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Down the Road

Doggone doggies
By Milton M. Gross
Sep 16, 2012 - 4:45:25 AM

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My daughter, Lorraine, shared with us on the phone the other night how Buster, her canine pet, has learned how to come into their North Carolina house by using the pet door she had installed for Buster and her kitten.

Of course, doggies being ever so smart and kitties being ever so clever, Lorraine told us that on one occasion Buster wouldn't use the pet door.

His reasoning was fully doggedly doggie.

Buster, the non-show Dog, whose name came from Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion's piece about Buster the Show Dog, with his buddy the bunnie. Milt Gross photo.

Sometimes, when Buster is shoving his nose through the pet door to test the inside world, the kitty, Leela, will notice this and begin to play with that nose. When you're a kitty, what can be more tempting as a play toy than a round, wet doggie nose poking through a pet door.

For some doggie reason, not understood by doggie keepers and kitty servants, Buster doesn't appreciate this nosey playtime.

So, the other day when she was inviting him to use the pet door, he was not using it. Buster was, of course, a bit worried that his nose would once again become a kitty bat-at playtoy. The fact that the kitten was on Buster's side of the door, right alongside his big, doggy body, didn't matter to Buster.

He wasn't going to poke his nose through that pet door so Leela could bat it around.

Lorraine didn't tell us the outcome. Did Buster finally obey his mistress and shove on in through the pet door? Did he turn and ask for suggestions from the kitty right alongside him?

Such doggone suspense! We'll never know the answer? Unless, of course, we ask Lorraine. But we won't do that until after this column is on your screen.

Why ruin such great suspense?

Perhaps some brave reader can write his or her own ending, like was the story style ten or fifteen years ago. You got to buy the book. You got to read the story. Then you got to write your own ending.

Thus saving the writer the trouble of doing so.

But doggone doggies are always creating such story dilemmas for we humble humans. In Swanville, we had a female Lab, Candy, and a male mix between Lab and some kind of retriever whose name has disappeared from my soft memory. They were both black. They were basically inseparable.

Lorraine, proud master of Buster and servant to Leela, was a major part of this tale of a dog, when she, Lorraine, was a fairly tiny tyke.

Candy, so named because when we brought her home in the car from the animal shelter, she calmly grabbed a piece of candy Lorraine was attempting to eat. Of course, we named her from that incident.

Later we gave Lorraine another piece of candy.

This is called good parenting.

When Candy began her own new sport of chasing deer, yelping loudly enough for not only us but every game warden in the county to hear -- and, I'm sure, for the fleeing deer to hear, I started hitching them both in the back yard.

But he liked sports too, and his favorite game was to bite on the hook of her collar until he unhitched it. Sometimes his freeing Candy would lead to her canine delinquency. She would take to the woods.

We never could break Candy of chasing deer, despite my catching her in the act in the woods one day and whacking her across the back with a stick after she had departed from the back yard.

We always made sure she remained hitched after that or in the house with us until she grew elderly and passed away, long after her black liberator had gone to where black Lab liberators go.

Years later, when we lived in South Paris, someone gave us a giant black lab. He was so big that on a dark night, you would think a pony was barking outside.

He wasn't very bright. But he did think enough to figure out that if he hid in the dark shadows at night, we couldn't find him to bring him in for the night.

But we were more stubborn than he was bright enough to hide his big black furry body in a dark shadow on a dark night.

When we found him, though, the going got tough. He was also very stubborn. My youngest son, Scott, would pull the front end, and I would push the back end -- a bit like those long freight trains that used to puff their way up those long grades, an engine on the front with another pushing from the rear.

I forget his name. I do remember pushing in the dark.

Doggone dog. We finally gave him away.

I don't remember to whom we gave the nameless black beast.

I just remember pushing.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012

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