Tag Archives: Charlie and Murphy

Charlie & Murphy — What “Intention” Shows Us

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So I took this photo today of Charlie, our rescue pooch. In it, he’s standing amidst the wreckage of a modest plastic laundry basket that I thought would make a nice dog toy bin, as it had survived in this house for several years before he arrived.

What?

What?

Charlie is about 15 months old now. I realize that makes me sound like a really screwed-up “dog parent” but I mention his age in months because while he’s over a year, physically, he’s still quite a puppy mentally. Or maybe this is who he is.

His adult teeth have been grown in for at least seven months, yet he is a chewer. He is such a chewer that he has shown Murphy, our 7-year-old golden retriever, how it’s done.

Murphy really could not care less about nylabones or rope toys or rubber tug toys or giant knot pulls or a moccasin or a scarf, a chair, a rug fringe, a beach towel, a fire log, a down jacket, a pair of leather boots, a piece of trim on a cabinet, a Jimmy Page DVD box, a remote control, a set of headphones, an uncashed birthday check for $100, an electric guitar cord, a garden hose, a wah-wah pedal, a text book, a yoga book, a set of crayons, a bottle of Murphy’s Oil Soap, shin guards, a candle, an LL Bean tote bag, flip flops, a few cleats, a BBQ glove, a newspaper, an empty cardboard box, an empty cereal bag, a broom handle, a snow shovel, a volley, soccer, basket, foot, playground -ball, a book by Roz Chast and so much more. Murphy doesn’t care. Murphy couldn’t be bothered.

As you can see, just today, here is Murphy simply not giving a damn about Charlie’s basket.

No. No. No. This is not interesting to me.

No. No. No. This is not interesting to me. I want to see what Mom is doing. Get your hand off my back. 

Why?

“WHY NOT MURPH?!? LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF! C’MONNNNNN!!!” Begs Charlie.

Because Murphy was intended. And Charlie was not.

Murphy’s whole being — from the mounting of his wild, long-haired, as-flaxen-as-wheat father “Kirby” onto his sainted dogly, calm, freckle-nosed, light blonde mother, “Bonnie” — Murphy was intended.

“We’d like a mellow golden. One that is beautiful of course, but that is not too crazy, like Zeus, over there bounding up and down along the gate… And not too dark, because then they start to look like Irish Setters, which are completely insane, and I won’t have that…” I remember thinking, if not actually saying to the breeder, almost seven and a half years ago.

Why? Why did we go to a breeder? Well, it’s simple: our youngest son was still quite little, just four, and every golden retriever rescue we tried didn’t work out.

We had to surrender our first one, “Skipper,” because he was massive, a ton of energy and knocked over my kids constantly. Skipper was gorgeous: he had the big blocky head, and flame-colored eyes. He came to me by way of my Creative Memories (remember those days?) consultant.

My consultants’s neighbor, a recent widower and retired Navy captain who had recently undergone a hip replacement, was given a dog, Skipper, by his children to keep him company. These people, who were clear across the country in California, knew NOTHING about goldens. My consultant friend knew I loved goldens and also knew I would be able to help find a home for Skipper. Our “Maggie” was about nine at the time and she was tender-hipped herself, so I thought a 70-pound puppy might be too much for her.

I was right.

Skipper was seldom walked, because the man had his hip surgery and he told me Skipper mostly lived in the garage when he wasn’t walked by a neighbor kid. He was gorgeous though. I told my friend, “Sure, I’ll meet him. I’m sure someone can help place him…”

The next thing I knew: Skipper and his owner were in my front yard with a crate, leashes, bowls, food, toys, and papers. I looked up to say hello to the man and he was gone. >Poof!< I called my friend / consultant and she was a bit shocked. I wasn’t about to turn over Skipper immediately, but I really didn’t know how to manage it all. My friend later spoke to him and said that he was desperate; I was young (a sucker) and loved dogs and well … yup.

I trained Skipper for about four months. He knocked over my kids, he knocked over poor Maggie, he was very smart, but too much. He had to go. So I contacted our local rescue group and the next day, Skipper was picked up around 10am and I cried my fool head off. The rescue group had a family in mind. They loved that he had been trained in the rudimentary drills and he was showing real promise. I love training dogs. So off he went, to befriend a teenage boy with autism. They were inseparable. I felt so good knowing he was going to be someone’s INSTANT best friend. Our kids were sad, for the most part. But we still had our girl Maggie.

For about a year. Then she died. I won’t go into that here, but it was a very hard day.

