You couldn't say Heloise DeVrieze would prefer a pitcher to a belly-itcher. No sir. A good belly-scratching ranks among the very few things my 3-year-old miniature pinscher likes almost as much as she likes food.
She likes a long walk. A deep and undisturbed nap under cover of a heavy blanket. A contemplative gaze out a sun-splashed window. And, oh yeah, bouncing up and down against the patio door while barking madly at squirrels.
One other thing it turns out Heloise enjoys?
A good baseball game.
And that is to my unending surprise.
What you have to understand is that my dog is the 1-foot-tall, 15-pound version of Marley, the incorrigible yellow lab whose movie billing was as the world's worst dog.
Pound-for-pound, Heloise could KO Marley in a minute.
Her record for property damage isn't quite in Marley's range. But me and the Mrs. don't call her "Hell on Wheels" for nothing.
You know that scene where the unruly Retriever drives the obnoxious dog trainer to expletives? As a mere 6-pound pup, Heloise DeVrieze once had an obedience class full of bigger and, certainly, wiser dogs bouncing off walls behind her. Again. And again. And again.
Personality. That's what our trainer called the min-pin's impetuous streak. And he thanked us not to return.
Heloise has not matured.
She doesn't go for walks. She goes for 10-block lunges.
She doesn't just bark at anything and everything. As often as not, she will bark at absolutely nothing at all. Non-stop.
At the slightest hint that the neighborhood cat is about, Heloise will circle the yard in a perfect 180, barking once each turn precisely at the 3 o'clock position.
Same deal if a clump of leaves or clod of snow should happen to look like that clever cat in repose.
The dog can be a bit dense.
So, you'll understand why I anticipated the worst while agreeing to the boss' suggestion that I take the world's most obnoxious min-pin to Sunday's second 2009 installment of Tailz 'Er Waggin' Dog Day of Summer at Modern Woodmen Park, courtesy of the Quad-City River Bandits.
Going in, I pictured a ballgame suspended on account of eternal yipping.
I was certain she would aggravate and agitate every other hound in the house.
I seriously had no doubt mine would be the first dog ever ushered out of the ballpark by a cadre of River Bandits security, who, in turn, would revoke my press pass, along with Doxsie's for suggesting I bring her in the first place.
Nothing like that happened.
I went to a ballgame and found a perfect pet on the other end of the leash.
She walked nice. She quietly enjoyed the tasty biscuits provided by the Bandits and Tailz 'Er Waggin folks. She was delightful with children who asked to pet her and even played well with other dogs.
And there's this: She actually sat in my lap and looked out onto the field. I'm telling you the dog was watching baseball.
"Hell on Wheels?" Hardly.
I mean, she even lay in the front seat on the way out and waited quietly for a train to pass.
I didn't know this dog at all.
Of course, when she got home to her backyard, she started barking like a mad dog at a bug.
I think I'll buy her a Bandits season ticket.
NOTE: The River Bandits will host two more Tailz 'Er Waggin' Dog Days of Summer this season, on July 12 and Aug. 23.