A dog with issues

I try to be the quintessential family man but occasionally I manage to really step in it.


It all started a few months ago when I inadvertently came home with some blond hairs on my jacket. Initially, all I got was a quizzical gaze. Then, a couple of days later I overlooked dealing with some little scratches until it was too late.

The curious gape became a dead stare and I ended up mumbling an excuse about wounding myself while checking the oil in my rig.

The final straw came when I walked into the cabin with a combo of the first two plus a new scent on my jeans. That’s when my old dog Howard had such a fit that he would have thrown a shoe if he had hooves. So I confessed. I had been seeing other dogs.

I couldn’t believe that Howard, who has an IQ two points lower than a jar of mayonnaise, was suddenly jealous of other pooches. He didn’t bat his one active brain cell when we adopted a small rescue dog from the shelter years ago. He gave it one sniff, sized it up as to being no threat to the blocks of food he considered snack kibbles, put the pup on his “tolerate” list and ambled off to soak his Humvee sized body in the sun. Why the angst this time?

This latest problem was set in motion when a fishing buddy informed me about the local shelter’s walk-a-dog program. He explained how volunteers take the animals out for exercise and thought that it might give me a chance to find out what it would be like to be around a real dog again after we lost  Little Bear a few months ago (Turk thinks the awesomely shaggy Howard should be in a zoo). He could be right. With normal dogs you can at least tell which end their butt’s on.

I didn’t give his suggestion much more thought until “The Incident.”

I had just settled in for an afternoon power nap when a moose wandered into the front yard. I didn’t know it but Howard did. He immediately surmised that he couldn’t get a good enough view from the door so he went thundering over Jane’s easy chair and launched himself onto the couch where he stood up on his back paws and let out a yowl that should have shattered every glass in the cabin.

Unfortunately I was his blast-off pad.

I could have forgiven the one claw that landed directly over a perfect pressure point for CPR sternum compressions but the other plowed in where male sopranos are born.

After regaining consciousness, my first thought was to wall-mount the beast but I calmed down enough to consider an alternative. Maybe if he had a serious playmate it would keep him so exhausted that he couldn’t crawl to the couch much less hurdle up if a another critter stumbled through the front forty.

I headed to the animal shelter.

My first walk-a-mutt was Mitch. Nice dog but a bit weird. The hound had “separation anxiety” issues. Its master alleged that if Mitch was left alone for over two hours he would attempt to devour the contents of the front room. Fortunately, the owner finally reclaimed him after she purchased what she declared was pet proof furniture. What is that, granite slab sofas with steel girder ottomans?

Mega mutt two was Buddy. He was a creature that one might politely describe as “eager and hefty” and more than able to pull eighteen-wheelers out of mudslides. The cur took me on a barely subsonic excursion that wore my boot heels off trying to slow him down before we hit the Kenai cutoff. Rumor has it that he was adopted by a logging outfit.

Marshmallow came next. She was a sweetheart and a cuddle freak. The lady had beautiful blue eyes and was as quiet as a bunny’s snore. Her only problem was that she shed like a high mountain Yak in Bermuda and would have totaled our dark green carpet.

Then I found Princess. She was extremely withdrawn and had scars that reflected a tough life. It has taken months but the miniature poodle has exploded into a loving and very clever pooch that has turned Howard into her personal body guard. He’s become so protective that he’d follow her or my wife into an active volcano. As for me, the traitor wouldn’t give Mike Tyson a warning snort if the cannibalistic pugilist was standing next to him chewing on my ear like it was a Louisiana hot wing.

Anyway, we are back to being an abnormal family and I no longer need to wear a cup when I nap. Animal shelters pay off in strange ways sometimes.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t still trying to sneak quality time with some needy mutts without being subjected to a formal body scan when he gets home.


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