I couldn’t really “be” without a dog. So about six months after Mags died, I found another golden. From another rescue group. Ironically, and I didn’t know this at the time, my act of surrendering a “found” dog to the previous rescue group prohibited me from acquiring a dog from them for three years… I didn’t understand it, and when I signed the papers at the time, I of course thought Maggie would live longer, so it wasn’t a big deal.

So I found another golden rescue group.

Why goldens? Because I grew up around them. Because they are wonderful with children. Because I wanted another one. Because.

When we went to meet “King” he was sooooooo very mellow. I thought he was drugged. We didn’t plan on adopting him that day. The rescue lady (INSANE WOMAN, read on) said it was a “site visit” (for us?). He was a sweet boy, about three years old. His story was sad: his original family moved around the world, they tried with a family friend, but that didn’t work out (I SHOULD HAVE ASKED MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT) and no one else could take him, so they gave him up.

He was so mellow, we ended up taking him home that day. Of course we did (I can see my husband rolling his eyes now). All the boys raced back to their seats in our minivan (yes, I did drive one for four years) and in piled King. I knew that name had to go. King belongs to a German Shepherd Dog or a mastiff. We decided to try “Riley.”

Riley worked, he adjusted to the name. But KING… King was still alive and well. You can take the dog out of West Virginia, but you can’t take the West Virginia out of the dog. Riley was calm, sweet and docile in the car. I knew he wasn’t drugged because his eyes were bright and alert, but man, it was like he was in a Zen state.

Until the moment we opened our doors after we pulled into our driveway.

Riley took off. Booked. Bolted. Flew. Freakin’ hauled ass. Tore it up. Burnt rubber. Burnt asphalt. Left us in the dust. Ran. Laughing, if dogs could laugh, Riley was freakin’ howling has ass off.

Riley ran. and ran. and ran. and ran.

Our street is very quiet. But it is an appendage off a side street to a major traffic artery. We’re talking a four-lane-separated-by-a-median-strip artery. A 40mph zone. Riley went for the artery. West. More West. To the sunset.

It was like a scene from a mad-cap Disney pic from the 1970s …

Forget “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World!” Everyone is on a zany foot chase after Riley, the new dog, who simply can’t be caught! Don’t miss out on this great, fun, family adventure, where Riley shows everyone, even people he’ll never meet, that he wants to find his original family somewhere halfway around the world…. in ‘Riley Hates the Suburbs’… starring Elizabeth Montgomery as ‘Molly’ and Gavin McLeod as ‘Dan,’ King as ‘Riley’ and Joan Crawford as ‘The Rescue Lady.’

Riley fooled us all. After a 30-minute death-defying jaunt along our parkway and being caught by a really hot guy who looked like Ricky Martin, Riley came home back to our house on a collar and a leash. When Riley had a leash on, or was behind the gate (which he never tried to dig beneath or jump above) he was your man. He was calm, loyal, patient and sweet. The problem was our kids. Keep the dog, get rid of the kids? My youngest was still quite little, maybe three then, and he needed the doors held open a long time as he exited and entered our house. When Thing 3 had to go outside, Riley was waiting. And off went the older boys to catch him. The final bout was when one of the neighborhood boys almost got hit by a car, in hot pursuit. Everyone in our neighborhood knew that if a deep-red golden retriever was running like an idiot through the yards, it was Riley Field. One of the kids is now a track star at the high school. We’d like to think that we had something to do with his training.

So after about nine months, it was determined, quite easily I might add, that Riley/King had to go back to his original rescuer.

MAAAAAAAN did I get my ass handed to me by that madwoman rescuer. When we got him, he was about 10# underweight. His coat was a mess: it was dry, breaking off, and his skin was scaly but not diseased. He’d clearly been malnourished and under attended. He didn’t know any commands, especially not “stay” (obviously). The woman accused me of all sorts of things when I told her he needed to be returned: of breech of contract, of lying, of trying to look good, of being “fancy.” (Ouch.) Of NEGLECT (even though she’d never seen him) and she said that my vet said that I was a horrible owner and that I should be reported. Well, she never called my vet, because if she had she would have seen that Riley put on all his weight, that his muscle tone was restored, that his coat was lustrous and shiny and that he ran like hell. When we returned Riley, we provided a 50-pound bag of high-end food, his coat luster additives, leashes, a bed, a crate, toys and a $100 donation to her rescue league… JUST BECAUSE.

So that’s why I went back to breeders after two rescues. I feared at this point that my name was mud (because I figured these organizations were like interpol cross-referencing owners and all that) and I just couldn’t let that stop me from getting a dog. I love dogs. Desperately YET responsibly.

