There are not enough goodbyes.
There are no words.
I didn’t think I believed in reincarnation until I got my two dogs. Now I am pretty sure it does exist.
Hear me out.
I feel very certain that Dave, my Lab/Chow has a lot more going on behind those eyes and in that brain of her’s than just normal doggy thoughts. Dave is planning, studying, and memorizing our constantly changing schedules. When the German Shorthair Pointer Parker has to go outside, Dave might say, “Oh no, I don’t have to go out.”* Which she usually, in good weather, will always go outside when Parker does, just to be nosy. When I come back inside with Parker, it is then very clear why Dave wanted to stay indoors–usually a food-related opportunity. She will have consumed food left on the coffee table (at perfect muzzle height) by my toddler, or found the dog food bag erroneously left open by a human distracted by the toddler.
Dave is an incredibly smart dog. For some reason, she always pees (multiple times!) when I take her to the pet store, but she has never peed indoors while visiting my mom’s apartment building, even though I know that the double sliding doors and elevator make her tuck her tail in fright.
She knows just how to sneak up on the bed so that you never realize she is there (until you try to roll over). She can be very stealth for a 60 pound dog.
For all these reasons and more, I truly believe that Dave has been a dog many times over. I believe her next go around, she will be a human. A very naughty human, but a human all the same.
Parker is a whole different story. He is a cat trapped in a dog’s body. I believe that he used to be a cat, and this is his first go-around as a dog. So he is still learning the ropes.
Parker and Dave don’t like each other. They tolerate each other, but they are not buddies. If they both didn’t have tails that wag and the ability to bark, I wouldn’t even think they they are the same species. Maybe that is why they are not friends, because Dave is more human than dog, and Parker is more cat than dog.
Parker is very demanding. If he doesn’t get his way, he uses his urine as his revenge, much like a cat would. He had even peed on my bed before.** (He almost lost his cushy, warm home over that one.)
He likes to escape and patrol the neighborhood like a feline would. When he gets tired, he stops at the nearest house and begs to go in, like a cat would. Except that he is not a cute, fuzzy kitten. He is a 55 pound hyper monster of muscle and legs. So, of course, we are soon called to go and pick him up. Some people are nice enough to even deliver. (Bless those people.) Parker has run away many, many times. He has taken a swim in the nearby lake and crossed the busiest road in the county by the dark of night. He came millimeters from ripping open the main artery in his leg on a metal fence post. I am sure he had nine lives, and is on his last one now.
He rubs himself on the corners of my bed, and on the edges of the carpeted stairs, just as a cat would. Oh sure, he does it under the guise of scratching his doggy ears, but I know the truth. He also gets VERY excited when he encounters a cat. He barks at them incessantly, as if to say, “Hey, it’s me! I’m a fellow cat. Let’s play!” The cats are not happy about that. A cat a block away once tried to attack him and scratched his nose. All Parker was doing was walking by ON A LEASH!
He is a good snuggler. That may be his only redeeming quality. He is very warm, and can curl himself up into a very tight circle on the bed or the couch, despite his long, gangly legs. But, beware. Just like a cat, I have seen him sit on my husband’s head in the morning when he wants to get fed.
If we had trained him to be the bird dog he was bred for, I believe he would have been very good at it. Not because he is a GSP, but because his feline side would have taken over.
Dave and Parker are nothing like my asbestos friend’s dog, Joe. He is just a big dumb dog. He is friendly, loyal, and only has to go outside like twice a day. Joe is a dog you would see in a cartoon. Dave bosses Joe around like a human would. Parker bosses him around like a cat would. Poor Joe, canine through and through, probably wonders what the hell is wrong with those animals that look like dogs and smell like dogs, but sure do not act like dogs.
I wonder if I had them DNA tested, if it would detect any anomalies. Or a TSA scanner.
Dave already loves beer, and has very definitive tastes (not that she ever gets very much). Maybe I should just quit fighting it and treat them like their inner souls. Maybe I need to pick up some catnip for Parker at the store 😉
For more stories about Dave and Parker, please visit my People of Interest page.
* DAVE DOES NOT ACTUALLY TALK. Trust me, if she did, you would know about it. I would have her muzzle on every newscast and talk show across Northern America. (Hey Canadians! Love you and your hockey!)
** For a great recipe on how to get dog pee out of your matress, please visit: http://www.dogchatforum.com/dog-urine-removal-mattress.htm
My asbestos friend always laughs at me because I bought a house with a fenced in backyard, yet we at my house wage a constant battle to keep our two dogs in the yard.
It really isn’t funny.
