ask us, “Where’s our dog?” We’d all look at each other, shrug our shoulders, and mumble that we had no idea. It is said that Homo sapiens are the only creatures in the animal kingdom that can laugh. Not so. Daisy could.
To save face, we’d all pile into the car and holler out the windows for the lost dog. We’d drive a few miles, stop, get out, and holler some more. Several miles up the dirt road the lost dog padded out of the bushes, tired, dirty, and confused. Daisy disliked visitors taking over her territory. She was a bird dog, but rather than enter the woods to hunt and point, she preferred to lose and abandon.
To be continued . . .