So last winter, when the chance to get Murphy a pal presented itself, I had to say yes. A puppy. I knew I could handle a puppy. I could train it. I could imprint it (as much as possible) and I could get it to understand that we are the home base. We are the team. Plus, Murphy was so mellow and huge, I figured any new puppy to him would be in good paws because he’s so patient and sweet. (Right now, Murphy is chewing on his rawhide and Charlie is hovering over him –Charlie finished his– and Murphy is ignoring him, but lowly growling, as Charlie gets terribly close to Murphy’s jaw, pressuring him to give up the goods.)

And we were right. To a threshold.

When we acquired Charlie, the vet estimated him to be about 8-10 weeks old. That’s about two weeks longer than most puppies are with their mothers. With a responsible and ethical breeder, 8-10 weeks is not a huge deal because the dog would have been socialized with other humans and other pups. With a dog like Charlie, who was bred near a salt marsh somewhere in South Carolina, whose mother was a stray, whose father was either dead or just clearly uninvolved, and who was likely whelped in a torn-down abandoned house in not the best of neighborhoods, you need to be careful.

Charlie has strange behaviors, whereas Murphy does not. Murphy does not scrape at the wooden floor or decking before lying down. Nor does he try to lick that flooring or bite the planks out of their position. He is interested in the trash, from the concept that it smells like something he’d consider if there were no food, ever, to be had or if the trash fell over and no one was home and he could get away with it… (he’s no angel).

But what I’ve noticed is the subtle distinction between their behaviors: Charlie came from chance and squalor so he’s scrappy and cheerful and game and so very charming, like a vacuum salesman. Murphy came from certainty and plenty so he’s patient, kind, interested in playing but not to the point of chasing you around the house with a sock to tug on it and he’s very loyal and assured; there is no “desperation” with Murphy whereas there is a definite sense of urgency with Charlie. Don’t get me wrong, I know they’re both on the make and totally full of shit and just want my hamburger, but it’s a very clear case of nurture versus nature between them.

When Charlie came to us he was wild, insofar that he was not a “dog” as I have come to know them, intentionally. He cried like a crazed hyena in his crate. He ate like a fiend and growled when we came near him while eating. I knew that had to stop immediately. As a babe, and as recently as this morning, Charlie goes to Murphy’s mouth to lick it to get Murphy to regurgitate his own food. Well, anyone who knows Murphy knows that ain’t happening, so what that did was also establish Murphy’s “alpha” position in their pack, which is constantly being challenged with little fanfare by Murphy.

What this tells me, watching all of it, is that Murphy knows in some way, because his mother was not in a panic, that he is safe and that all his needs will be met; and that Charlie has been conditioned to be more aware (despite their breed differences; goldens are NOT watch dogs) and needy or resourceful. Murphy has confidence, where Charlie simply has gratitude. I know that if I’m ever with Charlie and I feel unsafe around a person, he will go for the throat of whatever is approaching in a hostile way. He’s a sweet boy, but don’t cross him. Whereas Murphy, he’ll offer the person my coat and jewelry and ask for a ride.

At 5:35 every night, I can tell without the clock that it’s time for their dinner because Charlie goes to Murphy’s mouth to see if anything is there.

You couldn't PAY Murphy to sniff this.

You couldn’t PAY Murphy to sniff this.

When people come to the house to visit, Charlie is beyond thrilled. He can’t wait to sniff them, to kiss them, to inspect their bags or pockets. Charlie does play bows, and wags his tail and smiles. Murphy is, on the other hand, just glad they’re here. He saunters up to them, he lets them pet him, he inspects their crotches and then he moves on. If it’s someone he REALLY loves, he will wag his tail and do a little dance and “wooo-oo-woof” at them. Charlie is silent, but going through their stuff. If he finds something, he shares with Murphy; the same can not be said of Murphy.

He's a charmer. This was after I took my leather gloves from him. He had a great time running around the house with them saying "Catch me!!"

He’s a charmer. This was after I took my leather gloves from him. He had a great time running around the house with them saying “Catch me!!” Is he sorry or just pissed that the game is over?

What’s nice about “knowing” about Charlie’s litter mates is that their owners and I occasionally share pictures or stories about the dogs and it seems that they all have a predilection for digging into established floors. In the case of Charlie, it’s not that he eats what he digs up; but there’s something in him that tells him, “below is security; below is sustenance.” Knowing the story of his exhausting rescue (I shared it here at this link), leaves me barely surprised by his digging and scratching, once I put it all together. It’s part of who he is, just as my telling jokes to cover over a pain or a hurt.

