The PET NEWS CONTEST Entry
When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer… ~ Stevie Wonder
I’ve written quite a bit about my first dog, Bare. He was an exceptional animal and a great friend, and I still miss him over thirty years later. He had one odd attribute that I could never explain, and I’ve always chalked it up to him being just a little bit odd. You see, this particular canine was a mix of mastiff and pitbull, with a mouth sizeable enough to hold a basketball. But unless he viewed something as a threat, he was a very gentle being. An unaltered male dog, a poisonous snake, or a shady person would certainly be at risk. But even then, if I was there, he’d listen to me and come back when called. There was one exception… squirrels. Once he saw one, he was going after it, and hell was going with him.
I asked him once about it, after I finally caught up to him, of course. I sat down next to the tree where his little furry nemesis on a branch was chattering at him. He wasn’t going anywhere as long as he could see the beast. My breath finally returned after the run.
“Hey Bare? Why do you feel the need to chase squirrels?” I queried.
“Hold on a minute. He’s still up there,” he responded.
“You know he’s not going to come down, right?”
“Of course, but I want to scare him. Just let me bark a little more.”
“Fine,” I conceded. “I think that ship has sailed, but I need to rest anyway.”
Now, my dog didn’t really talk, but we communicated fairly well. There was something that vexed him, and there really was no good explanation for it. All I could gather was he was superstitious. The dog was incredibly smart, even to the point where he would look both ways before crossing a street. But, there are very smart people who won’t open an umbrella indoors or walk under a ladder.
He was also an incredibly skilled escape artist. I believe if he’d had thumbs he could have picked locks. Tie him up? He would chew through the rope or slip the collar. Put him in a pen? He’d have a tunnel system built that would make the Hogan’s Heroes crew proud. And fences? He’d literally climb them. Not jump them, nope, he would go paw over paw until he got to the top, then jump. Bare was a guy who loved to roam.
One day, he didn’t come home. I searched for him for days without any luck, and the animal shelter didn’t have him. Or so they said. It turns out they actually did, but since he was in the medical wing, I never saw him when I visited. He had been hit by a car. I finally got him home, but he was injured badly. It makes me wonder to this day what really happened. He just wasn’t one to dash out into traffic. Unless…