Wine Before Five
Because Life is Good, & Short, & Sweet…
We have two rules about dogs at our house:
*No more than TWO Dogs (hear my Spouse shouting there?) and
*No more Border Collies (that’s my plea… but I DO love the one we have.)
So let’s explore this edict of No More Than Two Dogs. Next line uttered by my spouse: “Two is fine. More than that is a HERD.”
We will cover “No more Border Collies” later.
There was a time when we had a lovable older lab mix named Labby Duke Weatherly. We’d gotten her when she was seven years old; her owner had passed away, and she needed a family as much as we needed a sweet dog. It was a good fit. She had been to Obedience Training, although we had not, and so she behaved well — better than we did. When I said “Heel!” she did. But then I didn’t know how to “un-heel” her. She was loyal, faithful, an excellent guard dog, and a good lay-at-your-feet dog. Labby loved to have her shining coat brushed, and had one special talent: she could count, at least to four. She would stand in the living room doorway, nod her head at each of us, and if all four family members were there, she would contentedly lie down. If she only gave two or three nods, she paced the house in search of her missing family. She behaved well with children, enjoyed our neighborhood walks, and generally just could not have been a better canine companion. She and I were two happy old ladies, living the good life.
Labby had a unique generous spirit. On one of her first days with us, I was having tea and graham crackers for breakfast, snuggled in my robe in a living room chair watching the early TV news. Labby watched me for a few minutes and then darted upstairs, darted back down, sat in front of me, laid her extra large rawhide bone – our welcome gift to her – in my lap, and sat up to beg politely for a graham cracker. What dog offers you her most precious possession in exchange for a treat? She was, by all standards, an incredible and loving dog.
However, as time went by, I thought we needed what Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry had once termed “a back-up dog.” If the reasons are not clear to you, let me explain: the family pet passes away, the family is crushed, and a new pet is nearly unthinkable, at least for a long time. The heartache continues on and on. We’d been through that twice. No more of that for me. Sweet Labby was by this time about ten years old. Time marches on. It was time for a back-up dog.
And so Kassie, an AKC Springer Spaniel who needed a home, came to live with us. Her owners were retired, and spent half their year out west, so Lady Kassandra Sue, aka Kassie, spent half of each year in a boarding kennel. She came to stay with us for a one-week trial. Her kind-hearted owner put her well being ahead of his own happiness, and parted with her once he was assured she had found a good home where her new owners would both treat her as part of the family, and keep her with them year-round. Kassie deserves her own blog post; that will follow. One last note on Kassie: we originally made contact with her through my dog-loving Nephew. (This will matter later.)
It wasn’t too long before Labby did pass away, and we mourn her still. She is buried beneath the big tree by the back fence. (I sometimes secretly have a word with her there.)
A few months later, Spouse Weatherly introduced a Border Collie/Lab mix to our household, on a “trial” basis, of course. A friend of his needed to find a home for his dog named for the famous/notorious computer hacker, Kevin Mitnick. (I should have known better. “Mitty,” too, will get his own blog in the spotlight later on.) And so Mitnick joined the family — once again, we had a total of two dogs.
You would think a good-sized Border collie mix and an active Spaniel would be enough.
You would also think that possibly no dog who comes to the Weatherly home “on trial” ever leaves…
Sometimes a blog author has a dog-loving Nephew who loves to hunt, and this sometimes means breeding hunting dogs – in his case, purebred beagles. Sometimes hunting dogs don’t work out so well in the field…sometimes they decide to sleep under a bush rather than complete their field trials. In most cases, this means they move on, to another hunter who will try again, to a home where they become an outdoor pet. Sometimes, though, that idea is a hard one for the young daughter of the Nephew, especially when she’s even named the puppy. And, what can be done? Obviously, the beagle needs to find a home where Great-Niece can visit her. Perhaps with Great-Auntie, Emma Ann Weatherly…
The idea of gaining a third dog was presented to Spouse, who said somewhat quietly (believing that would be effective) “We don’t need a third dog.” But Emma Ann cannot disappoint a Nephew, a Great-Niece, and a Beagle that needs a home, can she? Note the elevation in status there from “beagle” to “Beagle.”
In deference to Spouse, we delayed any more conversation of the Beagle coming to our house for the time being. Dog lovers are foolish, but not totally stupid.
However, Spouse Weatherly had a business trip late that summer.
Beagle — named Lucky — came to visit that week as a “trial.” Note – this was the third dog to come to our home on a trial basis. And so, Lucky spent her first week here, adjusting from life in a hunting beagle’s kennel to life INSIDE. With two other, larger dogs. She was quiet, cautious, cuddly and sweet.
Let’s be honest. Beagles are not the most intelligent dogs on earth. And Lucky was not the most intelligent of her breed. She tried. She was bow-legged, clumsy, and her ears were too short. But, she was lovable. She smiled. She had accidents, but didn’t seem to know they were accidents. She often sat about twelve inches from a blank wall, just studying it… She did learn to “sit” on command. Later on, she learned some things from the other two, Mitty & Kassie. She and Kassie, for example, became quite proficient at knocking over the trashcan and spreading kitchen trash throughout the living room & dining room. But who could be upset with her? Lucky had an appealing look about her of “Who, me? What?” Mitnick adopted her as his own, cleaning her face and ears, keeping an eye on her.
Lucky’s most memorable performance was when I picked her up – along with Mitnick and Kassie – from the boarding kennel after a three-day stay. She had no reaction, although the other two gave the usual frenzied “Welcome Back! We CanNOT Believe You Left Us For 3 Days!!!” Lick, lick, lick, jump, jump jump, pant, pant, pant! . Two days later, Lucky looked at me, cocked her little head, smiled, and became quite excited. AHA! “I KNOW YOU!” She was home. Yes, a bit slow. But always lovable.
Back to the beginning of Lucky’s “trial” here. Spouse W. returned from his week’s business trip. He asked, “Where’d this beagle come from?” I answered we were keeping her for a bit for my nephew.
A few days later, Spouse said, “This beagle is still here?” Nothing much gets by him.
That weekend, after a full week of noting the beagle’s presence, Spouse said, “This beagle isn’t leaving, is she?”
I answered, “Well… look at it this way. You went away for a week…
And I got Lucky.”
No one was more heartbroken than my Spouse when Lucky passed away at just seven years old.
However, Spouse Weatherly doesn’t have the same quirky sense of humor – or love of canines – that Emma Ann has. And thus, the new rule was agreed upon: No More Than Two Dogs.
No More Than Two Dogs! Gettin’ Lucky