We got Dave in 2004. I think the first time she escaped was during the first week we had her. I left both the front and back doors to the garage open. Whoops. E. The back door is within the fence, the front is not. So she just walked right on through, and sniffed her way three houses down. I caught up to Dave just at the same moment a lady popped out her back door and gave me a funny look. “Just getting my dog,” I explained. Apparently that lady is still mad about that, as she brought it up to my sister-in-law last summer: eight years later!
The next time, my husband left one of our three gates open. It was garbage night, so Dave wandered across the street to sniff the neighbor’s garbage. My husband had to chase her in his socks. Luckily, in both these early Dave incidents, she had her nose to the ground and was traveling at a pace very conducive to recovery.
Dave was great until…she would see the dog next door outside. Over the fence she would go. Or a dog passing by on the sidewalk. Or two. Or three. (We live in the city, on a very busy corner.) A four foot high chain-link fence, a 60lb dog. But she would just scale it in no time. We had to start putting her on a lead when she was outside unsupervised. We learned real quick that the collars with the plastic, snap-together closure are not meant for tie-outs. Also, we learned to change the tie-outs annually, before they could break on their own. Both of these incidents ended with Dave in the neighbor’s yard. Once they put their dog back in the house, she would stand there like “Wait, how do I get back into MY yard now?” Apparently, climbing a fence requires the appropriate motivation.
I contemplated buying some of that fence topping stuff they use on high school baseball fields. You know, it looks like plastic drainage pipe for a field? (Sorry. Maybe you only know that if you live in rural Michigan.) I went as far as going to a lumberyard to price it, but the salesman pretty much laughed at me and discouraged me. I think it would have worked too, because it would have been too wide for Dave to wrap her legs around and get a grip. But, in the end, old age seems to have been the best deterrent for that behavior.
Now, when we moved in, our backyard was fenced in, as I mentioned earlier in this post. But the back door was not.
“What?” you ask…
The previous owners added on a laundry room past the back door, which I am forever grateful for. But this made the backyard gate NEXT to the backdoor, instead of within it. It wasn’t a problem with Dave. She would just run around the corner to the backyard, no problem. Parker, we would hold on to his collar as he went around into the yard. Parker is a German Shorthaired Pointer and a real flight risk. Sometimes the gate still got left open and the dogs escaped.
Well, just Parker.
If Parker got past the five nearest houses, it was impossible to catch him. Usually we had to wait for him to quit running, and stop at someone’s house. (I am sure he was looking for a couch to lay on.) The good samaritan would call us, and we would go pick him up. One time some high school kids found him and brought him back to our house. It was a cold, freezing rain night (that is when he chooses to run away 95% of the time). He was curled up in the backseat of their warm car and didn’t want to get out and go in the house. I could have strangled him. One time a couple brought him back, and he smelled like the woman’s perfume. He must have rubbed himself ALL OVER that poor woman to smell that strongly.
The only time we ever found Parker on our own once he left the immediate vicinity, he was running down the sidewalk. We followed him in the car. We clocked him doing 18mph. As my husband said, that was just “cruising speed”. One hot, summer day (part of the other 5%), Parker decided to take a dip in a nearby lake. Talk about a bad wet dog smell!
So, I was finally fed up. I measured and called to see how much it would be to get fence and another gate for the back door. I think it was about $350. I made sure I got a wide gate so that our back door could still be wheelchair accessible for my (other) sister-in-law.
Best damn $350 I ever spent.
Totally worth it when the fence guy was backing out of the driveway and I let the dogs out. The concrete for the fence posts wasn’t even set yet. They ran into the backyard as usual. Parker peed, then ran at FULL SPEED up through the former gate (that was sitting open) and jumped on the new fence like “NOOOOOOOOOOO! What IS this thing blocking me!” I laughed so hard. He was even whimpering. It was great!
But, alas, Parker still found ways out. There was a small space next to the garage, a few feet wide. Parker would try to go there, so we would block it with a pallet. He would get past the pallet, to the old, rotten fence. He got past that. We put in a new section of fence, where the pallet used to be. Parker figured out he could crawl UNDER the back of the garage and escape beyond the fenced area. We had to block that “crawl space” with the leftover fence from the other barricade.
Where the house met the chain-link fence, there was a tiny gap. You wouldn’t think a 60lb Pointer could get his rib cage through there, but he did. There was another such gap where the chain-link and the wooden privacy fence came together. [Have you ever heard of a yard with SO MANY FENCES having so MANY dog escapes?] We put metal posts in both locations to block further escapes. The posts worked well until April 2, 2013, when Parker tried to impale himself on one [click here for more details].
Now, we are mostly fortified. I think.
Except there is still some open space under the garage. And the place where it looks like a dog head-butted the wooden fenced and warped the wood.
One day, I saw a Pointer run past my living room picture window and down the street. My heart instantly started to race.
Then I checked the couch.
It wasn’t my Pointer.