When I was just L'il Val, I had a pet miniature poodle. Of course he was a pet. It's not like he was livestock, or a blood relative. Buster was a black ball of fluff until he got his summer haircut, and then appeared svelte and dapper, prancing through the kitchen, click-clicking his newly-trimmed toenails, with red ribbons tied on each side of his head to give him "dog ears." If you were a girl in the 70s, you know what I mean.
Let the record show that Buster was an Einstein of the dog world. So easy to teach tricks. Recognizing many words, leading to his downfall when one wanted to get rid of him and said, "Is GRANDMA here?" Off he'd run to the front door to wait for my mom's mom to come in. Even when she wasn't coming. Sometimes, Buster would get embarrassed by the old throw the ball but hold it trick, and lay down and put his head under the couch. He knew all of his toys by name, and would trot off to find them when you asked. Ball and Bone were his favorites, orange in color, and smelling of vanilla.
My sweet, sweet Juno is smart in a working dog kind of way. You might say she has yard smarts. Juno sees little need to run after a tossed item and bring it back. She will run sniff it, just in case she's missing something, but she returns empty-mouthed. She's also an accomplished thief, with a doghouse containing all but one of Puppy Jack's toys.
I didn't think Puppy Jack was going to be all that smart. He couldn't seem to master going down the porch steps, choosing instead to leap, stretched out like Superman, off the porch right beside the steps, a distance of about 3 feet into the lava rock that surrounds Hick's rock garden. In addition, he chose to spend his first nights free of his hutch (oh, who are we kidding, EVERY night since he was freed from his hutch) sleeping over on the gravel road in front of Shackytown, some nights up inside the undercarriage of the Gator, even though there are two perfectly good nearly-new store-bought doghouses on the end of the porch. Some days (okay, most days) he won't even come when he's called. At first I thought he might have a hearing problem, but if I was holding him when The Pony started out the door with his food, he heard the faintest snick of the doorknob turning, and tried to thrash himself out of my grip. That dog loves to eat.
Monday, I came home from my DMV mission around 11:30 a.m. I slung my ratty 20-year-old cracked-leather-handled brown purse over my forearm, grabbed my precious 44 oz Diet Coke in that hand, and stepped out of the garage to the side porch. There was Puppy Jack, looking like an abandoned canine orphan. He does that at the side porch. Gets the sad look, ears laid back. Maybe it's trauma from cat-bullying. They hang out there.
I reached up into the cat-kibble roaster pan and picked up three little pieces for Jack. He has to watch his figure, you know, or he can get long-back trouble. That dog will eat anything he can find that is remotely edible. He snarfed up the kibble almost before it was out of my hand. I went up the steps and past Gassy-G the auction grill, rounded the corner past Juno's custom-made house, and put my hand on the kitchen doorknob.
Jack had trotted along behind me. He started around the curved, windowed, table nook part of the house, toward the dogs' food pans. He looked hopefully at me, over his shoulder.
"Oh, Puppy Jack! You silly thing! I'm NOT feeding you any more!"
Jack went around the corner, and as I opened the door, he came back. Looked at me. Turned to head back to the food pans, looking at me over his shoulder again. Persistent little fellow! I went inside, and had not even passed the front counter when I heard Jack barking outside the laundry room. "Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf!" In his little puppy voice. Where we keep the big metal trash can filled with dogfood.
"Pony! Do you hear Jack? Maybe something is out there on the back porch. A possum again. Or a neighbor's dog. Or he's just barking for me to feed him." The Pony ran upstairs to check it out while I double-cupped my 44 oz Diet Coke and began preliminary preparations for a plate of Super Nachos.
"Nothing there. I guess he DOES want food."
"Wait! That's my phone. Your dad always picks the worst time to text me. Huh. He says, 'I did not feed Jack this morning.' THAT'S what he's doing! Telling us he didn't get breakfast. Go feed him, Pony."
More on this little chow-hound tomorrow.