So named in honor of Nellie Johnstone, daughter of William Johnstone who drilled the first commercial oil well in Oklahoma in 1847, which he named Nellie Johnstone #1. What’s the connection between an Oklahoma oil well and a suburban cock-a-poo, you ask? Well the Nellie Johnstone #1 derrick is in Bartlesville, Oklahoma – my wife’s childhood Neverland, and such geographical childhood associations must always be considered when naming pets. Besides, it had a nice ring to it.
When last we met her, Nellie’s biological mother was a calm and amiable 25-pound cocker-spaniel. Her biological father was a foul mouthed, high strung, threatening parisian poodle one-fifth his beloved’s weight. Happily, Nellie possesses her mother’s disposition (and proportions), even as both her maternal and paternal canine traits are evident. She looks best when shaggy and sporting tousled 80’s rocker face and head fur. Think Rod Stewart (Maggie May era). Given the chance, her groomer seems intent on emphasizing streamlined poodle over fluffy cocker-spaniel. Out of the salon, she is embarrassingly sleek and reminds one of a dock-tailed whippet-dachsund mix.
Nellie greets me, Daddy-man, in bed most mornings. Not long enough of leg, she is boosted aboard by my wife, lovely, heroic Mommy-lady who each morning brings me the best part of waking up: Folgers in my cup – heavily cut with Nestle’s French Vanilla Coffee-Mate. Nellie dabs sweetened coffee drips off my finger tip, does a bit of canine coiffing (lick feet, scratch ears, sniff feet, repeat), wrestles sometimes, accepts belly rubs, and dozes between my mostly motionless calves – head resting on one foot or the other. When leg spasms erupt, as they are wont to, she shakes and rolls along with them. But after three or four such temblors, she bails.
Later on, after I’m bathed, dressed, out of bed and at work, she safety-tastes my morning repast, and assumes her ever-vigilant office watchdog posture. She safety-tastes my lunch, escorts me to precisely scheduled bathroom visits, scratches at the slider to take her own comfort-breaks, scratches at the slider to come back inside, and is given a canine treat (not safety-tasted). She frequently rests beneath my desk with her face between my shoes. After dinner, she thoroughly cleans any plate placed by her food and water dishes, after which it seems a waste to run that ol’ dishwasher. However, keeping with tradition and though unnecessary, the plates do receive a second wash.
Nellie moonlights as a watchdog on our back deck and in my ersatz exercise room. On deck-duty, she’s a good chaser – fast, menacing, and a loud barker, keeping bird and squirrel populations in line. She also happens to be a lousy interceptor while in high-speed pursuit. So, the bird and squirrel populations tolerate her warily, chip and chuff at her mockingly, and continue to patronize Mommy-lady’s backyard feeding stations. In the ersatz exercise room, she ensures my wheelchair seat is not suddenly, rudely occupied by some over reaching stranger, while snacking on crumbs left behind from previously safety-tasted breakfasts and lunches. At family gatherings, she herds Grand-boy-babies, wonders why there aren’t more, and feasts on crumbs fallen from the master’s table. Her vices are few. She begs in an endearing fashion, and she doesn’t drink from the commodes. During her free-time, she can be found curled up on the couch, or running leashless alongside her long-boarding and bicycling Brother-boys and Sister-girl.
Yes, Nellie’s a friend of mine.