We have adopted another dog. Okay, I adopted another dog and Patrick did not complain loudly enough for me to take notice so by default, we have adopted another dog.
Henry is our new son’s name. He is a four-year-old boxer, brindle-coated and big-hearted. He has a few issues, none of which he recognizes. He was hit and dragged by a truck somewhere in South Carolina before we adopted him. As a result, he is deaf to all but the loudest, sharpest noises. Commands, conversation, food bowls rattling, thunderstorms, his own name, are all lost to him. The downside to this is that he’s not really good at coming when called. The upside is that he is a very sound sleeper, the best in the house. At times, I seriously envy his ability to nap in the midst of chaos. Can you imagine how useful this skill would be? Just take air travel; no longer will it matter that the toddler in the seat behind you has screamed long enough to pop her own lung. Just doze through it all. Heaven.
Henry’s front left paw is a bit clunky and he’ll begin to limp if he runs too much, particularly if tight turns are involved. There is an even more obvious symptom from the accident though. He has a blunt stump where his back left leg should be. Yep, he’s missing one of his back legs. He runs, jumps, corners, and chases with the best of them and only seems to be bothered by the missing leg if he needs to scratch something on his left side. The stump pumps up and down, but the foot that is no longer there never gets the itchy spot properly scratched. Henry clearly finds this frustrating and increases his efforts, the stump moving furiously but to no avail. Eventually, he’ll tire and give up.
Henry is an instant best friend forever to all. He has never met a dog, bird, pig, or cat that he didn’t want to engage in play. Not all animals feel the same about him, though. Since he’s deaf, he does not hear the potential playmate decline his invitation by growling and awkward circumstances can arise. He’s learning. My other pets are learning. They’ll find a way.
Our Basset hound, Clara Jack, has certainly found ways to work with Henry. Not all her ideas are going to win her the Good-Dog-of-the-Year award. She has figured out how to guarantee success in the game of “keep away” and it’s not pretty. It’s effective, but it’s just not pretty.
One day Clara Jack and Henry were roiling through the house at breakneck speed, over armchairs and under tables, a flurry of flapping ears and slinging spit. The object of the game was to possess the rawhide chewy that had been designated The One. I don’t know how a particular chewy becomes the most desirable, most delicious, and most coveted. There are approximately a dozen rawhide chewies laying about the house at any given time, all the same. Then, for some unknown reason, one of the chewies magically ascends into the stratosphere of Oneness. It, above all other chewies, is deemed to be The One. No other rawhide will do.
Life is pale and incomplete unless you hold The One. If you possess The One no one else is allowed to look at it, much less sniff or God forbid, touch it. The One is not to be shared. Like the ring in Tolkien’s tales, The One bestows both fulfillment and paranoia upon its owner. There is dangerous, dark power in rawhide chews.
Clara Jack lost her grip on The One as she was executing a tight turn near the staircase. Henry saw his chance and jumped on it, snagging the precious chewy before it skidded to a stop. Then he made a tactical error. Henry stopped to enjoy his moment of victory. As Henry stood in full regal glory, head proudly held high, mouth full of slippery rawhide, Clara Jack charged. The stumpy-legged Basset hound freight trained toward Henry as if her very life depended on getting that chewy back. Just inches away, Clara raised her front paws and hit the boxer broad side. Three legs are not as sturdy as four, and Henry tipped over like a snoozing cow.
Clara Jack came to a full stop. She stood over Henry, amazed. Whenever she hits Joe the mastiff like that, he barely turns his head to look around. But Henry, he fell completely over. Wow. You could see the wheels churning in her head. Clara Jack forgot about The One and watched Henry stand up again. She sniffed and circled, gathering data. Then she got all scientific on his ass. She went to Henry’s right side, put both her paws up on him and tipped him over. Again.
Talk about your demonstrable results! Talk about a happy Basset hound! Talk about a pissed Boxer. Clara Jack learned that if you hit Henry broadside on his right, he falls right over. Henry learned that the Basset cannot be trusted. They’ve played “keep away” since then and Clara Jack always tries to work in the new weapon in her arsenal, dog tipping. Henry is learning to turn and face her head-on, protecting his flanks from attack. He doesn’t always get turned in time, and she gleefully nails him to the floor.
Henry has tried to bowl the Basset over several times, but Clara’s center of gravity is so low, it’s nearly impossible to flip her. One day though, he was outside on the hill and caught her concentrating on an errant scent she’d picked up. She did not see him coming, full speed, down the hill and looked up too late to react. It turns out that not only can you tip a Basset hound, but given enough speed you can cause one to tumble down the hill for a good ways before they are able to right themselves. I’ve never seen Henry look so satisfied. I’ve never seen Clara Jack look so completely gob smacked.
I wonder if the Joint Chiefs of Staff think about strategy as much as my dogs do? I wonder if they’re as creative. I certainly hope they’re as effective. Who knows? Maybe they are working on a country-tipping plan even now.