Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dog Gone

Our daughter, Maggie, with Aussie and holding Heidi when she was a puppy

We had two wonderful dogs, and after many, mostly faithful, years, they both died within a few months of each other. Instead of going out and replacing them with new models we decided instead to take care of "other people’s dogs." That works out quite well. We get our dog fix and they have the comfort of knowing their dogs have someone to sleep with, pet them, feed them and scoop poop for them here at "Camp Mallery".

The two we had, Aussie and Heidi left us with a lot of good memories—and a few sour ones. Aussie came from the Humane Society. I was on a early morning talk show. While I was being pre-interviewed before we went on live camera, suddenly the whole crew disappeared. I discovered they were with the Humane Society guy who had all these cute little Australian shepherd and whatever jumped over the fence, mixed mutts. I called my wife and told her to keep watching after my interview was over because our dog was going to be on next. She said, "We don’t have a dog." I said, "We do now."

Later we had to go to the Humane Society and officially adopt the dog. Gaila didn’t like the one I picked and decided on another of the litter. Aussie was a great dog except for the fact that she piddled when she was nervous. The vet said I should take her to town during tourist season and let her piddle around all the tourists and she might get over it. She never did!

It might have been because her breed never developed a tail. You knew when she was happy because her whole hind-end shook. She was smart as a whip. I taught her to fall dead when I shot her, get her dish, speak and not fight with raccoons that were bigger than her. Actually, she taught herself the raccoon trick. One afternoon she was sunning in the driveway while a big fat raccoon climbed on our extra large bird feeder. Usually raccoons only come around at night but this one needed an afternoon snack I guess. Aussie never bothered the furball until I walked out into the yard. She must have thought she wasn’ t doing her job and needed to attack the raccoon. She jumped up and charged.

The raccoon nonchalantly climbed down the feeder pole, grabbed Aussie by the throat and started wrestling. Aussie was crying like a baby and yelling, "Dick, get him off me—quick!"
I had to use the hose to break them up. Aussie headed for the house with the tail, she didn’ t really have, between her legs. She ignored raccoons after that.

I took her to the bank with me and left her in the car while I went inside to make a deposit. I told the teller I needed a treat for my dog out in the car. She said, "Bank policy is, we need to physically see your dog before we can give you a treat." I said, "No problem, I’ll go get her." The teller quickly explained, "I’m only kidding." I said, "No, my dog will work for her treat. I’m going to go get her." On the way to the car I remembered she might piddle in the bank but it was too late. I was already committed.

I brought Aussie to the front of the teller counter and shot her with my finger. She peed on the floor and fell dead. The bank crew was not upset, they said, "Oh look, she peed on the tile and not on the carpet." With that comment Aussie ran around the counter to the teller, got all nervous and peed on the carpet. I said, "We’ve made enough deposits for one day, let’s get out of here."

On the sidewalk heading for the car the teller ran out and said, "In all the commotion she didn’t get her treat." Aussie took the biscuit and piddled on the sidewalk. From that day on we always pulled up to the drive-in window.

Heidi was an abused orphan. Someone dropped her off in the woods by our house. She was a small malnourished puppy. She looked like a German shepherd but she kept growing and growing. We finally decided she was a long-haired, Afghan, Wolfhound, German Shepherd mix. Aussie, half her size, was still top dog. Heidi would never have gotten into trouble if she picked her friends better, but she always hung around with Aussie. Besides rolling in turkey poop their favorite trick was to run off into the woods. They had a favorite mud hole. If we turned our backs for one minute they took the opportunity to sneak off. They would come back covered with this thick, black, almost toxic, ooze pasted all over them. They both hated baths and you would think that sooner or later they would equate mud with bath—they never did.

Like many dogs they were afraid of fireworks and gun shots. They would shake all over and hide behind the couch. I decided to use this weakness to break them of their mud bog adventures. They were smart enough to head in the opposite direction when they slinked away, then circle back to the shallow pond of decaying matter to play. One day I purposely let them get away then ran down into the woods and hid behind a fallen tree where I knew they would pass. When they finally came through, I popped up from behind the tree and emptied a starting pistol at them. They both squatted and piddled then went straight home at Mach four. Did this work? No, they had very short memories—but they left us with many long term ones.
—Keep Smilin, Dick E. Bird

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