Dith & Dred

December 6, 2011 | My Jottings

I’ve heard it said that the older people get, the weirder they get, and I’ve known a few elderly folks whose eccentricities would support that theory. (I think my daughters secretly believe I am proof of this.)

We have two miniature German schnauzers who are getting stranger and more eccentric with every passing day.

Edith and Mildred look alike in many ways, but the similarities stop there. A long time ago I wrote a fascinating post entitled “Indentured Schnauzitude” about their differences here. You do not want to miss that one, I assure you.

Sara has always given inexplicable nick-names to our animals. One prime example is when she decided our long-deceased schnauzer Winnie should be called Niffery Yoder. She also thought Beauteous Montoya fit Winnie well, which, er, might be a stretch. Lately Sara has taken to calling our dogs Dith and Dred, and occasionally Dithy and Dreddy. When Sara walks in the back door the dogs go nuts, barking happily and dancing around her legs. Mildred lifts her snout and sounds out a guttural greeting, “Rrroooo!” that I can imitate quite well. I actually think I sound so much like her when I’m doing my own guttural “Rrroooo!” that if you had your eyes closed you’d have a hard time telling which one was Millie and which one was me.

Both dogs have annoying and unhealthy fixations that seem to become more firmly entrenched as each year passes. For the last few weeks, Edith expectantly stares at Sara’s iPhone and/or my iPad any time she sees them, whether they’re in hand or sitting on a table. Sara has shown Edith this one too many times, and now Edith will sit and stare for up to 30 minutes, patiently waiting for it to come on again. Edith also loves the Christian comedian Tim Hawkins, and when she sees my iPad she begs for me to show her one of his videos. Here’s one she likes a lot. I’m completely serious.

And this is a recent picture of Edith, with her one ear sticking up in the air as it always does. She’s sitting on our living room window seat, waiting for any sign of movement outside. She gave up barking at falling leaves years ago, but is still on alert for any squirrel, deer, person walking their dog, or the postal carrier. No one will ever come near our house without their arrival being hysterically announced. We sometimes have to coax her away from the window because we want Dithy to have a normal schnauzer life, and we worry that her obsessions will completely take over.

But Edith is a good dog. At almost 10 years old, she is loyal and affectionate, fairly obedient, and amazingly patient with Mildred.

We are convinced that Millie has some developmental disabilities. She has Narcissistic Disorder, Kleptomania and a mild case of Paranoia thrown in for good measure. She’s been raised in the same balanced, exemplary and ΓΌber-healthy home as Edith, but her deficits are numerous. When these doggy girls get their daily rawhide chew stick, Millie gobbles hers down and then lurks opportunistically at Edith’s shoulder, ready to pounce and steal hers. Edith sighs and lets her have it. When we see this happening, of course we pry the stick from Millie’s jaws and give it back to Edith, but the same thing happens again. Sometimes Edith goes into the office and asks me with her eyes to shut the door so she can enjoy her stick in peace.

Millie inhales her food. Edith savors. Millie paws at you incessantly and looks into your eyes with a pitiful and desperate longing that says, “Please notice me. Please pet me every minute of the day. Please bolster my sagging schnauzer esteem. Please. Pleeeeease. Pleeeeeeeaaasssee.” If you think there is no way a miniature German schnauzer can say all this with one paw and a set of brown eyes, you haven’t met Dred. That is exactly what she says, and more.

Edith is comfortable with herself. She loves to be petted and crooned to, but she’s content to curl up beside any of the humans in this house and just be. She has no gaping neediness that seeks to be filled. She’s at peace with herself and her world. (Unless her world happens to have a rodent scurry into view, then the schnauzer shrieking begins…)

Here’s a photo of five-year old Mildred sitting on “her” leather recliner in the den. If you click to enlarge the photo and study it carefully, you’ll see the marginally forlorn expression, the slightly hunched posture, the one side of her little black schnauzer lips drawn back in uncertainty.

Poor, poor pitiful Dred.

Do any of your pets have quirky psychological behaviors or grave diagnoses? Or do they have interesting facial expressions? How about their thoughts? Can you tell what they’re thinking sometimes?

Don’t answer that.

Dith and Dred might be a little out of the ordinary, but I’m willing to bet there are pet owners out there who could share some of their pet’s cute/unusual antics with us here. Or, do you have silly nick-names for your pets?

What is your animal like?


  1. Ganeida says:

    lol You just know my cats are unusual! Dearest refers to Marlow as * Green Eyes* ~ not because his eyes are that colour; they aren’t, but because he has such serious jealousy issues! He gives Kirby such a hard time Kirby has taken to peeing in the water dish!!!!! Now what were you saying about those schnauzers?

