Many’s the time I’ve thought about giving him away. Maybe a notice on Facebook: “Free to good home. Four-year-old neutered male, 44 pounds, shots current, housebroken. Loves people and other dogs. Breed uncertain. Only a little neurotic.”
He arrived at my home, a pup in the arms of a friend who’d found him abandoned.
“I already have two dogs!” she pleaded. I had one dog, Daphne, a mixed-breed black lab, dear to my heart. She was seven at the time, and I thought that was a good age to bring on another dog—old enough to teach the younger dog manners and young enough so the two could run and play together. Turns out, she barely tolerates him.
This pup had all the features neither one of us wanted in a dog. He’s male. That leg-up thing alone is a non-starter. I spent an entire career putting up with obnoxious males who assumed they had the proverbial leg-up on me and other women.
But we’re talking about a dog. He sheds copiously, his light fur floating through the house, mixing with Daphne’s black, mandating daily vacuuming. I named him Tawny in accord with his color. I should have named him Coyote in accord with his personality. He has all the characteristics of the mythical native coyote trickster, including a “gotcha” grin.
He never fails to take advantage if a door or gate is accidentally left open. Off he goes on a wild chase around the neighborhood, ignoring my commands and/or pleas to “Come!” If I try to catch him, he dances off, thrilled to be playing this game. After fifteen or twenty minutes of running and sniffing, he returns home, panting, deliriously happy.
His worst trait: he digs. Yesterday afternoon I saw him digging where I’d just planted flowers. I don’t hit dogs, especially not Tawny. A strong vocal command alone terrifies him. (I suspect he was abused as a pup by the human who ultimately dumped him.) I rarely am lucky enough to catch him in the act, so I burst out of the house yelling, “NO! STOP DIGGING! BAD, BAD, DOG!” He immediately ran to a far corner of the yard, where he cowered for hours.
Eventually we get over these escapades. He rests his chin on my knee and looks at me with eyes that spell love. He’s not the dog I wanted, but he’s the dog I have. Or does he have me?
(To celebrate my 75th birthday this month, I’m posting daily stories about the stuff I’ve acquired over a lifetime and can’t let go of. Tawny’s not “stuff,” but I sure can’t let go of him. I invite you to consider the stories attached to the stuff you treasure—maybe even share them.)