HOT DIGGETY DOG


It’s no secret that I am a dog lover. I have given my heart to several Dachshunds, to several German Shepherd Dogs, a Doberman Pincher, an Old English Sheepdog, even a Chihuahua. One or two were second hand blessings, the others took a bite out of our wallets. Our lives today are enriched by a slightly overweight Jack Russell Terrier with a grand sense of adventure.

charlie (4)
He’s not allowed on this chair

Charlie first became an entity by way of daily e-mail photos from our late son-in-law who claimed this puppy, brother to his pup, was “cute as hell” and we would do well to come to Southern California and see him. We named his picture “Charlie” after a brief naming process, and at seven weeks we were his.

Slow moving tender-hearted Sheepdogs sleep where they are pointed, eat when you get around to it, come when they are called, seldom bark, and generally simply want to please. Nothing is a hardship for them and they plod along with or without restraint for miles at a time, casually checking out the occasional squirrel or rabbit on the trail. Another astonishing and marvelous attribute, at least in the case of Panda—in spite of dense, curly fur; she did not shed. Leaves and dirt clods came in contact with her feet, but she left no hair. Not so with a JRT as those who own one will attest. It’s a credit to tight follicles that they have any hair left. We lasted two months without a dog when Panda left us, and it is difficult not to have something on the end of a leash.

Playpen
Playpen from thrift store

My father was a no nonsense dog lover who came from the age when most dogs ate table scraps and slept outside. He would not have understood our anthropomorphizing a tiny seven week addition to our family, but things are different today. Dog food comes in many varieties, even for different breeds and sizes. Pets feel their natural place is on our beds, even believing it their right to push their owners to the edge.

There were six puppies in Charlie’ family, and our daughter found homes for all of them. Soon afterward, she hired a trainer and gave a puppy party for the pups and their owners. It’s a Southern California kind of thing. The puppies didn’t learn much and neither did the owners, but presents were exchanged and food consumed and it was fun.

Puppy Party (2)
The Puppy Party

Charlie is now eight, and his description as a seeker of adventure is well known to neighbors who now and then raise the alarm “Charlie’s out!” He has never seen an open door which has not called to him. Ours is the only house I know of in which a kennel sits by the front door where Charlie is funneled when the doorbell rings.

In the privacy of our house and rather large garden, Charlie responds to the slightest summons in jig time, but once out, the world is his oyster, and it’s a game of “catch-me-if-you-can.”

Charlie isn’t perfect, but neither are we. He has given us eight years of his life, filled with amusement at his antics, interspersed with keeping a close watch on all the doors opening into the neighborhood. He has the rare quality that some of us lack, the ability to make friends immediately.

THROUGH A DOG’S EYES


Liza

We are a dog-loving family, never having gone more than a month or two without benefit of loving brown eyes waiting to see what else they can do for you.  After one such period, I answered an ad for German Shepherd pups, and came home with an adorable black puppy whom we named Bella for beautiful.

However, it soon became apparent that there was something very wrong with the pup, so I took her to a well-respected breeder in Washington state to have her evaluated.  The breeder was a German woman whose mother had a large kennel in Germany.  She looked at the pup’s papers and then called several employees over to see the dog.  It seems that through ill-informed breeding this little thing would have a limited life-span, demanding constant care and expense.

After telling the breeder what we wanted in a dog, she asked us to come back in a few days after she had chosen several we might like.  When we returned, she had us go into small stall with about 4 cute 8 week old pups while she waited outside a Dutch door to watch.  As the little pups scrambled all over one another, climbing over and under, one went under a small bench seemingly wanting our attention.  As we went to collect her, the breeder crossly asked “What are you doing?”  We answered that this was the one we wanted.  She said “But THAT is the one who wants YOU!”  pointing out the tiny pup who was trying to shred my raincoat!

I learned a good lesson that day.  Don’t answer an  unqualified ad, and always choose the pup who wants to be with YOU.  Training is easy and fun with someone who wants to please you from the get-go.  You can have a wonderful dog otherwise, but it will take longer to make them trust you implicitly.

I returned Liza to the breeder in a few months to have them look at her.  She was becoming a fabulous looking dog, and they felt they had made a mistake in selling her as a “companion dog”.  She was descended from a long line of international champions, and they tried to convince us to show her.  However, we opted not to take on the responsibility of long hours of care and dog shows.

We lived in the country at that time, with a horse corral in the rear of our property.  When a very young grandson came to visit, Liza herded him away from the fence and back into his proper place.  She guarded us that same way the rest of her life.

Liza was our constant companion for many years, going everywhere with us, whether camping, to the mountains or the seashore, or simply grocery shopping.  She was a fixture in my sculpture studio greeting people as they came in to chat or to share a cup of coffee.  She was a party animal with a big tail wag for everyone.

There is a small sculpture and a large photo of Liza in our home, reminding us that she was a great part of our lives.  Though we have had a number of lovely dogs since then, including a terrific Jack Russell terrier now, Liza will always hold top honors in our hearts.  She was truly a Champion.