Dog Days of Summer
It’s been two years since Ringo the Dog came to live with us, creating an endless source of whining for my husband. I always knew Ringo was special, but after having him around for a while, I’ve become concerned that “special” is only the beginning.
Maybe it’s inbreeding, or perhaps his canine DNA isn’t firing on all cylinders. Whatever the reason, we have learned to treat Ringo like that special aunt who wanders through the neighborhood in her underwear, talking to trees. You love her--but know she’s not “all there.” That’s Ringo.
Although Ringo is a Labrador/Border Collie, he does NOT understand the concept of “fetch.” He will run his heart out to catch a tennis ball, then run to the edge of the park to bury it. He never returns balls, Frisbees, sticks, socks, sandals or remote controls.
Thunderstorms, grandchildren, garbage trucks and hair dryers will leave him cowering under the kitchen table. Sometimes it takes hours before he considers it safe to come out. Maybe he was dropped on his head as a puppy.
Ringo has trained me to walk him twice a day. Every single time I get the leash from the closet, he jumps straight up in the air and does a half-twist/cartwheel before dashing down the hall to get my shoes. And nothing is too insignificant: all things must be smelled and peed on.
Our dog thinks every other dog wants to be his friend—but he has absolutely NO social skills. He’s like that awkward kid standing outside the circle of friends trying to “party merge” by casually joining the conversation. He’ll walk up to a group of dogs and sniff their unmentionable areas, then wag his tail and pant, staring at the dogs until they back away slowly toward their owners.
He also has an ongoing feud with the neighbor’s cat, which the neighbor’s cat knows nothing about. Ringo sits in his La-Z-Boy staring out the living room window, waiting for the little calico to walk across her yard. Once she’s spotted, Ringo dashes out the doggie door into our BACK yard, where he thinks the fence has disappeared and he can catch the cat and eat her for dinner. It’s never happened yet—but he still persists. Maybe his parents were cousins.
One morning I was in a stupidly adventurous mood and decided to take Ringo the Dog toLibertyPark, where we could walk calmly with other pet owners and enjoy a beautiful summer’s day. However, the minute we got out of the car, Ringo turned into a wild animal. No thought was too irrational. No behavior was too insane. He dashed hither and yon, pulling at the leash, trying with all his might to wrap me around a tree and escape into the wilds of the park. I left with a bruised wrist and ego.
Concerned about his intelligence, I found some dog IQ tests. Placing a treat under a plastic (transparent) cup, I watched to see if he could figure out how to get the treat. He lay next to the cup, occasionally tapping it with his paw, before giving up to sprawl on the floor and stare. Maybe his mother smoked crack.
Although the threat of a bath will send him flying outside to hide in his special place for two hours, and even though he’s convinced there are underground cat colonies that he must dig up, our lives wouldn’t be the same without him. My husband says HIS life would be much easier. But then, my husband is “special” too.