It’s been a while since my last doggie update. That’s a shame because so much of life has become all about doggies. For those of you who missed out, we are the proud owners of three miniature Australian shepherds. No wait, they’re about to become American shepherds. Don’t ask me why, I really don’t want to know. Probably has something to do with the designated hitter or greater use of the instant replay in football. Not my problem.
As you know our big world o’ dogs has changed the last year. My much missed Jack died last May. At times it seems like years ago, at other moments it feels like yesterday. He was really special and there are times I think about him and let out a big sigh.
That left Lucy as “the only dog.” Let me be clear about something. I’ve become the kind of person I used to make fun of. You know what I’m talking about, the guy who talks to his dogs like they’re people, fusses at them, cajoles them, is at once enthralled with or disappointed by them. But I get it now. The boys are grown and gone, no grandchildren on the horizon (not a judgement, just fact.) So the dogs become the little people in your life. What destroyed me most when we lost Jack was not just that he was a great dog carved from alabaster that sat on the living room mantle, but he was my friend. He was my companion and I loved spending time with him. Yes he was tempermental and could occasionally be naughty, but I have really good human friends that fit that description too. Heck, I’m describing me.
So you know the story, with Jack gone, we felt Lucy needed a buddy, so in July Amos came to live at our house. I’ve shared in previous posts that Amos is beautiful, but is pretty shy and timid. Hah! Times change, but more about that later. Then in October, as my blogs were being locked away by Google forever, Rusty came to live with us. We’re three months down the road now and it’s time for an update.
First, Lucy remains the queen of the domain. She’s nearly twelve now, and not so spry as we’d like. It would help a lot if she wasn’t quite so fond of eating ALL THE TIME. Even so, she still loves going for walks and can jump up on our bed when she is so inclined, which is most days. You see, age has its privileges, and because she is the best behaved of all the Aussie pooches in the world, Lucy is able to roam freely during the work day while the boys are in their crates. However, age does take it toll. Lucy constantly jumps at the back door to be let out to sniff around the backyard. However this frequently triggers a stampede of certain boy dogs that shall remain nameless. Though she is usually the first one at the door to be let out, she is usually the last one to step on the deck. One can almost see her shaking her head in disbelief and hear her muttering. (But there I go again anthropomorphizing.)
If Lucy is the same stable, sensible Lucy she’s always been, then Amos is the Aussie that changed the most the past few months. Amos remains the most beautiful dog I’ve ever seen. He’s also the most cuddly, lovable dog I’ve ever been around. We are governed by the Amos rule at our house. When I’m home working at the computer, like right now, he wants to be with me. But when Lorri gets home, usually a couple hours later than me, he casts me aside for my wife. I remember this feeling from about thirty-five years and my relationships with women. We don’t think Amos ever sleeps. Unlike the other two dogs, he is very much a night owl. When I go to bed at 9:15-10:00 Lucy and Rusty are both ready and they head down the hall to their beds–but not our little red merle friend. He loves to stay up late with Lorri, and if he never had to sleep in his crate it would be fine with him. In fact, we had to make a crate change for young Mr. Amos. Amos would nightly do a jail break, finding a way to pry the door pegs out of their retaining holes. He was happy as a clam and so proud of himself.
Amos also became a lot more social. We had several groups of company over for the holidays, and Amos greatly endeared himself to them by sitting with them and cuddling up close. This is a big difference from the reluctant Amos of a few months ago. My mom, a bit of a dog skeptic was completely won over by his beauty and his niceness. However, Amos has moved on from being Mr. Timid. He is now Mr. Watchdog, protector of the universe. Any foreign noise inspires an explosion of shrill barking that Rusty and Lucy happily join in. Amos knows there are little barky dogs over the back fence and he is happy to go and “call them” for a little canine celebration of the seasons, or whatever other excuse they need to explode in a cacophony of doggie sound effects. Even more astounding is the efforts Amos takes to assert himself with his doggie siblings. He is not above filching food from Rusty’s bowl. And Rusty, a good deal bigger than sweet, cute Amos lets him do it. Even so, it is fun to see the little guy become a happy, funny member of our family. I love to see him smile. There is nothing more beautiful on this earth.
Last, but far from least, is my Rusty dog. I think some dogs are just meant to be with certain people. Rusty was meant to be with us. Specifically with me. Amos is pretty much Lorri’s dog when she is home. Rusty is pretty much my dog. Rusty is a fabulous mix of sweetness, energy, athleticism and downright naughtiness that gets my attention and affection. Rusty is a couple years older than Amos, so he’s a bit of a big brother, but not in any way that’s particularly useful. He loves to be busy and he loves toys more than either of the other two. They may be jealous that he has so many of him, but neither Lucy or Amos have any clue about what to do with them or any desire to learn. Tuggie toys, chew toys, Nylabones, they are Rusty’s stock in trade. And he needs them, because that dog will chew on all most anything. Rusty loves to go on walks. When he sees his leash he points his nose in the air to help put it on. Without it Rusty is a bit of a nomad. If I take him out to get the mail or the paper in the dark without a leash, it’s almost a guarantee I’ll spend the next twenty minutes looking for him in the rain, wind, ice, he doesn’t care and is happy to to explore. Though he’ll respond to a command about 50 percent of the time, he’s so affable about it that it’s hard to be cranky with him. His biggest failing is around food. Rusty has the most sensitive nose I’ve ever encountered. He can stretch all the way up and over the counter and doesn’t always respond to No!, Down!, or Off! the first, second or third time.
Despite this, Rusty is my bosom companion. He follows me around the house everywhere. To my den, at my feet. He climbs up in lap (and he isn’t lap dog sized.) He is the nicest dog, and doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He loves to wash my face and nibble my ears-and I love it. He looks at me with his large expressive eyes, and smiles with his whole body-his body shakes with excitement. He cries when I leave the house. He tries to get on the treadmill with me. If only I could read to him, listen to Pink Floyd with him, or take him to a ball game. In many respects Rusty has lots of Jack’s attributes and some of the negative ones too. But Rusty is more intimate than Jack, and that’s what I really enjoy about our relationship.
If this all sounds a little too touch-feely, or too doggie for you, I completely understand. Ten years ago I would likely say the same thing. Maybe I would have said the same thing a year ago until I realized how special and important my furry little buddies are to me.