I don’t know if any of you have read Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimens book Good Omens? It is one of my favorite reads and a book I always go back to when I have some time to spare. Sitting and reading it I can jump in at any point and be happy, it’s like sitting down with an old friend and having a good chat about the old times. I totally recommend it and even if you don’t enjoy the rest of this post I think you should pop off to Barnes and Noble or Amazon and grab yourself a copy.
The reason I bring up this fantastic book is that there is a moment in the book where (not wanting to spoil anything for those who just rushed off to buy it between paragraphs) a young boy is walking with his dog on a summer’s day, throwing sticks, and just being happy together. An almost romantic image of a perfect summer school break. I can imagine there being lots of trees and the bright sun casting spotlights on the ground through the leaves and branches. That is something that I really wished I could have had as a kid. It is something I would love to have as an adult too. We all want those perfect moments. (another one just popped into my head – but I’ll save that for another entry)
Here is the problem, all the dogs that have been in my life have been generally stupid. There have been sparks of intelligence along the way, but for the most part stupid. Or perhaps that is wrong, perhaps they have been the smart ones, and I’ve been the stupid one thinking I could get a dog to learn something when it is quiet happy to lay there and have its belly rubbed. After all we all love our belly rubbed right?
The first dog I remember was Candy, a Yorkshire Terrier who thought she was a giant. She was queen of the house and would yap at anyone who dared to ring the doorbell. And if a cat came into the backyard all you would have to do is say “cats” and she would run as fast as her little legs would carry her out into the back yard and chase the feline foe away. Being the young boy that I was and Candy not being as smart as she could have been, I always found it amusing to just randomly say the word “cats” and watch her little legs wind up and see her zoom off towards the back yard. What is funny about that? What is funny is that I never opened the back door. “cats,” zoom, SPLAT. she
would run nose first into the door. To a seven-year old boy this never got boring. If I had a dog that did that now, I’d still do it!
She also was fond of treats, we could lay them out on the carpet in a row, then pick Candy up by her back legs and walk her from treat to treat as if she was a vacuum cleaner. One thing she didn’t like was being woken from a deep sleep. The phrase let sleeping dogs lie, could very well have been written about her. It was something I never learned well, I would always find it funny to get as close to her as I could and get her growling, it wasn’t until she tried to bite me I stopped playing that game. The day Candy died was a sad one. She had been ill for a while and whispers amongst the parents were that they were going to take her to the vets. Even then I knew what that meant, but when I walked home from school that day I was still hopeful that the vet had cured her. When I rang my doorbell and there was no yapping to greet me, my heart sank. I knew she was gone.
Sophie came along in the late 80s, it had been nearly eight years since we’d owned a dog. Sophie was rescued from a home where she wasn’t looked after correctly and I think that is why she was the way she was….very very dull. She was scared of everything, when she met my Uncle Terry she was so scared of him she wet herself on the spot. She didn’t do tricks, she ate, she slept, she pooped and peed, but no tricks. She enjoyed….erm, I have no idea what she enjoyed? I can’t really remember many amusing things about her, she was that dull. Oh, there was that one time where she was sleeping and I though she was dead. But other than that she was boring. Though she was soft to pet!
Two dogs down, and not one that knew how to play fetch. It’s all I want from a dog is for me to be able to throw things away and a furry companion go get it!
When I moved to the USA my wife already had Chloe, a Great Dane – Bull Mastiff mix. It took a little while for her to get used to me, but as it took a year for my work permit to arrive I spent a lot of that first year with her. She loved to run, or zoomies as we like to call them. She would race around the house making herself dizzy. I would move furniture into her path so that she would slow down, oh no, this would just give her a hurdle to clear and make her go faster. Alas Chloe did not fetch, but she was good off the leash. When Up North, we would ride the four wheelers through the woods and she would follow along happy to run with us. She would dart off every now and then, but after getting sprayed by a skunks she didn’t do that so often. As she got older we found out she didn’t like little dogs, we could no longer take her to the dog park to run around because she just couldn’t be trusted to no want to eat someones tiny doggie. So we got her a companion.
Enter Wizard, the Great Dane. Do you know if I had a penny for every time that someone asked me if Wizard was a pony then I’d be a very rich man. We got Wizard from a breeder in Canada, I think that’s why Wizard was the way he was, Eh! At first when the puppy Wizard came home, Chloe was not pleased. She was used to being top dog, and now there was a rival, and it was cute and had big soft floppy ears. It also pooped everywhere. And Wizard is the reason we both swore never to get a puppy again, house training him was a nightmare. Training him to do anything was tough. If we had cheese puffs, we could ask Chloe to “say please,” and she would woof. Wizard would stare at you blankly and wonder why he never got the first cheese puff. He would not bark on command. He would however bark at his shadow, any car that passed the house, any car that passed the house ten minutes ago, for no reason in the middle of the night, etc. He did know one trick, I think he studied under Harry Houdini, because if you turned your back on him for five seconds he would escape. He would jump the fence and go bounding off down the road, he thought it was great fun to be chased by everyone, and all the local neighbour kids were terrified of the big dog, so no matter how much we yelled stand still, they still ran and he still chased. After a few years we worked out how to round him up quick. We just walked to the car, opened up the sliding side door, and drove down the street, Lets go for a ride Wizzy we would yell, and he would jump right in, there is nothing a dog likes more than a car ride! He never learned to fetch, though he could do the half fetch. I would throw something, he would chase it, and when it hit the ground he would lose total interest in it. And run off, and we’d have to get in the car.
When Wizard hit six years old he got bone cancer and went down hill really fast, he died on a Saturday morning and we were heart-broken. We never though Chloe would outlive him. Chloe was eleven years old, an amazing age for a big dog. Then four days later disaster happened. As I was walking up the deck Chloe ran up behind me and slipped and fell breaking her femur. She was too old for surgery and we knew what the only other option was. I miss Chloe a lot she was a real daddy’s girls.
The best way to mend a broken heart is seeing a good heart surgeon I guess, though after a month or so the Wife was searching the on line, I DON’T WANT MY DOG ads and she came across Diesel he was in a rescue up in Bad Axe and the Wife fell in love with him. He has the markings of a Dalmatian though he is in fact a Great Dane. He is new to the Baker household, we changed his name to Murray as Diesel didn’t fit him he is going to fit in just nicely. He is the one thing I have been looking for in a dog, he plays fetch! I can throw things and he goes and gets them. He learns quickly too. though he is going to break us on the food department, this dog is an eating machine. Can’t wait for the summer so I can take him for some nice long walks somewhere where the sun shines through the trees.