I’ve been trying to write, but the weather keeps changing. Every time the weather changes, the dogs go hyper. They become the ultimate distraction. I know, I know, I’m not supposed to liken them to human, not supposed to give them human attributes, but, come on, admit it, we all do it. I do love our dogs, I also hate them. Whoever said that a dog’s intelligence is almost equal to that of a three-year-old human was pretty close. Except for the not speaking English part, dogs do remind me of human toddlers.
Our boxer is the one with ADD. He can sleep for 18 hours and then bounce off the walls for 18. It’s annoying. It’s also funny because, yes, he literally bounces. All four legs ramrod straight, bounce up and down like a child on a pogo stick. Since he also thinks he should continue to grow and become a Great Dane – his head comes to my waist when he stands on four legs, he’s as tall as me (5’3″) when he stands on two legs – Mr. Pogo Stick can bounce to amazing heights. This is fine and cute when he’s in our fenced in backyard and bounces up above our four foot high bushes to startle the golfers walking past our fence line (The 16th hole is directly behind us.). It is not fine or cute when he does this on our walks, wrenching my fingers in the leash, crashing down into me, stomping on my feet. I really need reinforced steel-toed combat boots…and, possibly, body armor…
I’ve tried to get hubby to come on our walks, help control the 90 pound toddler who has to investigate every movement and sound and fire ant hill, perhaps help protect me from the sometimes odd folk I pass while walking down the road to the pretty little park, spend some time with the wife, ya know? Instead, he bought me a clip on your belt can of pepper spray…um, okaayyy…aw, hell, it’s kinda sweet, in a weird way….after all, he does know he married a woman who collects blades and keeps her double-headed battleaxe under her side of the bed…
Hubby often lets me fend for myself; I basically grew up in bars and have been a bar waitress most of my life. Nothing too awful ever happened; and I was off the night one drunk shot up the bar. Hubby was glad for that. He could totally see me going for the gun and then pistol-whipping the guy for shooting at MY “girls” if I had been there that night. He has yet to bail me out of jail and would like to keep it that way. He did stop me from beating up one drunk bitch who kicked me in the ass when we were playing pool one night. He said he saw me whip around, pool stick in hand, and the look on my face…well, he grabbed me and “escorted” me out of the bar. He says I get “crazy angry” and he figures it’s safer to just whisk me away from situations. And I don’t even drink! Sheesh!
Our other dog is a mutt, part beagle, collie, terrier; she’s cute in a homely kind of way. She’s 45 pounds lighter and much smaller than Ranger the boxer and she completely dominates him. I walk them on a doubled leash, connected together. They trot slightly ahead of me; the best way to describe it is that it’s like holding the reins to a two-in-hand buggy and I actually have better control with them connected. Yo-yo is quite well-trained, Ranger, not so much. If he gets loose, he runs and will not come back when called or whistled for. Yo-yo will fetch him and try to herd him back, which doesn’t work very well; he’s too fast. So, with her on the other end of the leash, if I trip and drop it, she will plant herself, all 45 pounds of muscle and barrel chest digging in while Ranger tries to take off for the wonderful busy road with all those pretty fast-moving cars dashing along it. Yo-yo will lower her head, choking while Ranger pulls for freedom, and glare at me until I pick myself up and grab the leash again.
I am so glad we no longer live in the desert where a clumsy woman walking a dog like Ranger would be a death sentence, or, at the very least, a cactus encounter. And don’t get me started on what Ranger might have done if he spotted a rattlesnake, scorpion or coyote! It’s bad enough being yanked into trees or pulled off my feet to be dragged through a fire ant hill…oh, it’s okay, we’re doing much better now. He’s still distracted by anything, but I’ve learned to stay alert! Fewer bruises that way.