    Kirby is very vocal; not loud but he talks all. the. time. And yes, we always know what he is saying. πŸ™‚ Mind you we raise a few eyebrows because we always talk back ~ but it’s rude to ignore someone who is trying to have a conversation with you! ;P

    We’ve discussed the prayer issues previously. My cats love Jesus too! πŸ˜€

  2. Just Julie says:

    Ohhhh, poor Kirby! How traumatized must one be to start peeing in one’s water dish!? Yikes. I just knew you would understand the whole human-to-animal communication thing, Ganeida. Do you use funny voice intonations too? We do…. Sometimes we clench our teeth and lower our voices and talk in stentorian tones to the dogs. They seem to get it, but humans? Not so much. You do though! Yes, you have Christian Cats and we have Hallelujah Hounds. xxoo

  3. Ganeida says:

    Hm. Smoochy~moo voices? Definitly!:D

  4. Just Julie says:


  5. Larry says:

    I am for Quiet Hallelujah Hounds πŸ™‚

  6. Just Julie says:

    I vote for that Lar! I’ll tell Edith and Mildred about your wishes and see what happens…. πŸ™‚

  7. Roberta says:

    Julie, I wish to include Francis Xavier (aka Frank, and a zillion other names given on the spur of any moment), a brown Tabby adopted about 16 years ago from neighbors who related he and several other kittens were thrown onto their lawn. His sister(Emma Marie) and other family felines have long ago departed to Cat Heaven.
    Frankie was identified as “melodramatic” by the vet at his very first check-up, and has proved to deserve the description. Very vocal, he tends to demand what he wants, which is mostly more food, almost all day long. He is not obese! Frank demands to go out in his harness and leash, when we are upstate, and takes the lead as to where we will walk with him. His unfortunate habit is peeing on the furniture when we are upstate, and he experiences bouts of anxiety. He refrains from this habit in the city. I have learned to live with this, but my husband has yet not to mind. Aren’t our hearts bigger for the love of our sweeties?

  8. Just Julie says:

    I loved reading about Frank, Roberta! A vocal, melodramatic cat who likes to be walked with harness and leash is hysterical…wish I could see him. I agree with you 100% — our lives are so enriched by our pets. Thank you for telling us about Francis Xavier… πŸ™‚

  9. Kay says:

    You have met, I think, Jenny and Finn…our ummm, shall we say “special needs” Dachshunds. Not to say that there is anything functionally wrong with either of them. No, their need is ME…If I am nearby, all is well in doxie world. When I am away…there is much wailing and gnashing of doggie teeth. When I am on an overnight, there are choruses of dog wailing at 2, 3 and 4 in the morning. It starts, I am told, with Jenny…a very soft and low whoooooo, then Finn joins in with an ear pircing Yipe, Yipe, Yipe type of yodel. This continues until a “SHUT UP!” is issued. They stop immediately, but, it appears, the emotion continues to well in Jenny’s breast until she cannot contain it, and again, “whooooo…”
    On most days, they are able to come to work with me…a perk of working in a family business, I guess. On the occasional days that I need to leave them at home, I can hear them already wailing by the time I reach the garage.
    I have told the neighbors not to panic when they hear this…there is no emergency, only a couple of broken weiner-dog hearts.
    There are, of course, hundreds of other notable oddities to their behavior, but this is the oddest of the odd.
    As to nicknames, Finn is just “Finn” or “Little Man”. Jenny is “Jenny Blue” (because she sings the blues) which morphs into “Bitty Boo” which morphs into “Boopers”
    …We love them to pieces.

  10. Just Julie says:

    Finn and Jenny have separation anxiety to the max! It must feel nice to be so loved, though. πŸ˜‰ And I love how your nicknames evolve…only a dog lover would understand that Boopers is the logical morph from Jenny Blue. Sara used to call Winnie “Yodes” – which had evolved from Niffery Yoder. I know you understand… Thanks for sharing Kay!

  11. Pat says:

    LOL! Loved the blog about your two youngest children. We have a nickname for Jasper (or I should say Shara does) and it’s Satan’s Spawn. Not exactly the words I would use to describe him, but I’m definitely in the minority there. Unfortunately, he’s loaded with annoying habits, but the biggest is his huge, gaping need for attention every second of every minute of every hour of every day. How I can love him passionately is one of life’s mysteries…

  12. Just Julie says:

    When I met him I thought Jasper was darling, feisty, and a dog who knows what he wants in life. Satan’s Spawn is a little strong for a nickname for such a tiny pooch! πŸ™‚

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