A Dog Story

Big And Small.

Those who are in the know, or at least pretend to be, told us the recession ended in June 2009. They obviously haven’t seen all the empty storefronts in my town and I would be willing to bet sight-unseen yours is in the same situation. Old-line businesses have disappeared, my two favorite Mexican restaurants are gone, and the last one I discovered is about to go. If the recession is over I certainly haven’t seen much evidence of it.

On a more personal note there seems to be a mass migration of kids back home. Of my five local grandkids, one has been transferred to a job 300 miles away, another is off at school, and the other three, two of which are married, have moved back home. Economically speaking it is rough out there and by moving back home things are much simpler and they can actually save money every month instead of going further in debt. Two of them have large college bills to pay on top of everything else.

Both sets of parents who have received the prodigal children have plenty of room so that is no problem but while people get along fine the affected dogs don’t always do so. This is a good place to back up and trace what has transpired. Back in 1995 a long time wish of mine came true when I bought two 6-week-old purebred Malamute puppies, littermates. My grandson, who was 2 years old at the time, named them Red and Wolf. As they grew I soon found it was tough keeping them from fighting each other and also keeping them in the yard. They soon grew out of the former state, however it took a 6′ wooden fence with an electrical wire to keep them in. Without the wire they simply dug out underneath the fence.

They grew to be large, wonderful, beautiful, loving and protective companions. They were especially good with the grandkids who were very young at the time and totally protective of Diamond Dot, who, if you are new to these pages, is my wife and shooting companion of more than 50 years. If she was in a chair reading one was on each side of her; when she was at the table one was behind her chair, the other was under the table. When she was sick they were beside her bed. When she had a hip operation she was worried about coming home, as they were always so exuberant in their greeting. Somehow they knew and as she entered the house, they never jumped up and were careful not to bump into her. Whoever said dogs were dumb?

All good things come to an end in this life. First Wolf died and two years later Red followed. For the last three years of his life Red was blind; he had a little trouble in the house but he knew where everything was outside. By the time he passed I was devastated. For several years I caught myself going to the sliding door on the deck to let them in every morning. Every time I pulled in the driveway I expected them to be waiting for me at the gate. I didn’t think I could ever replace them; I couldn’t even bring myself to think about getting another dog. But it’s strange how things happen.

When two of my granddaughters were in high school they both received puppies as gifts from boyfriends. The boyfriends soon disappeared, however the dogs remained. Both dogs were little females, Chloe a Pomeranian, and Molly, a Shih’tzu. Both girls married and moved away, however the dogs remained with my daughter and her husband and all was well. Then my grandson decided he needed a dog of his own so he came up with a little female Pit Bull he named Mia. Contrary to what you hear about Pit Bulls, she is a gentle loving dog; must have something to do with the way they are raised.

Now there are three dogs under one roof and all is still well. That was about to change! Thanks to the recession (which was over) granddaughter number two and her husband moved back home bringing with them two more dogs, Marley, another female Pit Bull, and Tucker, a male German shorthair/black lab cross. All being well had come to an end.

campfire tales 2

… this is now.

Dust Up

Four of the dogs were fine, however the smallest one, the nine pound bundle of black and white fur, Chloe the Pomeranian, turned out to be a feisty little troublemaker. I don’t believe she is afraid of anything smaller than an elephant, an African elephant at that. She was constantly stirring up trouble until my desperate daughter called me to ask if I would consider taking Chloe. I had been without dogs for two years and just didn’t know if I could handle it as I still missed Red and Wolf so much. However, Chloe always searched out my lap whenever I visited my daughter’s house and she was a very loving dog, so I said OK. Everything was well again, almost.

It wasn’t long before my daughter called again. “Dad we have another problem. No one is here all day and Molly is terrified of the three bigger dogs and spends all her time hiding in the bedroom. Could you possibly consider taking Molly also?” My first thought was could I actually replace my two manly-man Malamutes with a couple of girly-girl dogs? When Chloe and Molly were young they used to come and visit Red and Wolf and chase them around the backyard until the big boys were worn out. That was no problem, however Molly also liked to chase the cat. “I’ll consider Molly if I can teach her to leave the cat alone.” That took about three days and all was well.

Chloe has turned out to be an excellent watchdog. She spends the day in the living room perched upon the back of the couch and doesn’t miss a thing. I don’t hear doorbells, I don’t hear anyone knocking at the door, I don’t hear anyone close to the house; Chloe does. Nothing gets by her, and she is so smart she has a different way of warning me about everything going on. When the mailman arrives it is just a little yip, when someone goes by the house, the yip becomes a little more serious, and when someone steps on the porch the barking begins in earnest. When Diamond Dot arrives home the barking is also serious, however it is easy to discern, as it is a happy barking. Meanwhile Molly just lays back and waits for serious barking before she joins in.

While Chloe is on guard in the front room Molly spends her day with me. Wherever I am, reading, working, watching TV, she is right beside me. It’s almost comical to me to realize 250 pounds of malamutes have been replaced by a couple of pounds of fluffy females. At night everything changes. Both dogs, just as Red and Wolf always were, become totally protective of Diamond Dot. As she sleeps she can hardly move, as there is one up on the bed on each side of her. That’s one thing Red and Wolf could not do; the bed just wasn’t that big!

When I first started shooting back in the ’50s I never gave a thought to security. All my guns were hanging on pegs in my bedroom. When I married we bought a big old house and the third floor was my hideaway, Dot’s also, and my guns were hanging up there with no concern. That world is long gone and if one has firearms security is a big concern. I use a 4-layered system. First come the dogs. No one gets near the house without them letting me know. Then comes a double alarm system backed up by safes. Finally, I never leave my house unoccupied overnight. Someone is always here. Of all of these to me, especially due to my hearing, or rather the lack thereof, the dogs are the most important. With their vigilance I always know what’s going on. Dogs are so important Federal Premium has just introduced new minimum penetration handgun ammunition labeled Guard Dog Home Defense.

I never would have dreamed these two little dogs could ever take the place of Red and Wolf. And they really haven’t, they’ve just found their own spot in my heart. Like any dogs all they ask is a place to stay, something to eat, and to love and be loved. Actually that’s what we all need.
By John Taffin

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