Watching Charlie — a dog by chance who survived by sheer will and the goodness of others, and Murphy — a dog of intention who was spoken for before he was even born, tells me a lot about how I am the way I am. I am scrappy, resourceful, defiant and loyal like Charlie because I grew up in a place that required it in order for me to survive and thrive. Charlie is charming –real and authentic– but there is something that I believe he “knows” about kindness: that when you are safe and secure, that you can give it, without wondering if it will come back to you. And now I can understand Murphy because when I give and live with kindness, I just end up enjoying it.

Possibly my favoritest (that's a word) picture of them yet. Charlie is hugging his "baby" and his head is resting on Murphy's hip.  That "baby" has since been eviscerated to a mere pelt.

Possibly my favoritest (that’s a word) picture of them yet. Charlie is “hugging” his “baby” and his head is resting on Murphy’s hip.
That “baby” has since been eviscerated to a mere pelt.

Thank you.

PS — one more: this is IMMEDIATELY after I washed the glass door:

He has excellent timing.

He has excellent timing.

Charlie Needs a Job, Murphy Interviews, Gandalf Walks Out

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For a rescue dog that didn’t cost us any money to acquire, not even a fee at the local animal shelter, Charlie has proven to be a monetary sinkhole in his pursuits of destruction. He is a southern boy, he speaks with deliberation, as Matthew McConoughy? McConnoughay? McConaughey? … Googling… McConaughey. Got it. 

Murphy is a breeder-born, thoroughbred Golden Retriever from the Blue Ridge raised by a Tidewater Virginian. Murphy cost us $1,200 initially, but he’s proven himself to be an absolute gentleman, save for his zealous crotch torpedoing. Apparently that’s de rigeur for goldens. Murphy is mature, efficient and speaks sparingly, preferring to let what he doesn’t say say what he actually means.  

Seeing as how Charlie is in the red now, he needs to get a job. Murphy with our cat Gandalf (the one with the other family across the street) take on the arduous task of interviewing Charlie. Below is a portion of the experience.

The meeting takes place on our deck. Murphy is lying on his side, sunning himself and Gandalf is on a railing, looking down on Charlie as he always does, and also keeping a safe distance because Charlie can’t control himself around Gandalf. He simply sees him as something to eat or maim or destroy; but in a fun, lighthearted way. I believe the Geneva Convention would define Charlie’s tactics as torture.

C: I brought my resume:

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This was an instrument of repression. I renovated it to suit my needs of never having to wear it again.

M: What is the type of job you feel is best suited toward your … natural talents and gifts? 

C: Yes.

M: What?

C: I did that. All by myself. From inside my crate. Well, that’s not exactly true. It was outside my crate, but I pulled it through to inside the crate and then I did that.

M: How?

C: I just said. Through the crate. Look, pretty boy, I have many skills. I prefer to think of myself as a diet counselor / deconstructionist / renovator / incidental gardener / toy acquirer / media specialist / innovative package opener / threat prognosticator / vermin exciter and conjurer of magic.

M: Come again? Conjurer of magic?

C: I see things that others can not. I bark at things that are not there. I can’t tell if that’s more ‘threat prognosticator’ or magic conjurer …

M: In the dog world, we consider this, asinine. The lady and the man don’t like it either. Do you know what ‘shut the hell up!’ means?

C: To shut up hell. That’s also what I do. In the back yard, I can smell sulfur, so I dig to hell and cover it up with other dirt or tree parts or tennis balls. See where it says, ‘incidental gardener’? Got that covered. Ha. No pun intended. Proceed.

M: This is truly dazzling. Gandalf, you’re quiet today. Anything to add?

G: Yes. Stop. Now. All of this. Charlie, you are

C: Amazing, I know. It is dazzling; that a puppy like me, who’s from the sticks and has who knows what –other than awesome!– running through his bloodlines can accomplish so much in so little time.

G: Yes. Let’s talk about how much you’ve accomplished. That incident with the carpet in the playroom… what’s going on here?

sulfur! right here!

sulfur! right here! in front of my chest.

C: This? I smelled sulfur. I eradicated it. The family is safe. Next? 

G: Diet counselor?

C: You like that crap they give you? I think it’s terrible, so I spare you from it. Plus, uh, you’re looking a little wonky on the chassis, G. What’s with the loose belly swing when you walk? It’s like you’ve got a chest of pirate’s booty in your gut.

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G: I don’t have to take this. That photo is undignified.

C: Get over yourself. You weigh 17 pounds. That’s twice the size of that rodent dog next door. The neighbors have a nice warm spot for you if you need. I can chase you there if you want. Help you work up an appetite for all that sitting around you do…

M: This is no way to treat a co-worker. If you’re looking for a job, Charlie, you can’t be disrespectful like that.

