Our dog journey started when our youngest daughter was 4. Our youngest daughter is now almost 35. I am currently reading through the Bible and have discovered that our list of dogs is almost like a biblical genealogy. It goes like this…
We begat (not exactly the correct usage of the word, but just go with it) our first dog, Jake. Jake had issues. He liked to take chunks out of people. So Jake, at one year old, unfortunately was no more. Next we begat one of the greatest dogs of all time, Ralph. Ralph lived for 7 years and was in need of a friend, which begat the mentally deficient, Buffy. Soon after this, our youngest daughter graduated from high school and decided she needed to learn to be more responsible. She also wanted to carry that responsibility in her purse. And so, she purchased a, “though she be but little she is fierce,” white chihuahua, Stella. Our oldest daughter and her husband, lived with us at the time and bought their beautiful white boxer, Haven. And so we were, for a short time, a household of 5 adults, 3 children, and almost 4 dogs. Stella weighed less than a quarter of what the other three weighed, so we’ll give her half credit just to be nice.
Ralph, having succumbed to his greatest temptation, food, ate my birthday cake. Thus, Ralph lived 12 years and was no more because his kidneys and pancreas failed him. A few years later, Buffy, the aforementioned mentally deficient, mistook our dining room floor as the backyard on a daily basis for two years. Buffy lived 9 years when I, tired of mopping, running out of bleach, and at the end of my wits, brought her to a place of eternal sleep. Stella, exceeding her projected 5 lb. weight by 8 lbs., was soon no longer comfortable in a purse and was bequeathed to us by our youngest daughter. When our oldest daughter and her family bought a home of their own, it was decided that Haven, now a 75 lbs. Beluga, should remain with us. Thus, Stella and Haven had many happy years together. They were both 11, when Haven’s back legs could no longer carry her and we brought her to sleep with her canine siblings. When Stella was 12 years old we begat a rescue puppy, Phoebe, the first dog we’d actually begotten for ourselves in quite some time. When Phoebe was 4 years old, 17 year old Stella, now blind, deaf, and arthritic, went to sleep with her canine siblings and was no more. All the years from Jake to Phoebe were 25 years. Thus ends the genealogy portion of our family of dogs.
Phoebe, half Lab and half Treeing Walker Coon hound, is a good dog, mostly. She is loving and protective of her family. She is cautious but accepting of strangers. She does well with children. She enjoys hunting and treeing lizards and squirrels. She is a runt, but so am I. However, this one thing we have against Phoebe…Phoebe is anti-social. We have never experienced this before and we have know idea why she is this way, but she is. When we go out for our morning walk, we begin at 6:30 a.m. to avoid as many dog encounters as we can. Being leashed to a four-legged sonar detector with a supersonic sense of smell, has taught us a few tricks.
Phoebe is addicted to smells, good or bad, makes no difference. Our morning walks have developed into a bit of a covert operation. We exit the house, walk to the end of the driveway, and look both ways. If the coast is clear, we begin our walk. If not, Cliff stands guard in the driveway and I go back into the house and wait for the perpetrator to pass. Once I receive the all clear from Cliff, we proceed. If we encounter any dogs along the way, I take Phoebe and distract her with all the smells I can find. I have darted into our neighborhood park and led her to the garbage can. I have ducked behind parked cars to smell the grass and, if there’s a recently peed on light post nearby, all the better! I have even walked up people’s driveways to hide behind their parked cars, praying all the while that their Ring doorbell isn’t pointed in our direction. If we are caught off guard and don’t have a chance to “hide,” Phoebe will jump in circles and lunge, the hair on her back will stand at attention and she will howl like a banshee. As the dog passes she will whine, like she’s lost her best friend. The vet thinks Phoebe perceives other dogs as a threat and is protecting us. Personally, I think she thinks this is great fun. When we walk on the four-lane main road in front of our development, a place where we usually encounter other dogs at a fairly safe four-lane distance, Phoebe will always look expectantly for them. If there are none, she looks somewhat dejected and resumes her smelling of the sidewalk.
Phoebe is 5 now. We are hoping that, in time, Phoebe will outgrow her penchant for jumping, lunging, and howling at her fellow canines. But, we doubt it. This has become our lot in life. It’s not a lot, but it’s our life. Every walk is an adventure and it’s really not that big a deal.