Well. as current readers know, I have three dogs: Rowan, Myrddin and Aibhne. (Technically, Aibhne is Youngest's dog. She paid for her.) I've owned, or been owned depending on your point of view, several dogs over the years.
Scooter was a mutt rescued from the pound. We were never sure what his heritage might be- definitely some terrier, maybe some long-haired dachshund- but we didn't really care. He was my dog. He would follow me from room to room when he was younger. We got him when Youngest was maybe a year old. In fact, Youngest's first complete sentence was in reference to Scooter: "Dunno. Dog ate it." He was a handful when he was a pup, digging and running off. We actually rescued him from the pound twice but once he got a little older he was a great dog. He had his quirks, for sure. He hated the vacuum cleaner and would bark and bite at it until we had to put him outside. He liked to play hide and seek with Hubby and was quite persistent at it. I could also get him to bark on cue by yelling "help me!". He died about 3 weeks after we got Myrddin last year. He was mostly blind and mostly deaf and completely incontinent. Actually, it was more that he just didn't give a shit. If he got your attention at the door, great. If no, that was okay by him too. He was 17 when died. I cried like a baby.
Rowan joined us when Scooter was 14 and we hoped to give him some companionship in his golden years. Rowan thought Scooter was great. Scooter, on the other hand, was not so sure about the oafish puppy but mostly ignored him. From Scooter, Rowan learned how to pee. No lifting of legs for the arthritic elder statesman, he squatted like a girl. Rowan picked up on it and still goes this way. And passed the quirk onto Myrddin.
Rowan is quite intelligent and with that intelligence comes his share of neuroses. He is afraid of fireworks, the tile floor and plastic bags. Fireworks makes some sense I suppose. But the tile? And its not all the tile, really. It's just the tile in the entry. His fear of this varies. Sometimes, he is completely unable to cross the entry and get to our bedroom. Our entry has a step down into the living room on one side and a step down into the hall to our room on the other. One goes down to carpet, the other more tile and both are all of two or three inches high. The best we can figure is that once when he was a puppy he lost his traction going over the step into the hall and slid into the wall. Cause it's really the step that does him in. He will creep up to the step and peer around the wall and rock back and forth trying to screw up the courage to take the plunge. When he finally does, if he can, he doesn't just walk calmly. No, he has to run full tilt, legs akimbo and scamper into our room and generally onto the bed. Sometimes, he just can't do it. He'll look at us and whine and then give up. Now, when he leaves the entry he can't turn around. No, he has to back off. As in move in reverse. If you get in his way, he'll move forward, look over his shoulder and try to maneuver around you. I will admit that there are times when I have done this. Don't forget, this is a 62 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback/Boxer mix that his been known to scare people with his basso profundo bark. Yet the entry tile is his personal nemesis . It's hilarious. One day, I WILL get it on video. He's also afraid of plastic bags. Shake out a grocery bag and he'll clear the room. He also has a licker problem, as in he loves to lick you, himself, the couch, the blanket, the other dogs, any damn thing actually. That or corn cob it.
Myrddin is a Catahoula. That's a breed of hunting dog from Louisiana. He is one goofy dog. He's afraid of things, too. Loud sounds, mostly, but also not so sure of people outside the family. He takes a really long time to decide that someone is okay. They have to come over many, many times before he agrees to stay in the same room or stop barking at them and forget about getting close enough to be pet, that's right out. Though, once he decides that you're okay, he is politely friendly. Myrddin is not an enthusiastic greeter. Rowan will knock you down if you don't brace for impact. Myrddin will come up to you but he doesn't jump on you. He's a gentleman to Rowan's clown. What he really likes to do is chase things- birds, butterflies, airplanes, motorcycles, garbage trucks. If it's in the air, he'll run after it. He even bounds like a gazelle, almost like he's trying to fly himself. The funniest thing I've ever seen him do was spin in place because he couldn't decide who to bark at- the motorcycle on the other side of the fence or the squirrel on the roof. They were close enough to each other that he ended up spinning in a circle barking. When he gets in a frenzy of barking, its hard to stop him. Rowan, who doesn't like it anymore than we do, will get fed up if he's outside while Myrddin is barking. He's been known to charge across the yard and run Myrddin over like a linebacker. And when you've been run over by a solid 62 pound dog, you now it. Unless you're Myrddin. If you're him you just bounce back up and keep going. But without the barking.
If Rowan is the fruitcake and Myrddin is the freak, Aibhne is the Frank. As in Frank the pug from Men in Black. When she thinks you're doing something she doesn't like she growls just like Frank in the movie. When she was a tiny pup we could hold her and turn her on her side back and forth like Tommy Lee does in the movie to the pug and get the exact same noise. She likes to chase her tail and chase the boys. All the things that set off the boys- plastic bags, fireworks, the tile- they have no effect on her. She is fearless. See that strange look she's giving Myrddin up there? She gives both of them that look whenever they start doing something she doesn't understand. Both Myrddin and Rowan like to chase light from a flashlight or laser pointer. They go nuts. She doesn't get it. (Rowan, in fact, is so mad for the light that you have to be careful with him in the car that your iPod or watch crystal or a soda can or some damn thing doesn't reflect the light cause he will go nuts trying to get at it. He also knows the words flashlight and laser pointer. Seriously, those are banned words in our house cause he gets so hyper when he hears them.) Aibhne does, however, think the vacuum cleaner is neat to chase. While the boys think its something they need to hide from.
I've had lots of dogs growing up, but always smaller dogs. Now that I've owned larger dogs, I'm not going back. Maybe it was just the breeds that we had when I was growing up (Miniature Poodle and Cairn Terrier) but they were not anywhere nearly as entertaining or loyal. Except for the one thing the Poodle did. I grew up in Houston and roaches were a constant battle. And not just any roach. They were the big kind. We called them tree roaches. They were at least an inch or two long and the fuckers could fly. This dog, Jodie, liked to catch a roach, flip it onto its back and slowly pull off its legs. Generally on just one side. She'd even roll on them and listen for the "pop". She would eventually get bored with it and walk away. This was the best part. We'd wait. Sooner or later the roach would decide that she was gone and flip itself over. At which point it could only crawl in circles because of the aforementioned one-sided leg pulling. Then, we'd kill it and put it out of our misery. Guess what? Aibhne appears to be channeling the ghost of Jodie. We don't get them too often but she has had the opportunity to follow in Jodie's footsteps. She got bored too quickly to really do the job right but I have high hopes that I will once again have a roach killer in the house.
As you know if you've been paying attention, I am a dog person. I think they're wonderful beings who can teach us a few things if we'll let them. I leave you with some of my favorite quotes about dogs.
"Every world has dogs or their equivalent, creatures that thrive on companionship, creatures that are of a high order of intelligence although not of the highest, and that therefore are simple enough in their wants and needs to remain innocent. The combination of their innocence and their intelligence allows them to serve as a bridge between what is transient and what is eternal, between the finite and the infinite." Dean Koontz, "One Door Away from Heaven"
"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." - Unknown
"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace." - Milan Kundera
"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.”- Samuel Butler