C: I’m sorry. He’s gone. ‘Co-worker!?’ GO ON! TRAITOR! TURNCOAT! CAAAAAT!

GO COMPLAIN ABOUT US ALL IN THAT HOUSE WITH ALL ITS SHADE, AIR FRESHENERS and NO DOGS or KIDS … He comes back smelling like a Glade Plug-In after he’s been over there. Uch. He has no dignity. Plug him in, plug him in…

His sister… ay chihuahua. Now she’s feisty. She’s all hissy and growly and then jumps from a tube sock. She’s a klutz though.

M: It’s just that you’re spirited.

C: You mean, enthusiastic.

M: We’re off track. Tell me about your other skills.

C: I can alert the family to a vacuum in the room from my crate behind a closed door.

M: What do you mean? Vacuum in the room?

C: When there’s a vacuum in the room, and I’m alone and in my crate, I tell the family they forgot it. Or, when it’s running, and I’m having an imposed nap in my crate, behind a closed door and I hear the vacuum, then they clearly need to know about it. One time I decided to decommission a vacuum.

M: You mean when you chewed through the cord? That repair cost

C: I mean when I SAVED THE FAMILY. Vacuums are dangerous. So are lawnmowers, brooms and large garbage bins. And toddlers. Toddlers are always getting into trouble which means they are very dangerous. They are drunk, unstable walkers. That’s why I take away their chips — they could choke on them — and then I knock them down. They need to stay on their bottoms at all times where I can keep an eye on them. Chips are very sharp. And tasty. They don’t need that kind of food. They need apples and carrots and strawberries, which are also very tasty. Toddlers don’t need anything actually. They should just stay away.

M: Yes. I remember that. When that little boy was over this summer. You were very nice to him the first time.

C: I didn’t know what he was the first time. Of course I’m going to be all, “Hey, little … thing…? What’s in your pants? That smells like dinner…” Then he was all over the place. Chucking tennis balls into trees, and flinging frisbees into the dirt, and swinging around tree branches. I saved him. Those things can kill a kid. I had to put a stop to it. So now he cries whenever he sees me. I certainly don’t recall you not enjoying that bag of pretzels he knocked off the table.

M: Very good. Do you feel you’re misunderstood?

C: Why is this starting to sound like a therapy session?

M: I’m sorry. You’re right. What else would you like to highlight?

C: I can be very patient.

M: How?

C: Well, like right now. You’re chewing on my nylabone and I am lying here by your elbow gently biting it.

M: The lady just found that nylabone this morning. Along with this:

 

those were artfully placed under the sofa. i'm an interior decorator too.

those were artfully placed under the sofa. i’m an interior decorator too.

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this is the dog bed i prefer. the lady didn’t just clean up for this photo. she cleaned up last night at 10pm because she was angry about something. so she cleaned instead of slept. that’s when i told her to beware the vacuum.

 

this is the dog bed they gave me. i use this to encourage the humans, as well as a giant stuffed toy.

this is the dog bed they gave me. i use this to encourage the humans, as well as a giant stuffed toy.

M: Yes, here in this picture above, you’re chewing on a newfound old nylabone. Not the one I have now.

C: Yes. But I want the one you have now. Not the one in this picture, even though it’s right in front of me. I want what you have.

M: This is not cooperative.

C: I’m an independent contributor.

M: Let’s see… you also have listed: “I have an uncanny ability to come out of nowhere at top speeds and careen with a size 3 soccer ball between my teeth and leap small ottomans in a single bound.”

C: Size 3. That’s the best. Yeah.

M: Media specialist?

C: I like books, the classics and some new age…

I'm no snob.

I’m no snob.

M: This is a bummer, you know. LotF is a literary master —

C: Don’t talk to me about master anything. Listen, when it storms, this is what you do:

IMG_2707

C: Really classy. For a so-called “gun dog,” this is an embarrassment to your lineage. On the Fourth of July this year, I was out with the sparklers, bored to TEARS while you were inside shivering in a corner.

M: I never said I was a hero. You can’t swim.

IMG_2596

C: I suppose you’re right about that. I … didn’t list it on my résumé. I see you’re quite relaxed there. I am a dog of action.

IMG_2716

C: Oops. Wrong pic.

IMG_2543

C: Much better. This was taken right after they cut off my balls. I needed something, a bigger ball, to feel somewhat normal again.

M: I remember that leash.

C: Yeah. Tasted good too.

C & M: Ahhhaahahaaaa!

