I miss having a dog. It’s been almost twenty years ago, since we had a pet. I miss talking to him (since I’ve been married, all of our pets have been male), picking ticks off of him (not that much, but you have to do what you have to do to maintain), taking him for walks and car rides. Just things you would do with a friend.
We had a cat for a long time, he was a Siamese named Po Chow Mao (little boy cat). Terrie had an art class in college and one of her fellow students was from Thailand. She asked him for a name and he suggested Po Chow Mao. Po had a pretty grey/black coat and blue eyes. He was fine, a little quirky, but he was a cat. It is irrational to expect a cat to behave like a dog. There was not greeting you at the front door when you came home, not wagging his tail like it was going to fall off, no “happy” look on his face. When I came home, Po might walk through the living room, might twitch his tail once (it looked to me like it was a nervous twitch. I don’t know for certain that he was nervous, but that’s what it looked like), the look on his face was like “Oh, you came back! Are you going to feed me now?” When Greg Keenen lived with us for a while, Po would like to surprise him around Greg’s bedroom door. Sometimes from below the door, he would dart out a de-clawed paw and tap Brother Greg’s ankle. Greg was not really a “cat person”, so it would startle him. Sometimes, Po would wait for Greg to come home, by balancing on top of the open door. He would wait for Brother Greg to quietly walk through his door, and then Po would drop down to say “Hi” in his cat language. Brother Greg would visit with me about how dis-settling that was, I would talk to Po and tell him that was unacceptable behavior toward a young and nervous, Baptist preacher/house guest. Po would agree and promise to do better, but I could not convince him to apologize to Brother Greg. We started converting the garage into a den, and Po lost his mind. He just could not handle the change in his habitat. We could not tolerate his methods of expressing himself. Po was about 96 in cat years, when his life ended.
We tried a couple of rescue dogs. Dog’s people just didn’t want anymore. As dog foster parent’s we did not do well. I guess I always compared them to our first pet, Queenie. Queenie was a tan, white, black Boxer; we had when we lived in California. She was a good companion. Boxers are loyal to their family and very protective. I recall a time, when Mom and I were wrestling around in the living room. Nothing rough, but Mom would yeller out once and a while with a phony cry for help. Queenie had been watching us and after Mom yelled out, Queenie got up, walked over to me and gently, ever so gently placed her teeth over my cheek, as if to say, “Don’t get carried away. I’m watching out for your Mom.” Ok, I didn’t understand dog language, but she made the point to me. One day, Dad brought home a younger male Boxer named Prince, not the artist formerly known as Prince, but Prince. I’m not sure who was responsible for naming our pets, but I did not get to cast a vote. I guess Queenie and Prince got along ok, but I guess our neighbors didn’t like us having two dogs. In the night, someone gave poisoned hamburger meat to Queenie and Prince. They were both dead when the sun came up.
So about thirty years after Queenie passed, we got a dog I liked. He was a black Labrador that I named Bob. Bob didn’t need a fancy title, a fancy house, or matching sunglasses/bandana. Bob was happy just to be with me. He had that “happy” dog smile that just made you love him. Sometimes, I would invite into the house. Terrie didn’t like that much saying, “Bob is an outside dog and outside he must be!” Bob looked hurt when she said that, ’cause he didn’t want to be anywhere he wasn’t wanted. One day, after work, I was sitting on the back patio steps. He came to me, placing his head on my lap. I started asking how his day had gone and after some time, he shared with me how sad he was that Terrie didn’t want him around. I was able to talk to him about being married; how that she gets to run the inside of the house and I get to run what’s left. Since he was young and unmarried, he didn’t completely understand how that all worked, but I did my best to explain it. That changed after we got some new neighbors.
The rent house next door was leased to a family, who owned female Rottweiler’s. I didn’t think much about it until I went to the back patio steps to visit with Bob and he didn’t seem interested in me. He kept pacing up and down the length of the fence. The two frauleins were wearing a perfume that was driving him crazy. Up until this point, Bob had always obeyed me and wanted to be with me, but not anymore. You could see the wheels turning in his dog brain, “I’ve got to get over that fence! I’m in love!!” I pulled him over to the steps to have one of our talks. I told him it was not true love. He must resist and do the right thing. The next day, an unhappy neighbor was at my door, telling me my Labrador had dug under the fence and had known, in a biblical sense, his Rottweiler’s. My heart sunk! Bob, my Bob would do that? After I talked to him, he did it anyway. I apologized to the neighbor. He said he didn’t want any of Bob’s kind to ever be with his Rottweiler’s again. That upset me. Bob was just as good a dog as the neighbor’s dog. Sure, he didn’t have papers, but you don’t have to have papers to be a friend. I went to the backyard to see the situation. The evidence of escape was still there. Bob was lying in the backyard, legs crossed, smoking a cigarette with smoke rings above his head. I was going to confront him about how he got cigarettes, but decided the fraulein situation must be dealt with first. I could see he had developed a smirk, arrogant attitude overnight. He admitted to what he had done and said he wasn’t going to stop seeing them. I told him he had to for his own safety. He had to stop digging under the fence. He could see the disappointment in my face. He said he would stop digging.
Bob didn’t dig under the fence anymore. He started jumping over it. I borrowed an electric dog collar from someone and it was effective for only a short time. One day, I caught him half way over the gate. I pushed the button to activate the collar. The tazing seemed to have no effect on him anymore. The next day, when I got home, Bob was gone! My friend had left home. The most consistent theory was that he jumped the fence and didn’t come back. But somehow, I will always believe the German frauleins came back to help him escape. He was whisked away to some hidden bunker, never to be seen in public again.
So you can see, just going out to get a dog is not that easy for me. It has to be the right dog. It has some big paw prints to fill.