Saturday, January 19, 2008
Master of his domain
Butch's blindness hasn't diminished his determination to protect "his" property. He seems to know immediately when a strange dog comes around, and he makes sure the new dog knows not to mess with his yard.
Since yesterday afternoon, the biggest yellow lab I've ever seen has been hanging around my next-door neighbor's yard. He's an enormous, muscular, fully intact male and seems to be attracted to my neighbor's girlie dog, who is following him around with a big doggy-smile on her face, as if her handsome prince has finally arrived.
It isn't unusual for Kadi to wake me in the middle of the night, but Butch rarely does. At 4:00 a.m. this morning, though, he nudged me with such an urgency that I was sure Nature must be calling him on the Red Phone. Nope, that wasn't it. Stranger-Dog was back, and Butch's urgent need was to go outside to bark at him. At 4:00 a.m. When all my neighbors were sleeping.
As soon as I figured out what Butch's game was, I began trying to get him back inside the house to end it. He couldn't see my waving arms, obviously, and he couldn't hear my whispers because of his barking. I didn't want to yell his name. If there was any chance that his barking hadn't disturbed the neighbors, I didn't want my yelling to wake them. (Besides, if I didn't yell his name, maybe they wouldn't realize which neighborhood dog was being the nuisance.) Finally, he stopped barking to take a breath, and I called out one word: "Treats!"
That did it. Maybe he thought that was a way to back down without losing face. "Okay, Big Guy," he might have growled. "You lucked out this time, because I don't want to miss out on the biscuit, but you and I both know I coulda kicked your ass."
After that, we slept until it was really morning, and then I let Butch and Kadi outside again. Stranger-dog was still there. I didn't see him when I first opened the door, but Butch took off running toward the fence as if his tail were on fire and started up the fierce barking all over again. When I put on my robe and stepped outside, the first thing I saw was our little fig tree shaking wildly. On the other side of the fence, Stranger-Dog stood perfectly still, watching the action intently but apparently not too disturbed about it. Then I saw Butch. He was behind the fig tree, barking furiously, and wiggling for all he was worth to scratch his butt on the fence. Whoa! I bet that intimidated the big fellow.
(First published at Velvet Sacks on June 25, 2006.)