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A very merry unbirthday to Zu and 2

When my personal children were little, we had several Disney soundtracks on LP (that’s vinyl for any hipsters who might be reading this) — as well as Mickey Mouse’s Mousercise, which we did daily, after Mama got her time to do Jane Fonda’s original workout, also on LP. You had to stop mid-workout and turn it over. But that’s another story for another day. This is about unbirthdays — which comes from one of our favorite songs on the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack, “A Very Merry Unbirthday!” I’ve been hearing it in my head for several days now.

For this is a big unbirthday week for us — or mini-birthdays. Whatever you want to call them, Zuzu is 9 months old today, Little Miss Sunshine (also known as Annabelle) turned an unfathomable 6 months Monday and Sweetness in Miniature, Sylvia Frances, will be 1 month tomorrow. And she’s actually not so mini anymore; just like her cousin Annabelle, she’s on track to be 10 pounds at 1 month.

In German Shepherd years, 9 months is the Terrible Twos. For big little Zuzu, though, it’s more the freakazoid, “I’m suddenly scared of cameras — but not the vacuum!” years. Human ankles, feet and forearms are chew toys, and her hot-pink Gaiam time-out meditation mat is a challenge: Just how many strips can she tear it into? But we really can’t complain; she’s never chewed a shoe and only once nibbled on a chair (and Tess had done it first, so it was already damaged), and she can entertain herself by throwing, then chasing a ball. She loves everybody, but most especially her boy, our grandson, Jude. They have a fort in the bamboo and major-league fun.

Zuzu is currently scared of cameras, so she had to be caught off guard for this photo.

An eight-day week of three-dog nights

Grandparental duties don’t just apply to human children. We often keep our four-legged grandkids when the kiddos travel.And instead of just stepping over dog toys, we often find ourselves stepping over dogs who have turned into wind-up toys.

But at the Lollypop house, things have been hopping – we’re keeping granddog Wrigley for a week. Since the last time Wrigley and Zuzu spent any real time together, Zuzu has probably tripled in size. (Tess and Wrigley have had some big-girl private play dates.) Wrigley was taken aback at first and cowered in dismay, but Zuzu just wanted to play, which translated into an almost 24-hour barkfest (except for nap- and bedtime) — the higher-pitched, ever-so-annoying, “Please play, please play, please play” hysterical barking that makes you scream, or want to.

When Wrigley’d have enough, she’d growl, then Tess the enforcer would jump in. This happened, oh, probably 42 times the first day and a half.

Tess looks like a princess, but she can be quite the behavior cop.

By now, it’s annoying for a different reason. Oversize Zuzu (pushing 80 pounds at 8 months) and 25-pound Wrigley play until they crash, and Tess mostly ignores them, unless they all run outside (doggy doors are lifesavers) to bark at some potential danger Tess has sensed or to run like maniacs (all three of them) around the backyard. The young girls mostly play under my feet or around my legs — the snapping and growling becomes almost background noise after awhile. Almost.

Zuzu swats Wrigs squarely on top of the head, so Wrigley bites Zuzu’s face. They think this is fun. Girly they are not. Fortunately, they do nap a lot. And by Sunday afternoon, they’re having a blast most of the time. Tess is digging the break from having her ankles eaten constantly. (Zuzu’s in the terrible 8- to 12-months, which are basically the Terrible Twos in dog years.)

But sleeping through three-dog nights is an adventure, too. Wrigley, as always, sleeps with us, under the covers. She’s a cozy little space heater (which John finds a bit problematic in the heat, but it’s her routine — and Zuzu-free safety zone). About 2 a.m., Zuzu, who usually sleeps on our feet at the end of the bed, decides to claim her spot. Fortunately Tess prefers to sleep en guarde in the living room these days and stays put.

Until 5 a.m., when for some reason she decides to poke me in the face. I tell her, “No, it’s the weekend. I can sleep.” (Actually, I never get up at 5 these days, so I don’t know what Tess was thinking.) A bit later, I wake up to Tess and Zuzu staring me in the face, kind of like horses looking over a fence.

I tell them, “No,” shut my eyes and try to doze off. It’s hard enough to sleep when you’re being watched, but suddenly Wrigley comes flying out from under the covers, pins me by my hair, and sticks her nose in my left ear, which she starts licking wildly. They all think it’s quite amusing.

We won’t discuss what happens when she tackles John’s head.

Oh, well. Up before 7 on the weekend never killed anyone. But it can make you pretty grumpy, until the third cup of coffee or so.

Tonight’s the third try — strike or charm remains to be seen. But we’ll make it through. Eight days a week, we love them.

Zuzu and Wrigley take a break from a wrestling match.