Every time I talk or write about my dog, I get asked the same question. “What kind of dog do you have?” Every time I give the same answer: “Stupid.”
We named him after the great canine legend, Hank The Cowdog. We hoped by osmosis or some other big word, our puppy would grow to be as brave, wise and musically inclined as his namesake. Fat chance.
He’s like an intellectually challenged UnderDog sans the cape. With a single leap he was over our fence and those of three neighbors. Except he didn’t know how to reverse the path and get home. My backyard neighbor Ruby still likes to tell the ladies at the beauty salon about the day she came home to find my rear sticking out of her doggie door as I tried to lure Hank out of her garage with a milkbone.
In our next house we installed an invisible fence and clipped on the shocker collar. Hank saw cats. Hank chased cats. Hank got shocked, yelped and kept running. We met lots of new neighbors. I became known as “the lady with the dog that always runs away.”
We paid extra and upgraded to the “Stubborn Dog” collar. The shocker unit is the size of a sandwich. Hank saw cats. Hank chased cats. Hank got shocked, yelped louder and kept running. I inadvertently taught the kids next door new words. I met more neighbors. I called my husband (Hank waits to run away until Scott is traveling) and screamed, “You need to do something about this dog!” He reminded me the kids and I conspired against him to get the dog in the first place.
Recently I watched Hank bark at a cat in our backyard. There was two feet of space between them. Hank barked ferociously but stayed put. The cat yawned. “Finally!” I exhaled, “The dog has learned his boundaries. He won’t get shocked to reach the cat.”
The next day I observed Hank lounging, unshocked, in the exact spot the cat occupied the prior day. My hound dog is afraid of cats.
Hank’s inherent survival tendencies are much like those of our children: Good thing he’s cute or else he’d be a memory. Unlike our children, I’ve the advantage of reminding Hank I rescued him from the city pound death chamber. He should be grateful and act accordingly. Our children, we hope, will show gratitude for us giving them great genes and a pantry full of sugar bomb cereal.
Hank tested those tendencies again this weekend. When it started to rain, we called him in for the night. No Hank. I jumped in the van and found him 5 blocks away. When I got out and offered him a treat, he ran the opposite direction. After an hour of futile searching, I decided hamsters were underrated and went home.
My headlights shone in our yard onto the most innocent looking dog, curled up in his favorite spot as if he’d never left.
Good thing he’s cute.