“…the clouds are drifting the world is so wide a fellow feels lucky with a dog by his side, hey Packy I’m coming back again…,” Packy by Loudon Wainwright III. A song about a man sending a letter to his dog in the mail.
Today is projected to be hot, hot, hot so, in the cool of the morning, Fisher secured to leash and harness leads from backyard through a gate in the chain link fence into the city park. Fisher, a Labrador mix, races for a tennis ball I launch but just as he is about to retrieve it, bring it back, and repeat the process he darts off nose to the ground, on scent. A few more throws with the same results confirms fetch is not a game he cares for or I not to mention handling a slobbered ball. Other than the obvious Labrador features Fisher’s “mix” is a mystery; his ears are always at attention moving independently like radar his skull narrow, triangular whereas a pure breed ears lay alongside the wider head.
One and a half years ago sadness and memory overload consumed me so that just seven days after putting down 10 year old pug Smokey Joe I paid a visit to Southwest Washington Humane Society looking for a new companion. What better way to overcome heartbreak then saving a dog in a similar circumstance, helping each other. After filling out the appropriate forms I am ushered by an aide to kennels occupied with Terriers, German Shepherds, Shih Tzu, Labradors, (just some of the many breeds awaiting adoption) excited eyes watching are you the one. Stopping at a kennel with a golden-furred Labrador Retriever Mix inside attentively sitting, ears erect, eyes piercing I knew this is the one, Fisher becomes my rescue dog. There is momentary pause when the aide explains Fisher’s separation anxiety but I go ahead with the adoption committing to giving him a loving home regardless of the infliction.
For the most part a pug’s personality is mellow and Smokey Joe exemplified this although his wild side showed whenever park maintenance crews brought out the riding mower. They chuckled watching Joe race the entire length of the fence and back, barking trying to expel this evil machine from his park. When investigating a scent his entire face disappeared into a clump of grass; he got two walks a day, premium food, regular grooming and dental, and could be left in or outside with little concern. On the other hand, anxiety can be a powerful enemy in a dog’s life. Hung-over from Smokey’s Joe laid back traits I give no thought to leaving Fisher alone inside whilst I run a few errands intending to be gone 30 minutes. Upon returning a muffled, howling sound I hear but shrug it off as something somewhere else. Once inside Fisher greets me with a superman like leap landing his massive front paws breast high, strong jaw playful playing with my hand, moaning as if saying where the heck have you been. Calmer, Fisher gets the command to sit then I scan for damage finding one item to which in awe I stare. A porcelain coffee cup left on the counter has a portion with the handle intact the rest scattered around the countertop. Thinking like Sherlock Holmes I deduce the innocent mug was grabbed by a powerful jaw and brought down hard on the counter in defiance. Wow, the animal kingdom is wonderfully mystical. The proverbial finger is shaken; I scold Fisher with a resounding NO BAD DOG and move on. Complacency fell into place with Smokey Joe the road with Fisher will be long and winding.
Some dog owners use a retractable leash for training however, I use one allowing Fisher to roam in places I care not to be dragged into like stands of evergreen trees. With leash fully extended he stops, radar finds and eyes follow a squirrel’s fast escape up a tree as it leaps from branch to branch; every tree we pass gets a quick inspection. Suddenly, Fisher stops, lowers his head but looking forward spots a dog coming toward us about 60’ distance and decides to lay down Sphinx like, ears attentive and await the coming attraction. I try to intervene with a retracted leash but he is stubborn, strong, unyielding so we wait and as the other canine passes both trash talk. Close by an undeveloped field allows leash removal with Fisher wasting little time expressing sovereignty leaping like a gazelle over knee high grass on the trail of, wascally wabbits. Fisher darts left then right but the wabbits prove the faster finding security in thorny, blackberry bushes, maybe even blowing a raspberry or two. I watch in delight, the Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II serves as soundtrack.
The other night as the Blue Moon rose I decided to take an extracurricular walk in the park to view this astronomical event Fisher wanting to tag along beat me to gate, no leash. Occasional adult laughter emanating from the blackness, and there over the tree line looking menacing in its burnt orangie glow the second full moon of July. Fisher, enjoying free rein, sniffs around not venturing far (he knows who butters his bread) as I gaze in awe then back home but Fisher, having fun, takes up that Sphinx-like pose not wanting to head in similar to my plight as a child not wanting to go in when streetlights came on. Ignoring repeated calls I walk back wrestle a bit then moments later he follows under a burnt orangie moon.
Dogs are like children and require care and guidance. Medicine, outings, attention a lot of attention, leashes, clothes, food, school, love, etc your world changes and will with each dog. Smokey Joe gave me leeway Fisher reminds me nothing is easy.
The howling still puzzles me.