I have an egg-sucking, duck-herding, fry-eating attack dog.
She was a rescue, so we are not responsible for her quirks.
Quirks look good on some people, dogs too.
A few months ago, I was in the marketplace for a dog for my daughter, Cunksi. Not just any dog, but a black lab. I’ve always been loyal to black labs, because after owning a few of them, I know how fiercely loyal they are to their families.
So I wandered into our local bike shop-turned-Native-American-center/community building, to visit friends. I just threw it out that I wanted a dog, not a puppy, for Cunksi. A man lounging on the couch said he had a two-year-old black lab mix. I said I’d like to see her.
He all but JUMPED off of that couch and returned within 15 minutes. The dog he had with him was a gorgeous black lab mix, with a telltale white chest, a long narrow snout, and a long body. She walked right in the door and straight to me, head down, in submissive posture.
The man told me her name and I petted her, watched her with Cunksi, and looked her over. She seemed solid enough. But I wanted a test run. I asked the man if I could “borrow” her for a few days, as I simultaneously told Cunksi that the dog would be “visiting” us. I liked the first looks of her, but having had a few “drop in” dogs, they sometimes don’t show their witko (craziness) until later. I would wait and see for her looney tunes to show up.
So she came home with us on a three-day trial basis.
That first day I watched her with Cunksi; their love was mutual. I can’t tell you what it was exactly that sold me on her, but the very next morning I checked with Mihigna and with Cunksi to make sure the vote to keep her was unanimous. It was. I called the man up as soon as I felt it was appropriate and told him we’d be keeping her.
Then her quirks came out. She hated dog food. She preferred people food. As someone who knows dog psychology, I wasn’t falling for it. I told her she’d eat the dog food or go hungry.
When we’d drive through McDonald’s and get our food, she’d look at me then at the bag, expectantly. When I’d eat my fries, her eyes never left me, or the fries. I looked at her — this dog had been fed fries! Oh well, a few couldn’t hurt.
At home, when I’d make Cunksi fries, and the dog thought I wasn’t looking, she’d would steal them right off of Cunksi’s plate. I’d drop a vegetable, ANY vegetable, she’d look at it, then up at me: What else you got, any fries?
That night, I was working at my computer as Cunksi slept, with the baby monitor next to me. Cunksi woke up crying, and Dog bolted to the room, forced the door open with her long muzzle and checked on her. She seemed genuinely concerned. Wow, that was cool.
Now, she sleeps under Cunksi’s bed and will not come out until she knows the child is deeply asleep. Then she comes and curls up under the computer table at my feet.
I told her to go get it, but she didn’t and I wondered if maybe her former owner had beaten the will to chase a ball out of her. Labs CAN be a bit obsessive when it comes to balls. Nope, she wanted nothing to do with a ball…or any object hurled, tossed, nudged. Weird.
So life went on, and she settled into our lives and hearts. The weather grew cold and I headed out to the yard to move the ducks into the shed where they’d have a heat lamp and a warm bed of hay. Dog had followed me out; I didn’t think much of it. As I tried to round up the ducks, they didn’t care for my plan and decided to go in four different directions. I turned to focus on one duck when I saw Dog herding — yes, herding —all four ducks to the shed. And doing an amazing job of it. I didn’t have the shed door open, so she just kept them all there in a huddle while I opened it. Then she drove them in as if she’d done it before.
So that’s why you wouldn’t chase a ball, you crazy hound!
She looked up at me, utterly pleased with herself. I must admit, I was beaming too. I went inside and cooked her some fries.
Shortly after that, we got a glimpse into what her previous life must have been like. In our house, we are a very jovial, physical bunch. We often play a family game of chase and run from one end of the house to the other. We pretend to “get” each other, and Turtle [Cunksi's nickname] will get us, or we will get her.
One day, I took off after Cunksi who screamed in delight. Dog cut me off immediately and gave a warning bark. I knew what it meant, and backed off. I was comforted to know she would protect Cunksi.
A few days later, without giving it much thought, Mihigna and I started wrestling. Mihigna is an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) man, so he was trying to put me in locks and such. Neither one of us thought anything of it until Mihigna grabbed me and Dog gave a warning bark. We kept going and she barked again. When we didn’t stop and Mihigna came at me again, she jumped on him with all her weight and gave a bark that said she meant business. We looked at each other.
Her story was coming together now. I surmised that she was in a household with domestic violence and she protected the mistress, and the children for that matter. This was confirmed for me when a few weeks later she was lying at my feet. Mihigna and I were playfully bantering back and forth when he came up to me and raised his voice. Dog jumped in my lap and held me in my seat, her eyes glued to Mihigna’s every move.
I felt sorry for her and her former life. The things she must have seen, the stress she must have been put through. And I assume that is how she ended up wandering the highway down by Ainsworth. I don’t know for sure, but I can guess the abusive person in her old life gave her a one-way ride.
Oh well, our luck. She has turned out to be the best dog. She loves us fiercely, which helps Mihigna know that his girls are safe. That dog lets Cunksi dress her up and sit on her, all while staring at us with a look in her eye that only be interpreted as, “I can hardly wait for her to grow out of this phase.”
I am glad we found such a great fit with our family, and all because I just threw it out there.
All photos @2010 Mary Black Bonnet
This post was previously published on February 19, 2010 at Scribble, Scribble, Scribble.
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