I made sure that the Sharpmans’ newly adopted beagle shepherd Gechitzik (it’s Armenian for ‘handsome’) got a big walk around the property…I reckoned he’d enjoy sniffing his new home…before the boys got back from school. I also snuck him out after the boys were asleep, taking him only around the real front of the pool house (where the base path is.) I also got Gechitzik fed and watered and showed him his bed, which was in the living room.
I got into my pajamas, shut off the lights and got into bed…and hoped that the dog would settle down for the night. Of course I was wrong, and he came into the bedroom and scared the shit out of me when I suddenly felt this cold wet thing up against my hand. Of course it was the dog’s nose, but dang those things are cold and wet and they do come as a shock when you’re not expecting them.
Mom had a rule about our dog growing up: she slept in her basket. Dogs slept in baskets, humans slept in beds, and I wasn’t about to break that rule. I also didn’t want Gechitzik to grow too attached to me if he was going to be the boys’ dog. I mean, if they wanted him to sleep with them and Maya thought it was ok, then, fine…I can’t make her follow Mom’s rules. But this first night Gechitzik was on my turf, and my pool house, my rules. So I took him back to his bed, told him to ‘stay’ and went back to the bedroom, closing the door.
Needless to say that didn’t work, and the dog started scratching at the door and whimpering. I was afraid that the boys might hear him, even if they were far away in the main house. (Their rooms both face the back, though.) So I had no choice but to open the door and let Gechitzik in. Lucky for me he didn’t jump up on my bed (beagle shepherds are small for german shepherds but it’s not like you can pick them up and put them back on the floor the way you can a smaller dog), and I got the idea that he just wanted to be in the room with me. I mean, yeah, it was his first night in a strange place and all that…and maybe he had doggie friends in the shelter he missed…and maybe he had no idea what was happening to him…so, yeah, maybe he was lonely. So I moved his bed into the bedroom, next to my bed, and he was curled up and asleep before I was.
The next morning was the big event, and that started with me getting woken up super early by the camera crew.
“We need you in your Christmas pajamas and the dog all ready to go,” Ethan said. “The boys are still asleep, if you can believe it” (it was 8 AM on Christmas Morning, and that is kinda late for a kid to be sleeping – the boys don’t go to school on Armenian Christmas) “although Maya’s already in her makeup and ready to go.” Only in a reality show do the parents get up early on Christmas morning and let the kids sleep. The dog’s the last gift the kids are supposed to open. Oh,” Ethan said, handing me a large red bow, “he’s supposed to come in wearing this. If he’s anything like my dog, though, he’s gonna try and get it off as fast as he can, so don’t put it on until the last minute. And couldn’t you look more tousled? You’re supposed to just have gotten out of bed.” Again, only on a reality show: the mother has to show up at the Christmas tree fully made up while the pool boy has to look “tousled.” Joyce always makes fun of the fact that my hair doesn’t look like shit in the morning. So I messed it up with my fingers until Ethan was pleased with how it looked.
“You know,” I said, “Gechitzik probably should go for a walk before he appears on camera. We don’t want him getting excited and doing his business on TV.” I know for a fact that you can’t see the front of the pool house from the boys’ rooms…the only problem was getting Gechitzik to stay in front of the pool house and not bark at any birds or squirrels that might be passing through.
“Good point about the dog peeing on camera. Tell you what, I’ll text you when the boys come downstairs…with any luck, they’ll be too into their presents to notice a dog barking.”
That sounded like a good idea. Of course that’s when Gechitzik finished sniffing Ethan and the cameraman and started to bark at them instead.
“Shhhh, boy,” I said, trying to get him to shut up. If the surprise got blown, it was probably gonna be my fault…and I didn’t want that happening. Luckily, Gechitzik got what I was trying to tell him, and he quieted down.
“I just hope the dog likes the boys as much as he likes you, Hunter,” Ethan said.
I blushed a little. I gotta admit, I was finding it a little uncomfortable how much the dog was bonding with me when he was supposed to be the boys’ pet.
I took the dog out to the front of the pool house and, luckily, he figured out what was expected of him and did his business while keeping quiet. I was impressed: german shepherds are supposed to be real smart…but beagles are pretty dumb (in a super cute way)…so maybe Gechitzik has a shepherd brain inside that mostly beagle head he’s got.
Then I had to sit around with the dog waiting for the text from Maya telling me that I should bring Gechitzik over to the main house. I gotta admit I was getting pretty nervous sitting there…I mean, I was afraid of going to the bathroom, just in case the text came through while I was…unavailable.
