The Best Gift

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I have a teacup Chihuahua named Cally and she is a riot.

She is black with a white diamond on her chest, which she wears both proudly and appropriately. She only weighs five pounds -- something she hasn't quite grasped the concept of just yet.

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Being named after a famous movie character surely contributed to Callahan's, aka Cally's, self-perceived celebrity.

Nor has she accepted the fact that she is a dog.

She is as cocky and feisty as dogs come. She could quite possibly be part rooster and part cat.

She doesn't walk, she saunters.

She doesn't eat in her room (the laundry room) because she doesn't like the cold tile. She brings her food out, piece by piece and eats it on the carpet in a display of defiance and inefficiency. I've stepped on more crumbled pieces of Purina dog food than I care to recall.

On rare occasions, she is allowed to sleep in bed with me, an event that she milks to the very last second.

I wake up and begin getting ready for work, while she stays under the covers. What happened to dogs being attentive and loyal?

When it is nearing time to leave, I'll call her and she'll gradually and deliberately remove herself from the covers -- a process that takes much longer than it would for most young children. She then slowly sashays toward her room near the kitchen where unfalteringly she'll look up at me as if to say, "You may leave now."

Last week I spent five minutes rousing her from under the covers. When she finally peeked her head out, she yawned and remained where she was. I called her more sternly, which resulted in a slow crawl-like movement and some stretching. This was to be done on her time, not mine. She made sure I knew that.

I generally go home for lunch, let Cally out of her room and open the window blinds. In ritualistic fashion, the sun dances into the living room and greets my dog, who just as reliably splays herself across the sunny patch of carpet.

She sunbathes. And she honestly believes the sun shows up just for her.

Nothing is generally worthy of departure from her sunny spot, unless a treat is involved. Visitation requests, fetching efforts and displays of obedience are postponed indefinitely.

If I want interaction with my dog, I end up next to the sunny spot on the floor. I don't know when I lost the ability to command respect from her. Frankly, I'm not sure I ever had it.

While other family dogs I've had were as loyal and well-behaved as one could hope for, Cally has more individuality and stubbornness than any other dog I've ever played with.

I guess I should've expected that from the beginning, though. Her real name is Callahan, as in Detective Harry Callahan -- Clint Eastwood's gristly character from the "Dirty Harry" movies. Naming her after such a character (one of my favorites of all time) surely contributed to her self-perceived celebrity. I realize that in hindsight.

Despite her independence, she is the sweetest little gift and friend I could ever hope for.

And boy, is she ever entertaining.

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