I grew up with a lot of pets and a creative mother, which meant that not only did every dog and cat have a personality assigned to it—each animal also had its own voice, courtesy of my mother. My brother and I so fully engaged in this that, when we asked the dog a question and “he” didn’t answer, we got irrationally impatient with him.
Perhaps all of this culminated in one of my bigger childhood flourishes, when our cat, Chester (of Bunnicula fame?) died. We called him the King and were forced to crown a successor in our dog Billy (of Billy Ray Cyrus fame?). Since Billy had been neutered, however, he would be the Queen. To give the event pomp and circumstance, I served tea and scones in my bedroom and then crowned Billy with a drugstore crown and sang “If We Walked Into My Life” from Mame. While we filmed it.
Anyway. When I met my Gentleman Companion, he had a dog. And for the first few years, I kept trying and failing at finding a personality and a voice for her until last year I started working on my Jennifer Tilly impression and realized that was as good as any. Subsequently, these things have happened.
1. A Homophobe in Our Midst
We decided early on that Stella, our dog, was a homophobe. (She is also a lesbian, as she paws at the cleavage of any female visitors with gusto, but she has yet to reconcile those two facets of her personality.) Whenever she starts barking out the window at nothing, we joke that she is screaming, “Someone! Save me from these gays! Help me!” (Read that to yourself in Jennifer Tilly’s voice.)
She barks out the window a lot.
2. Dead Babies
Since Stella is barren, we’ve taken to calling her three squeaky-toy squirrels her dead babies. She drags them around everywhere, and frequently arrays them around her in a semi circle as if it’s storytime. That she occasionally eats the stuffing from a dead baby only adds fuel to our narrative fire.
3. The Girl in the Mirror
Stella spends a lot of time staring at her reflection in the mirror. We’ve decided she doesn’t realize that it’s her, and instead thinks a friend is looking back at her. “What if we came home one day and the mirror was broken and Stella didn’t have a reflection anymore?” I asked. That led to making the whole situation a Wait Till Helen Comes thing, where the Girl in the Mirror is evil and constantly tells Stella to kill the gays in their sleep. (We get pretty dark.) This also leads me to sometimes have entire conversations between Stella and the Girl in the Mirror in Jennifer Tilly voices. So far the Girl in the Mirror has stayed behind glass, but it’s only a matter of time.