IMG_2872

M: I hate leashes.

C: Not as much as you hate baths.

IMG_2795

M: True. I do hate baths. Well, this ends our interview for today. Next time we will talk about grooming and not vomiting in the car. Do you think you can handle that?  … Charlie…?

C: Later! Lady’s doing yoga. I need to help her.

Heels down...

Heels down…

This post is dedicated to my dear friends whose favorite things I write are the posts about the dogs. We love you! Go Notre Dame!

Thank you.

DNA Results are In. Charlie is ….

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Well, here’s the deal. Charlie is a mutt, we know this. So a couple weeks ago, my husband and I went to Petco and picked up a DNA kit. After seeing the results of two of his litter mates, I was very curious to know what might be coursing through his little veins. His brother had different sire markers than his sister; but they shared the same dam markers… so because Charlie seems to be the only one in his brood with all his unique Bernese Mountain Dog / Border Collie -esque markings, we thought: if they can have different dads, then so can he. What I didn’t expect was the totally WHAT?! results we got. If you read these three together, you’d say that Charlie was a stowaway.

Anyway… back to two weeks ago: after a three-hour rest in his crate and on a snow-day, my son held him quietly and I swabbed between his inner cheek and his teeth.

Charlie’s cheek, not my son’s.

And then I sealed up the kit and sent it to the lab for reading. The lab received it on March 10. After much curiosity and ado, Charlie’s DNA results came in over email last night at 11:21.

I woke this morning, after expressing my gratitude for waking and being healthy, I rolled over, kissed my husband, then rolled back over, sat up, scratched my head, did a quick cat / cow to wake my back and then woke my son. After that, I went to get my smartphone and read my email.

At the bottom of a long line of messages, mostly of newspaper alerts and Daily Om messages, was a note from the DNA people.

I know you’re champing at the bit. So here… Read below … toot.

WHAT ?!? DACHSUND?! Are you kidding me?!

WHAT ?!? DACHSUND?! Are you $)@!(&% kidding me?!

Dachsund.

My heart literally stopped for a moment.

Small dog. Wiener dog.

“Labrador retriever” went right past me. Didn’t even register.

Dachsund. All I could think about was the Dachsund part.

NO NO NO NO NO.

I am a Big Dog Person. I see small dogs and immediately I go into “snarly nasty gnashing clawing” dog-vision mode. I am biased. But beyond that, I mean… no. Charlie’s legs are probably 15″ long and his proportions are … proportional. I don’t dislike small dogs, I just don’t like them. Every small dog I’ve ever met on a walk with The Murph has been nasty and unpleasant.

I contacted the owners of his siblings to let them know the results because we’re all in this together, and as I mentioned, they had the same DNA test performed on Charlie’s sister and brother, and their results didn’t mention D…ach…sund (uch. I can’t even say it.) at all.

The fact that the lineage goes alllllllllllllll the way back to his great grandparents and only one on each side out of eight means I get a refund annnnnnd further analysis of their veterinary team and other dog people (not people who are actually dogs) who will look at his pictures and compare his results with his siblings’ results (which look more comprehensive than Charlie’s) and they’ll get back to me with more guesses.

What this means to me, is that basically, they will have people like me who love dogs and who know breeds and who love dogs and who will look at pictures and talk about how cool looking he is and that will be it.

His sibs each have a mention of Basenji in them. I liked that. They don’t shed. (I’m hoping for something beneficial beyond utter cuteness and boundless affection.)

“Rescue”

It brings me great joy to say about Charlie that when we talk about the term “rescue” that it has always been a foreign concept to me. All my dogs have been bred for captivity. All of them are thoroughbreds. All of them were “spoken for” here before they were born. I’ve mentioned this before, but I didn’t really understand what was going on here, when we took in Charlie. His presence in this family has rescued us. It has lifted up our collective spirits after a time of great loss.

When we first met Charlie, he was 12# 4oz. He couldn’t reach the ottoman in our family room. He was smaller than our cats. He could slide under the kitchen chairs and noodle into the crick of your elbow and fall asleep there, likely dreaming of his dark and roofless caved-in deserted home that he knew for all of his life before he came to know car rides, warm laps, children’s laughter, music, carpeting, safety, and predictable mealtimes.

I remember fondly the first moment we had together outside after his inaugural night here. He trotted out the back door of our home and licked the dewy grass that was glistening in the low morning sun. That was how he got water. I took him out front and he lapped from a puddle of rainwater on the street. He didn’t know about bowls. He didn’t know about doors and steps and leashes. He was a wild dog.

