A Week in the Hole For The Pooches

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We had to board our two dogs recently while on a week’s vacation. It is the first time we have done this. Previously, we only owned Rosie the Wonder Dog and always managed to find someone to host her or dog-sit at our house. Sam the Man, a poodle mix with doleful eyes and the sweetest disposition, joined the crew late last summer after being rescued by my Beautiful Mystery Companion. Rosie now has a big brother. A somewhat slow-witted but kind-hearted big brother, for sure, but she likes having him around most of the time.  When he dawdles coming back inside from the backyard, she will run out and jump on his head, then swat him in the face, as if to say, “Hurry, dummy! Don’t you know a treat awaits?”

Two dogs more than doubles the trouble, so we didn’t try very hard to foist them on friends or kin when we left town. Like all dog owners who have become far too attached to these little fellows, worthless though they may be, we worried about how they would react to a week in doggie jail. I insisted they be placed in the same kennel to lessen the trauma. At least they could commiserate together on what egregious act had resulted in this harsh punishment. No doubt Rosie would blame Sam.

“I told you to quit digging holes in the backyard,” she likely would say in dog talk. “That Food Guy kept yelling at you. Now look where we are.”

Rosie is a rescue dog as well. Her salvation came early, at about eight weeks, from the good folks who set up each Saturday in front of Petco. She was a tawny ball of fur. She’s nearly three now and chubby enough to require diet dog food. She resembles a miniature Chewbacca when not wearing a summer haircut. She doesn’t bark, shed or misbehave. In return, Rosie has the run of the house, and thinks our teenage daughter Abbie is the queen — as do we, of course. Rosie is quite certain all three of us were put on this earth to cuddle with her when she is in the mood. Her two failings are an incessant need to lick, which is truly obnoxious, and a nearly pathological aversion to riding in the car.

Sam is our special-needs dog. He has been put on the trading block a couple of times with no takers, after I became exasperated with his antics. I’m glad there were no offers, because he has become a fine companion. He wisely abandoned nearly all his miscreant ways. Unlike Rosie, he loves to ride in the car and lives for the morning walk.  No matter the weather, Sam is good for a six-mile hike without missing a stride. When people come to visit, if he takes a shine to them, Sam quietly stands next to them and leans into their legs, like a cat wanting to be rubbed. I have never seen a dog do that.

While in doggie jail, I can imagine Sam’s reaction being one of sadness. When my BMC found him, he was lying in the middle of the street up the hill from our house. He wasn’t physically injured, just worn out, filthy, his curly fur matted so badly he had to be shaved. He had just given up and was waiting for my BMC to show up. For weeks, he would flinch from us when we made a sudden move. The first time I took him for a walk, he cowered from every passerby. Clearly he had been mistreated. So I can imagine him sitting with Rosie in the kennel, thinking, “Oh man, here we go again. Just when things were going so well.”

We didn’t know how Sam and Rosie would react after a week in the kennel, which is well-run, clean and safe. It just isn’t home for our dogs.  Both dogs of course went bonkers when they saw me. Even Rosie was happy to get in the car. I was nervous that both would behave badly at home for a time, exacting revenge for a week in solitary.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is as if they were saying, in dog talk, “Food Guy, we don’t know what we did, but we won’t do it again.” Sam especially comes flying inside when called from the backyard, running so fast that he skitters across the hardwood floor. They slept curled tightly together for the first few days, as if afraid to let each other out of their sight — a black-and-tan, yin—and-yang of fur. They didn’t even seem to mind getting baths under the water hose.

Another boarding stint is coming up. I hope it has the same benign result. Sam might even fetch the paper for me after the next go-round.

Nah. He’s not that smart. But he sure is lovable.

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