Growing up, I didn’t like dogs. Granted, there was only one nice dog in our neighborhood – a big loving black New Foundland. He was a sweetie. And Melissa’s dog was okay; he pretty much ignored me and I was cool with that. But all the other dogs I knew when I was a kid were horrible beasts. As an adult, I now understand it was their humans who were at fault for not training them properly. I’m proud to say all our dogs that hubby and I have adopted were all sweet and well-behaved to humans and other animals. They were not Hurricane Maryann or any type of Poodlepuff for that matter, or Chiayowyowchompers or yappyYorkies or ankle-biting bits of fluff. We owned DOGS – as in medium to big and we were responsible pet owners who trained such dogs to behave.
Hurricane Maryann was my best friend Nancy’s mother’s dog. In her defense, Maryann was locked in the basement all day while Gwen was at work and Nancy was at school. She was a gray poodle who never got any grooming and only wanted attention from Gwen. Gwen would get home, say hi to us, then close the kitchen door and then open the basement door. Nancy and I would stay out in the living room. We could hear Maryann racing up the stairs, barking louder than a locomotive, and then the crazed animal would hit the kitchen door, growling insanely and actually rattling the thick hardwood in its hinges. She would repeat her attack on the door until something Gwen did stopped her. I never knew what it was – maybe Gwen would feed her or pet her? Through it all, we could hear Gwen chattering away or singing while her demented poodle barked and growled and gnawed on the kitchen door. I rarely saw Maryann, just a glimpse as she charged at my throat before Gwen slammed the kitchen door shut and told her, “Oh, sweetie, that’s Eileen, you know her, now stop that. Here, have a cookie.” Yep, not sure who was the truly fruit loop there, but I loved Gwen, she was more a mother to me than my own mom most of the time. Just had to be careful if Maryann was loose…
Another neighbor had a Standard white Poodle, and white carpets. Same situation except the guy never locked the dog away when we visited and this dog was silent and deadly. He could fly across that white carpet unseen and be snapping at your legs, waist or hands before you knew he was on you. And the owner would say, “Oh, he’s just saying hello.” Then the dog would happily pee all over us while we dripped blood onto that somewhat white carpet…
One friend owned a Chiayowrat. Ugly, nasty, noisy rat-dogs. It never shut up and it loved to bite. And, again, the stupid owner would just wave off the behavior. Pardon me while I drop-kick your pet monster into next Tuesday on my way to the Emergency Room…
I was walking to the park with my three year old son one day and a cocker spaniel came charging across the road. He went straight for my baby. I scooped up Brian and the dog actually started climbing me to get to my boy. With Brian on my shoulders, clutching my hair, head, throat, I kicked and screamed at that dog. Luckily, I was wearing jeans – lots of bruises on my legs, but his teeth didn’t break my skin. A lady in a bathrobe wandered across a yard and shouted for her poochie to come home. She didn’t come get him, she didn’t obey my screams to come get him, she just stood there, watching her dog try to rip my jeans off in his attempt to rip open my son’s throat. Stupid f@cking human…
We were a cat family. My parents, crazy as they were, loved animals, but especially cats. So it was a real surprise when they let my little sister adopt a beagle puppy. We must have been around ten and eleven at the time. Christine promised all the usual things a kid promises, and, of course, never followed through. And none of us had ever owned a dog, so we didn’t know how to train her. Heidi was cute as a puppy but a terror. She chewed up everything. Our older sister almost killed her by kicking her downstairs after finding the puppy had chewed up all Mary Lou’s fancy high heeled shoes. She was almost impossible to house-train. I’d cover the kitchen floor with newspapers and she would still do her doggie-dos in the living room. Yeah, me. It fell to me to potty-train the puppy, feed the puppy, get beaten on when the puppy misbehaved…Our parents and Christine loved that dog, me? Nope, not a lick.
So, yeah, I pretty much hated dogs.
Then, early in our marriage, hubby decided we needed a dog. He had grown up with dogs and liked them. He didn’t think he liked cats, but our Missy changed that. At fifteen, Missy was a furry fluffy tabby grande dame. Her favorite spot to lounge was around a man’s shoulders, purring softly in his ear. What man, or sixteen year old boy in hubby’s case, could resist such feminine wiles? Hubby married me, knowing my cats were part of the deal, but he wanted a dog.