Oh! How he hated his crate. He howled like a pentecostal preacher whenever he’d get in it. Yelping in tongues; if he had a can to drag against the grid, he would. After about a week of that, he began to understand that the crate was his new cave; his new refuge and that every time he went in it — no matter how often a day, a treat was always waiting for him. All we have to do now is say “kennel!” and he takes off like a jackrabbit and careens through the house to zip like a snake into his crate where he is practically smiling waiting for a treat. He has become a true Virginia Gentleman: ready at the door to greet with a smile and sincere good cheer.

Oh, how his beautiful little ears flop and bounce in the wind when he runs; his lean teenager legs taking him wherever his eyes wander. Squirrels, birds, the dogs across the fence. Gandalf. Ohhhh… if he could eat / mate / kill / harvest Gandalf, how happy he would be.

Charlie rescued Murphy, our six-year-old Golden, who was becoming more reclusive with the months. Something has spooked Murphy, we’ll never know what it is because he can’t talk, but Charlie has encouraged him to come back to us, to beg for a treat, to compete for a snuggle and lunge for a tennis ball again.

Yin and Yang.

Yin and Yang.

We talk about “rescue” as if we are doing the saving.

We talk about “rescue” as if we are somehow the better person, the more noble endeavor that shows our heart and our bigness to the world: Look at me save this animal from a tragic end; look at me, how big my heart is, to let in this creature who had no where else to go…  

What we don’t realize is that we are the ones who are saved.

It doesn’t matter what breed Charlie “is.” It’s purely a matter of curiosity and predicted dog behavior for me; I want to make sure I could train him right and understand any tendencies he showed. But in the end, aren’t most dogs the same? They bark, they play, they whine, they need love, they need protection and they are fiercely loyal. Charlie didn’t come to us as an adult. His only story is 8-10 weeks older than when we met him.

He can clear the couch effortlessly now.

He can clear the couch effortlessly now.

Today, he is about 33# and stands about 18″ tall. He has a mighty front chest; we’re talking very broad. His fur rivals that of a brushed sheep. His hair (on his head) is still just … crazy; he always has bed head. His eyes are deep dark chocolate. I don’t know what kind of dog has dark eyes like that… maybe a poodle? Does any of it matter? If he stayed this size, I’d be thrilled. Charlie has turned me into a Small Dog Person because he has a big heart.

We know what Charlie is. Charlie is our dog and Murphy’s brother.

Look! No snow! (For now.) I shot this today.

Look! No snow! (For now.) I shot this today.

Thank you.

ps — it’s so nice to be writing again. This is my 400th post! 🙂

Dear Diary … #dogs who #blog

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Dear Diary,

Hello. It is me, Charlie. Murphy. Charlie. Murphy. It is Murphy. I have some things to get off my beautiful, tufted, flaxen thoroughbred chest.

The rodent “dog” that has come to live with us thinks I am a cow. He is super stupid.

Ha ha. “Super stupid rodent.” I should be that for halloween.

He nips at my heels every moment I stand. Or walk. Or stand. Or breathe. He does not know how to walk. He only hops. That makes him a rabbit. I prefer to say “rodent” though.

here i am trying to get him off my leg on a ledge at the Great Falls park. i should have let him have a great fall. i missed my chance.

here i am trying to get him off my leg on a ledge at the Great Falls park. i should have let him have a great fall. i missed my chance.

I like to stand. Now I must sit all the time he is out of his cage, where he belongs forever, or snap and growl at him which I do not like to do because that is unbecoming for a dog of my lineage.

I am a golden retriever. We do not growl. Except at rodents and people who walk up to my front door and want to sell windowssidingroofdeckstrimguttersordoors to my lady. But rodents? We growl at rodents all the time. Like the one here they call Charlie who has come to not go away again.

If he is not nipping at me, he is trying to eat his own tail. He is so stupid.

The lady has started to snuggle with the rodent. That makes me sad inside. Then she gives me a pat and a long hug and some steak. Then it is not so bad.

The rodent does not get steak.

That makes me happy.

I have to go. The rodent is coming back from his time being outside watering the plants and making dirt. He does not do it outside very well. He thinks the inside is our outside. That is what comes from being born in a hole.

=-=-=

Rodent, er, Charlie here.

I am now almost four months old. The lady put a box with a long tube on it against her face and pushed a button to get this image of me:

this is not bad hair.  what do YOU know?

this is not bad hair.
what do YOU know?

Do not listen to that big blonde. HE is the stupid one. We took the lady for a walk the other day. We showed her the giant birds that sit on the frozen water. Murphy said they are “stupid, no-good geese.”

they look good to me.

even far away near the top of this picture, they look good to me.

