Ever since our wonderful family dog, Sousa, died two summers ago at the age of 16, and even before that happened, my children were teasing for another dog. They wanted a replacement. I understood their sense of urgency because except for three years of apartment living following college, I have never been without a dog.
I explained not all dogs are created equal and the odds of finding a dog with a personality as winning as our last dog’s was just that – odd. Even if you get a dog with the right genetic stuff, you still have to employ a great deal of training to shape its behavior and to nurture its relationship with family. I’m not interested in acquiring any old dog, I want a good one.
Life being what it is, instead of a new dog, I acquired a new job with hours so unpredictable they weren’t conducive to houseplant tending, let alone dog ownership. As I knew better than to add any more moving parts or mouths to feed to my already overloaded dance card, I moth-balled the replacement dog idea until that “someday, when it’s a better time” fabled future parents use to cushion their children’s landing as we pinprick their more far-fetched dreams.
You also don’t need an actuarial to calculate the added risk pet ownership adds to your life. My propensity for attracting stupid situations told me said pet would likely get freakily hurt and saddle me with a dead horse of a veterinary bill. Or I’d suddenly have to replace living room carpeting due to chewing by the new dog to which I would be having trouble finding enough time to pay attention.
In short, all signs in my life surrounding new dog acquisition were octagonal and red, with the word “STOP” printed across in bold, white letters. But dogs can’t read. And apparently no one read the signs to the one that took up residence at my place for most of last weekend.
When I opened the door off my side porch at 5:30 AM Saturday morning to let in our two cats that had spent the night on midnight prowl, instead of hungry meows, I was greeted with loud, hearty barks. What the heck? Taken aback, I threw on the outdoor light and found myself face to face with a strange, snarling canine.
Nothing quite prepares you for such a scenario. I was startled, but took a step forward toward the danger to assert my dominance. Sometimes, that actually works. It did in this case, with the stray dog jumping backward in comparable surprise. But no sooner did he land than he went back to barking at me.
“No need to get all defensive on my account because this was MY house when I last checked and you’re the one who is the trespasser.” I said accusingly to the flashing set of eyes. The dog only growled in response. I stepped back inside the porch, two startled cats diving in after me for cover. They were equally unimpressed with our guest.
When I left to run errands on Saturday, the stray dog circled me and barked menacingly as I got into my vehicle. This necessitated me swinging my medieval weapon of a purse at him. When I returned late afternoon, the dog was still there, hanging out under my front porch. He rose to greet me with a series of vicious barks and lunges toward me.
I left the door to the house open when I carried in groceries and the dog slipped inside, subtle as a stealth bomber. I nearly tripped over him as I carried in two large bags. “GET OUT” I screeched in my least hospitable tone. My collarless friend tucked his tail between his legs and trotted back outside to his under-the-porch-squatter’s digs.
Saturday night after dark, no matter what room of the house I was in, he followed around the perimeter of the house, barking at me. Oh, c’mon! When my children arrived home Sunday night, they used the barking dog’s hindquarters as an Airsoft gun target and outshouted his barking with shrill kid tones. Come Monday, the dog was gone. Replacement test reject.