I said okay reluctantly, wishing there was a dog breed that was more like a cat. And, dear Randy went and found one. We got a cream-colored Chow Chow puppy. His official name was Tub’a Cream, but we called him Tubba. He was adorable, soft, loving, loyal, and he’d groom himself like a cat. Properly groomed Chows don’t even smell like dogs! He loved kids, the cats, women, Randy and me. But woe onto any adult male who came onto our property. Tubba would lunge to the end of his chain, rarely barking, just softly growling if a strange man approached. If it was someone I knew and I called to the dog while shaking the man’s hand, Tubba would stand down. He also knew who exactly could enter the house and the route they would take.
He never lunged or growled at kids, any kid, known and unknown. Only once: The kids were playing hide-and-seek and the one little girl hid in the garage, or tried to. She startled Tubba and he snapped at her. She jumped up on the car to escape him and the bite was actually just a scrape (fast little girl, thank god!), but it scared me. I kept a closer watch after that, warning the kids away from the dark garage – Tubba was old by then and most likely losing his sharp senses.
He proved his loyalty a number of times. Once in the summer, when we were out on the lawn, kids playing in the little kiddie pool, me lounging nearby with Tubba on his leash under my chair…the mailman pulled up. Tubba knew him, knew he walked to the mailbox every day, but this time the mailman decided to leave his usual route of going to the mailbox and came over to give me the mail. One tiny alteration to his usual route…He stepped onto the grass and Tubba exploded out from under my chair to defend his family from the intruder.
One day, I was changing the baby’s diapers and our toddler daughter managed to open the back door. I came into the kitchen and found her diaper, an open door, no daughter and no dog. A big gold Cadillac with an elderly couple inside pulled into my driveway as I hurried outside to search. The man rolled down his window and asked, “Do you own a big blond dog and a little blonde girl?”
“They’re walking down the middle of the road. The dog won’t let us near her. Get in; we’ll take you to them.”
It had only been a couple of minutes and they hadn’t gotten far (we lived in a small town then). And they were actually on their way back home. Tubba had turned Jessie around and was herding her back to the house. There was my two-and-a-half year old daughter, babbling happily to her dog, sauntering along the middle of the road, naked as the day she was born…in tears, I picked her up and got back in the car with both babies, but Tubba wouldn’t get in. He trotted merrily alongside as that sweet older man took us home.
Tubba died happy, doing what he loved – playing with his kids. They had hitched him up to the toboggan one New Year’s and he towed them around the yard, down the snow-covered street. Then they left him sleeping in the snow (which he preferred to his dog house, strangely, he was always quite warm and snug in his snowdrift, I know, cause I checked!) and went in to warm up with cocoa. The next morning, he was dead. We think he died of a heart attack; he was pretty old for a big dog by then, over ten years.
But the dog I really fell in love with was Dizzi. Our daughter was in high school and brought home a pit bull puppy. I so did NOT want another dog at that point in our lives; things were pretty troubled back then. But Dizzi was delightful and Jess trained her beautifully. So did Dodger, my 15 pound silver-tipped tabby cat. Dodger thought he was a dog – he would play Fetch, he would run to the door when someone came over, and he taught Dizzi all his tricks. They would chase each other across the house, across the top of the sofa, coffee table, dining room table – which was the funniest and I think Dodger planned it. He would jump up and race across that long table and Dizzi would be right behind him. Her nails didn’t have the traction the cat’s did. She’d hit the table and skitter across it to fall off the end in a clumsy roll. You could see Dodger laughing his ass off. Good thing pit bulls are nearly indestructible and impervious to pain. Dizzi would bounce up and want to do it all over again.
She’s the most intelligent dog I’ve ever met, loyal, sweet, loving…she thinks she’s a tiny lap dog and always wants to cuddle.
Ah, yes, welcome to some of my Doggie-do Life…train them well, love them and, yes, indeed, remember: They are as human as you, and in many ways, far better people than any human could ever hope to be.