I don’t think Maya appreciated how uncomfortable I was, and I ended up sitting there with the dog for an hour until the text came. I tied the bow on Gechitzik’s collar, said “let’s go, boy”…and we headed over to the main house. I went in the side door and took the ‘surprise’ route I took on my birthday, through the dining room and into the hall.
When I opened the door to the hall, where the Christmas tree was, Gechitzik went a little crazy and pulled the leash clean out of my hand.
“Merry Christmas,” I said. “Surprise.”
I wasn’t sure after I said it that I was supposed to have said it before Maya and Robert. I didn’t want the boys to get the idea that Gechitzik was a present from me.
“Merry Christmas,” Maya said. “Your father and I thought it was time you two had a pet.”
“So you got us a dog??,” Matteo asked.
“Right here,” I said. By this time Gechitzik was sniffing around the torn wrapping paper on the floor, and eventually got around to sniffing Jacob, who was a little shy at first.
“Just let him sniff your hand,” Robert said. “He’s very friendly.”
“Super friendly,” I added.
“What kind of a dog is he?,” asked Matteo, still keeping his distance. It wasn’t until I saw the dog next to the boys that I realized how big he was.
“Beagle shepherd,” I answered.
“Half beagle, half german shepherd,” Maya explained a little repetitively.
By this point, he was letting Jacob pet him, while Matteo was still a few steps back.
“Go ahead,” Maya said. “He won’t bite you.”
Y’all gotta remember that all this was being filmed for television, and maybe that was making Matteo a little self-conscious, although he’s pretty used to having his life being filmed.
“What’s his name?,” Jacob asked, still petting him a little carefully.
“Gechitzik,” me, Maya and Robert said together.
Jacob looked totally nonplussed. (In his defense, it is a pretty lame name for a dog.)
“It’s Armenian, isn’t it, Mom?,” Matteo asked.
“Yes,” Maya assented.
“It means ‘handsome’,” said Mrs. Bedrossian, who, of course, was there opening presents with the family, but I wasn’t sure how much she’d been briefed about the dog. Or if she even liked dogs. She certainly wasn’t running over to pet the newest addition to the family.
I thought that Matteo might be willing to get closer to the dog if I were there, so I stepped up (yeah, got in the shot in my Christmas pajamas and ‘tousled’ hair) and of course Gechitzik jumped on me. That turned out pretty cool, since Matteo thought it was hilarious and he came over and let his new dog sniff his hand. As though on cue, Gechitzik clumsily jumped from me to Matteo, with his paws on Matteo’s shoulders. It was pretty dang adorable, as y’all can tell from how it looked on TV.
So that’s how Gechitzik became part of the Sharpman family. The boys decided they liked him (I was kinda worried), and he decided he liked the boys, and there was some arguing about whose bedroom the dog was going to sleep in. Turns out Maya was like Mom and made a strict no dogs in the bed rule, but there was still Gehitzik’s bed and it had to go somewhere. I think Gechitzik is great, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t want him sleeping in the pool house on a regular basis. He’s supposed to be the boys’ dog, and, after what Keaton and Joyce said, I didn’t want to get stuck being the dog sitter in addition to my other duties at the Sharpmans’.
Lucky for everyone that didn’t look it was going to be necessary. Yeah, Gechitzik gets all excited when he sees me, but he also seems very fond of the boys, who compromised by having Gechitzik’s bed placed in the hallway between their doors. That made everyone happy, including, I think, Gechitzik. He slept through his first night quite peacefully, it seemed. The next morning, the boys actually argued over who was going to get to feed the dog, and I finally worked out a compromise that one of them would be in charge of Gechitzik’s dry food and the other would be in charge of the food in the can (as we were instructed by the shelter, we feed the dog a mixture.) The boys even wanted Gechitzik to come in the Maybach when I drove them to school. I said no there the last thing I wanted was to have a dog piss all over a $150,000 car, so Gechitzik stayed behind and (according to Belen) whimpered until I got back.
Then I took him outside to let him run around, and, yeah, since it was inevitable, mark his territory. I was going to meet with Pancho later in the day to decide where Gechitzik was going to do his business. Then I did the thing I was waiting to do ever since Gechitzik picked me out at the shelter: see if he could catch a frisbee.
So I got him to fall back a little and I threw the frisbee in his direction.
No, he didn’t jump in the air and catch it like you see some dogs do…but he did pick the frisbee up when it landed and ran with it back to me. So he can play fetch.
And we had a lot of days together ahead of us for him to learn to catch a flying plastic disc in his mouth.