King Roscoe, His Royal Hineyness

And I, the lowly palace gardener.

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Some people have rat terriers. Me, I have ratty terrors. Well, peekapoo terrors. Well, peekapoo royalty, actually.

On Thanksgiving weekend, 2005, I brought home a tiny little Shizhtu peekapoo puppy that we named Roscoe. I thought he might be a good companion for my husband, someone to keep him company while I was gardening. He was a sweet little complacent puppy—until the day I took him for a walk in the park. We met a woman who said that he looked regal. That changed everything. He proclaimed himself King Roscoe. We, his loyal peasants, declared him His Royal Hineyness King Roscoe The Stinky.

Rub the belly, throw the ball, rub the belly, throw the ball—I’m getting nowhere with the gardening.

HRH King Roscoe made it known to us, by his sad eyes and drooping tail, that he needed a minion while we were away at work, so when we found out there would be a second puppy litter from the same parents, we asked for first choice of the males. Roscoe was on the fence about his little brother. On the one hand, what better minion could he have than a little brother; on the other, he had to share attention…

The new puppy could not have been more different from his older brother. A happy fella, he bounced around more than he walked. He kept his favorite ball close at paw, eyes hopeful that someone would play fetch with him. He soon became known as Bodie, the Court Jester.

The kingdom is small, less than an acre, and the castle a raised ranch. HRH King Roscoe The Stinky rules his kingdom with an iron paw. We bought a 1920s art-deco-style settee that I reupholstered. HRH promptly confiscated it for his throne. A few days later, I was heading out to tend to the palace gardens when HRH stopped me—whining, growling, and pacing nervously. I asked him what was wrong. He led me to his throne, then sat and whined, looking back and forth from the settee to me. Court Jester Bodie had usurped the throne! CJB looked quite pleased with himself, wagging his tail—it even appeared that he was laughing at his king. He had become Bodie the Poopy Pretender!

This displeased His Hineyness greatly. As his loyal servant, I had no choice but to remove the Pretender and allow HRH to retake the throne. But now the Poopy Pretender was upset. I carried Bodie to the couch to cuddle. HRH was incensed! This was no punishment! His Stinkyness left his throne to take the coveted place on my lap. Next came a growl, a countergrowl…the situation was threatening to get out of hand. To distract them both, I called them to come outside with me while I gardened.

Opening the front door, I saw to my left a doe perusing the smorgasbord that is one of the palace gardens. Stinky and Poopy, however, did not see her—they only saw the leaf blowing across the sidewalk to the right of the door. They took off after it, bark-ing and yowling. I looked at the doe. Her expression plainly said, “There’s no way those tick magnets evolved from wolves!” With a disdainful flick of her tail, she turned and walked to the fence. It was only when she leapt over it that the royal court saw her. Charging the fence, they carried on as though they were fighting a great battle. She snorted and loped away, not even bothering to raise her danger-alert white tail. The mighty warriors ran back to me, pleased that they had vanquished the intruder.

We head to the back of the castle: The palace lily garden needs tending. HRH heads to the newly planted bottlebrush buckeye to put his royal “mark” on it. He can’t be bothered to pee on the dead stump five feet away—that would be far too pedestrian for His Stinkyness. I kneel to work in the lily bed. HRH plops himself down in front of me. He would have his belly scratched, and his ears, too, while I’m at it. Bodie runs over with his ball so that I can throw it for him with my free hand. Rub the belly, throw the ball, rub the belly, throw the ball—I’m getting nowhere with the gardening. I resort to giving them each a chew treat to keep them busy. Court Jester Bodie finishes his treat and takes his position at the bottom of the stairs, ever ready to vanquish any errant leaf that might blow across the gardens. His Royal Hineyness King Roscoe The Stinky climbs to the top of the stairs, the perfect vantage point. King of all he surveys, he falls asleep in the sun.

It is good to be king.

I, the lowly palace gardener, finally get to work.


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