I am sad.

My image of the lady as perfect has been chewed up and left for someone else to pick up.

She told a lie to a strange man on our walk. First, she let him touch me; that was not so bad. Then she told the man that I am a “Cape Breton cheveaux mauvais” for a breed. The man said, “Oh.”

HE BELIEVED HER. SHE IS A SERPENT. HE IS STUPID TOO.

I overheard her talking to the tall boy a couple days ago. HE said that those words mean “bad hair” in French. Look at that picture of me again. Does that look like bad hair?

And what is Cape Breton but a very cold place where ‘bad hair’ is ok because people wear hats all the days??

far away from south carolina, which is where i am from.

far away from south carolina, which is where i am from.

She said her friend from high school (low school if you ask me) came up with “Cape Breton.” It is a place so far away that no one can say it is untrue because nothing lives there. How can it? It is not here.

Humans lie.

is a stuffed kong as good as freedom? i say no.

is a peanut butter -stuffed kong as good as freedom? i say no.

They make “going to the kennel!” sound very fun. They call me and say, “Come here, Charlie! Time to go kennel!” and they have treats and then they close the door and lock it. When I am finished with the treats, they are in bed. Or watching the pictures on the wall.

What happened there? I lost. That is what happened. I am cut off from the paper on the wall near the always cold water bowl in the small room; I am apart from the things with strings the humans wear on their feet. The lady wears the kind that are long and have fur inside them. I miss those the most when I am in my crate.

I am training them still though. When I go by the door they get up. Fast.

Living here is different than living in South Carolina where there were no rules. I have tried to reach out to Murphy. He is stuck up.

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he does not like my blonde jokes.

I love to decorate and arrange furniture. The humans do NOT know how to live.

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everyone should have a stuffed toy tied to a string to keep the doors closed. and a floor rug in a dog bed. this is how the world should live.

Nate Berkus better watch his back.

Nate Berkus better watch his back.

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here i am having a chat with my cat, Gandalf. I am reminding him how close the neighbor’s house is.

I am also an artist: That mark on the wall? It is a Charlie original. I was helping the lady catch the cat when she had a basket of clothes in her arms. She slipped off the bottom step and the collar she wears on one arm made that mark. I helped her do that.

This is me playing the piano. I was playing the same song again and again: “Chopsticks.” I hate that song. I wanted to play “He’s a Tramp.”

they say i am musical.

they say i am musical. here i am singing the blues.

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this is much better than a peanut butter -stuffed kong in a kennel.

I heard the man in the house yell something about snowmen and wanting winter to stop.

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this just about sums up how he felt.

But I like winter. I like to sit on the deck and stalk our cat.

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i am finally bigger than the cat. here i am encouraging him to go live with the neighbors.

If I can’t encourage him, the lady tries:

dancing cat.

Gandalf is our unhappy dancing cat. here is the lady wearing my favorite foot coverings with strings. this was before she told the lies about me being Canadian. Canadian… of all things. Socialists!

When I am not in my kennel, I am doing lots of things, most of them get the lady to sing out loud at me, “Nooooooo! Charrrrlieeeee!”

this is my hole. do you like it?

this is my hole. do you like it? what?

But even when it is quiet, and I am doing nothing wrong, I am afraid I am doing nothing right. Here I am watching TV with one of the humans.

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the small one and i like “30 Rock”; that Kenneth gets me every time.

Murphy told me a joke the other day and I tried to tell him one back. I laughed. He did not.

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high four. no? ok.

Because I run everywhere and slide into things, the lady thinks I am a “spaz.” I do not know what that means. I am just getting used to being Canadian. I am a puppy, and that sliding into things thing is normal for me. She gets it but she does not like it when I do this on our walks:

i do not see the problem. i am trying to tell her to relax, slow down a bit... STOP.

i do not see the problem. i am trying let her take in the moment.

Also, she will not let me have the goose food. Do you see that little piece of goose food on the ground? she keeps on calling it “LEAVE IT!” but we all know it is “EAT IT!”

So to stop me from getting her to rest on our walks and to keep the goose food where it is, for the gooses to eat, she got me a collar that a horse wears. I do not like it.

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Here I am hiding from the camera. I am ashamed. What has happened to me? I am a Canadian Horse. “Neigh… Eh.” I hate this collar. 

 

But the small one does not understand how stupid that collar is; so I have trained him to let me pull him wherever I want. Here in this picture, Murphy, the blonde, is trying to catch me laughing at me.

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the small one is my pet.

But the lady keeps putting that collar on me.

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get me out of this collar.

Bye. For now.