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IT STARTED WITH MUTT
1 January 2006
I suspect that, since this entry is being written piecemeal, it is going to sound like something I wrote while cleaning items off my desk...but let's see if I can find a way to tie it all together.
Well, none, unless we get rid of the one we have. Ashley called to say that the family she thought would be perfect for Latte, wasn't. So Ms. Latte has yet another extension here. "I think the fates are telling you that you need to keep her," Ashley said. I growled. She promised me that Latte will be the next "pet of the week" and would surely find a home.
I entered Sheila for "cutest face" on Dog Show USA, so if you click on the link above, you can cast a vote for her.
As I was putting this entry together, I started putting up the video for the day and decided I wanted to talk about the dog being washed.
His name was Ho Chi Mutt. He was the dog I had dreamed about all of my childhood--except he wasn't. He wasn't Lassie or Lad a Dog, or even Bonnie's Boy (a black cocker spaniel in a story I read). He was just Mutt, the only dog available for adoption the day we went to the Pound--and I was determined that, after having waited more than 20 years to have a dog, I was going to get a dog THAT DAY. So Mutt entered our lives.
A week later, I remember calling Walt in tears saying that the dog had to go back. NOW. He had just pulled all of my clean laundry off of the clothes line in the midst of a joyous mischief spree. We had baby Jeri and I was pregnant with Ned at the time, with lots of diapers and no dryer. I had to wash everything again. This was not the first--or the last--time I had to rewash clothes because of Mutt.
I hated that dog. He was the closest I have to Mary's "bad, stupid dog" (except that I suspect "bad, stupid dogs" annoy us because they are definitely not stupid at all, and in fact, are probably smarter than we are, which is what aggravagates us!)
Throughout his time with us, Mutt's goal in life was to ESCAPE. He didn't seem to want to run away so much as he wanted to taunt me. He would manage to slip out through the tiniest of cracks. I would have to figure out what to do with the baby du jour in my arms and take off in hot pursuit, often in bare feet.
Mutt always kept the same distance between us, looking back over his shoulder to see where I was. If I ran, he ran; if I tired and walked, he walked--but leaving at least 2 house widths between us so there was no way I could ever catch him. I swear the dog laughed. He was having a glorious time. (Bad, but definitely not "stupid.")
I'm sure I caught him lots of times, but I'm equally sure that I only caught him when he was ready to be caught. I overcame any reluctance to use profanity during Mutt's years with us, and turned the air blue with epithets about his parentage (is it really an insult to call a dog a "son of a bitch"?) and what I would do with him if I ever caught him.
He gradually calmed down, as dogs are wont to do, as he got older. Then he began to develop health problems.
He had a bad back and was in and out of the vet's for many years. At one point we took a big gulp and spent all the money we had saved for a vacation in order to give Mutt needed back surgery. It extended his life by a couple of years or so...I've forgotten how long by now. But the day came when he collapsed and the look in his eyes let us know that he didn't want to fight any more.
He had finally run away so far I wasn't able to catch him any more. He had been such a regular at the vet's office, and we had spent so much money trying to keep him comfortable, that the office didn't even charge us to put him to sleep.
In stark contrast to Mutt was Jeff, a sheltie puppy my cousin gave me when Paul was a baby. Jeff was scared of his shadow and hated going out the front door. Midway through the first walk we took him on, we were stuck on a concrete island in the middle of a busy street. Walt had Jeff on leash and I looked down and discovered a terrified puppy with all four legs wrapped tightly around Walt's leg!
Jeff became "my" dog and, like Sheila, really bonded with me to the exclusion of all the others. I was thrilled to finally have a dog of my own.
Jeff's terror of freedom lasted until one 4th of July when we had gone off to the park to watch fireworks. When we got home, Jeff was gone. I don't know how he got out of the yard, but he did. It pained me to think of the terror he must have felt that would cause him to overcome his fear of being out in front of the house. We looked everywhere for him, and put an ad in the paper, but he was nowhere to be found. I checked the Pound every single day for a week (there were three other lost shelties there that week, but not Jeff).
Finally one day I had a call from Animal Control. They had picked Jeff up in a field on the far side of Woodland, some 10-15 miles away and they were taking him to our vet. (Thank God he still had his collar and license on.)
I rushed down to meet the doggie ambulance. If a brown dog could look "pale," Jeff looked pale. He had torn his foot on barbed wire (they assumed) and had lost a lot of blood. They say he would have bled to death except the wound got packed with mud and that stopped the bleeding. They did extensive surgery on him and did skin grafts on his foot, using skin from his leg. For the rest of his life, he had fur that grew out the bottom of his foot!
Funny thing, though. After that "walkabout," Jeff was a changed dog. He wasn't nearly as afraid of his shadow. He wasn't exclusively "mine" any more, and he even enjoyed going out for a walk--he didn't have to be dragged.
It was a sad day when Jeff left us.
Then there came Seymour and then Toby and then Kimba and then Sheila and now all these foster dogs. As I look back, I see a whole bunch of distinct personalities, lots of irritating traits, lots of endearing traits.
Just like people, I guess. (I know a few "bad, stupid" people too!)
PHOTO OF THE DAY
A cleaner, but not very happy Mutt.