Beware Of Dogs

Life On The Back Page - April 2016

Daryl Gay | April 12, 2016

How many times have you said it: “I’ll never have another dog?”

Aww, come on; you know you have. And there’s always the same excuse: “I just get too attached to them…”

Oh, the dog may be a cat—in which case you’re urged to immediately seek psychiatric counsel—or some other pet.

But you get the gist.

And if you’ve spent any time at all with me here in this space, you’re familiar with that big ol’ galoot taking up so much space in the back of that pickup.

Yeah, that’s Tramp.

It may come to your recollection that Tramp is an American bulldog. I’m pretty enamored by most things American and all things bulldog. Since I’ve written about him before, I’ll try not to be repetitive here, but if it happens, please bear with me.

It will be the last time. Probably.

Since the day my son Dylan picked Tramp out of the litter, I’ve noticed that the dog’s overall construction resembled that of a concrete block. He was twice the size of any of his brothers and sisters, and repeatedly bulled them out of the way when it came HIS time to nurse.

“That’s the one,” Dylan said as he made the pick-of-the-litter selection. Right he was.

My favorite episode with this block-headed knucklehead came when he was about a year old.

My wife would operate under the assumption that she was walking him on a leash as they wound around the neighborhood. As a rule, they would meet a nice little feller originally not from around here, riding a bike and decked out in helmet and knee pads.

Smart move.

Tramp never paid him the slightest attention—until one day he did.

Heretofore, the meeting would occur mid-street, with everybody in opposite lanes; however, this time, it was at the end of the street, and the cyclist whipped around to head back in the direction the walkers were taking. While circling, he happened to point the bike and ride directly at my wife.

Tramp didn’t appreciate that very much.

All this happened in the blink of an eye and less than 100 yards from my front door. Upon hearing the commotion—of which there very definitely was one—I dashed outside to see Tramp holding a bicycle, both tires off the ground and spinning, in his jaws, my wife tugging frantically on a leash and a little helmeted feller sitting on the pavement not moving a muscle.

“I ride toward her, I ride toward her,” was all he managed to get out as I ran up. At least he understood the dog was simply being protective. I was just glad Tramp was gripping the bike amidships, and not its rider.

It took a while, but I managed to convince him to give up his prize, no worse for wear except for a little slobber here and there.

Last time he got walked on a leash.

You should have seen him on a duck hunt, ears flopping as the boat  ran upriver in pre-dawn mist. And the look on his face at the shot: “Yeah, you missed again. But that’s OK, because I wasn’t going to swim that freezing water for no duck noway.”

Tramp had a way with expressions. And you can bet that as he sat there in that boat beside the landing, other hunters and fishermen gave it a wide berth.

But despite the look, he was a people dog. A couple of my hog-hunting buddies made ridiculous financial offers and then begged and pleaded, but I never allowed him to draw blood. Well, except for a couple notable late-night rumbles with possums whose GPS’s misdirected them into his back yard.

Trust me: you’ve never seen a mess like the mess a bulldog can make with a possum.

I could always read his possum bark, just like all his others. There was the “cat crossing the yard” or “unknown vehicle in driveway” or the one he made a couple weeks ago when two guys allegedly doing a survey walked up the long driveway toward my 4-year-old grandson—Dylan just out of sight around the corner of the house.

I call it his “Somebody’s about to lose a leg—if they’re lucky” bark.

You don’t want to hear that one. But I would love to. Just one more time.

We don’t know what happened. Vet said X-rays showed no damage, but his old heart just quit on him. And that’s all I have to say about that. We had a great time together, though, every day, and it’s hard to be sad.

So yeah, I’ll never have another dog.

Like Tramp.

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