Writing about the bro-fest we had this weekend sparked an idea, albeit somewhat melancholy, for my next blog post about Dorian’s relationships with his little beardie friends. I mentioned the funny dynamic between Dorian and Irwin, who after an initial wariness has no compunction about going after that big lizard. But Dorian’s been a friend of beardies since I got my first bearded dragon back in 2007. I acquired Ulysses as a rescue just as I did Dorian. I named her that because I drove from Louisville to Toledo to get her, hence her Illianic eponym (I’m also a huge James Joyce fan). She was renamed Ulee after I discovered she was in fact a boy, a common occurrence among reptiles as her previous owner called her Draco, ultra-masculine and cliché as that is. The trick is to check the hemipores, which I knew, (the d-bag in Toledo did not). Dorian and Ulee became fast friends. They loved sitting together looking out the window in my DeKalb apartment, staring down at the peasants below. Dorian once accidently stepped on her as he moved from one end of the couch to the other, and spunky little Ulee got so mad! She flared her beard and went right after Dorian as if to say, “Hey, watch it!” Sadly, when she passed away, we were in India, which has made the grieving process so difficult, even until today. With us not there, and only the petsitter to visit for the next week and half, Dorian couldn’t understand what happened; he didn’t know why she was gone, but it must have been my fault. He would walk back to her room, look at her empty tank, and headbob at me. I held him once in front her tank and explained how she had passed away and wasn’t coming home and how it was OK to be sad. He licked her tank and looked for her, it was heart-wrenching. I’m tearing up just thinking and writing about it. Even now, it’s still very difficult for me to talk about without a lump in my throat the size of a softball. It took a long time for me to get another beardie. I found Boudicca much the same way, as an unwanted pet in search of a forever home on craigslist.
I drove from DeKalb to Springfield (a 2.5 hour trip) to get her stopping in Bloomington on the way home where she met her new mom (my wife) for the first time. Boudicca was an orange citrus, such striking and beautiful colors; Ambi fell in love with her instantly. Dorian wasn’t quite so sure. It took a pugnacious scrap with Dorian to earn his love and respect. She was sitting on the sofa with Dorian on top, where after a mighty headbob from Dorian let her know her place, that fiery little chubbster shot right up the arm to the top cushion to give that big iguana a piece of her mind. The wife was close enough to grab the spunkster before a hairy situation occurred. Whew! Dorian eventually acquiesced and would learn to cuddle on the couch together even more than he did with Ulee. Dorian would often use her as a pillow, as in the video below.
My favorite Boudicca/Dorian story though is this: we had discovered that Irwin had quite the red hot attraction for our little Miss Muffin, despite her (quoting Dr. Nye‘s assessment) ‘round’ frame. One night, I’m at home in Urbana with Boudicca on the couch and Irwin on my shoulder. I’m playing Mario Kart on the Wii when Irwin starts head headbobbing and stomping in Bou-chan’s direction. Dorian climbs out of his enclosure walks up on the floor, and headbobs up at Irwin, in a very big brother “stay away from my kid-sister, punk” sort of way. Then he climbs up to the top of the couch and positions himself in-between Irwin and Boudicca, headbobbing at Irwin once again. Irwin, wisely, did not respond. Though I may never get another beardie as I miss Ulee and Boudicca just too much, it’s good to know that I were to, Dorian would be the best big brother any lizard could have.