I had not seen the bold, bossy cat in a few days, so I decided I better had look around for her. In fact, I had seen almost no cats at all.
As I was pondering this, I heard a piteous, mournful meow, one I never had heard from any of our cats. I followed the sound up the stairs, up and around – until there, on top of the highest boxes in the back end of the storage area, I saw Sprinkles, with the oddest, saddest and most worrisome look on her face.
The only way to handle this was to shut the wriggling, determined, excited dog at my feet into another room. I had not seen much of the cats since I had taken in the stray several days earlier. The time he and Sprinkles met, she stared him down, and he walked away, so I had thought that was settled.
I had underestimated the prowess and determination of a hunting dog.
I shut him in a room and set up a step ladder to get the cat. She used to fly around like a squirrel when she was young and thin, but now that she was old and fat, there didn’t seem to be any way she’d get down on her own.
Alas, the dog cheerfully showed back up and leapt up onto me. He had gone through the closet maze and back out the other room. I held the twisting, squirming cat until I could get her to the room and shut the door behind her, pushing back the energetic dog with my leg.
I took in this stray last week and searched through every avenue for its owner. He looks like a pointer mix, but if all he did was point at the chickens, things wouldn’t be so crazy. He just runs around and around the coop, causing the chickens to scurry every which way.
Occasionally I take in dogs, helping strays or pet-sitting for friends. Visiting dogs have varying reactions to the cats and chickens, but it always has ended up smooth.
That’s a darn shame, because apart from his ceaseless drive to get after the cats and chickens, he has the best disposition of any dog I’ve encountered.
When he arrived, my dog looked at him and gave a low grumble out of one side of her mouth. He dipped his head down low and waited politely for her to walk away and then followed submissively. They’ve been best buds ever since.
When I’m at work, I leave him in the house, enclosed in the family room and kitchen. Oddly, he hasn’t shown any reaction to the parrots who stay in there. He hasn’t torn up anything or made any messes.
When I get home, I run around with him and our family dog for a few minutes in the front yard, out of sight of the chicken coop. The two run joyfully together. When he runs as far off as I want him to, I call him, and he curves his run around back to me in a long, graceful loop.
He keeps his eye on me and follows my orders, by word or hand, to come or sit or stay. At night, he walks upstairs behind me, and the other dog and lies down on his doggie bed next to hers on the floor.
I had illusions that I could train him out of the chasing – because I am consistent, and he is attentive. However, the instinct in him is so strong and powerful it’s actually magical to see – at least, if it weren’t my cats and chickens who don’t have a moment’s peace.
Plus, I’ve been well trained in curbing instincts – including reading far more books than that dog ever will – and sure wish I could fit back into size 6, yet if there’s a cake over there, I’m getting a slice. If there’s a chicken over there, that dog is chasing it.
So someone’s perfect pet will be waiting at the SPCA. If you are looking for a calm, friendly dog who stays politely at your feet and follows your every command, there he will be, with the bonus of getting along well with your other dogs.
If you have cats or chickens, walk over to the next kennel and look at that dog instead.
I’ve always seen notes on the dogs available for adoption, with messages such as “prefers to be only dog” or “best in family without young children” or “not good with cats” or “acclimated to cats.” Now I see the immense value in those descriptions.
This dog has been a lesson to me that there is a lot to learn about personality before taking the plunge.
Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.