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Down the Road

Those doggoned dogs
By Milton M. Gross
Dec 2, 2012 - 5:14:37 AM

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A woman, who lives a couple of miles from us on a side road, told me yesterday that she had taken her two Labs for a walk.

As they passed a certain house, another Lab, a brown one, raced out onto the road, growling and barking. Not a friendly Lab, as are most. The woman's dogs were on a leash, and she attempted to ward off the unfriendly Lab from her friendly ones.

But the three still mixed it up, leash, woman, and all. Growling, nipping, the whole works.

Until a little boy appeared in the yard, and our friend hollered at him to come get the dog. About that time, a woman came out of the house onto the road, and hauled the brown Lab into the yard and on into the house.

"I hope your dogs aren't hurt," the woman yelled back at our friend, who was trying to calm her two dogs and check them for bites.

"She didn't ask me if I was all right," our friend told me.

"I generally find animals more sensible than people," I replied.

Her experience reminded me of some of my own, some when I was a kid, probably in what used to be called junior high school before they improved it to middle school.

Our family dog was a Shepherd-Collie mix. I don't know what kind of Shepherd, but this critter was not one to take a lot of unneighborliness from anyone -- especially the mailman, who once smacked him on the nose and made old Shep unfriendly in return, to men.

A woman was fine. A man was hamburger...or manburger.

So we kept him in our fenced in yard or on a leash.

Which is why I was walking him one day past a house with a tall pen designed to contain a mean-looking Boxer.

Which that day was loose and made a beeline -- dogline in canine language -- for old Shep. Old Shep was used to taking care of himself, but this Boxer didn't play fair.

The Boxer jumped on top of old Shep, a move not in the suburban doggie manual of etiquette. Old Shep was on the bottom of the two-dog heap.

To even things out a bit, this junior higher jumped onto the Boxer and kind of rode it...probably him -- and yanked on his ears. The three of us must have attracted the Boxer's owner -- not mistress, not in charge at the moment. The Boxer let go of old Shep to pay attention to this ear-yanking business, and the woman came out.

I can't remember how, but she got the Boxer away from us, and we continued our walk. She apologized.

Okay, just another doggie/junior higher scrap, fairly common I suppose is Suburbia.

On another occasion, during the same daily walk, at another house about a quarter mile from the Boxer's, a smaller dog came dashing out. Some kind of Terrier or Terrorist or Beast, I can't remember after these several hundred years of old Shep's growing older and his eventual demise after I supposedly grew up and left home. It may have been a Norwegian Elkhound Old Shep and I were ready for this one.

I kicked, old Shep growled and nipped some, and the little Terrorist withdrew.

At about that time, the lady of the house descended upon us. She didn't apologize.

"My dog can beat your dog up!" she shouted.

Great, a junior higher tackling an adult idiot. I can't remember who won. We left the area to continue our walk.

It may have been in those days that I was too awestruck with a cute little blond girl, whose family had moved to our Suburbia from the Panama Canal Zone, for me to concentrate too heavily on Terrorist dogs and adult idiots.

Hey, don't blame me for not remembering. Several years before my fourth-grade teacher had declared that I had a memory-loss disease, which I would never conquer. She may have been right. I don't remember her name.

Nor do I remember the cute little blond girl's name.

During yet another boyhood/doghood walk, a huge, even bigger than that, Norwegian, the black, furry kind, came lumbering out to be the aggressor.

"Geez, what is that?" old Shep may have asked. Or not. I don't remember.

But I got ready, and when the two of them were going at it, sideways to me, I slammed one of my shoes -- don't remember which -- into the Norwegian's side.

He glanced around, and may have said, "Geez, what is that?"

And headed for his house, probably looking for the lady of the house to protect him and holler insults at the junior higher. She never appeared, and we continued our walk.

While living in western Maine during the Cold War, when, by the way, it was also a lot colder in western Maine than now, a fellow minister and I drove up a long dirt road to visit a Russian man we had heard lived there. A man, who had escaped one of the Communist-controlled East European countries, had been in the area and was going to speak at our church. We thought the two could meet and perhaps become friends.

Seeing nor hearing barking dogs, we got out of the car at the small house. Then we heard barking. Looking in a window we saw a large Russian Wolfhound and a St. Bernard, both quite large.

A man came to the door, we introduced ourselves, and he invited us in to chat. As we sat and talked, each of us found ourselves petting a huge canine. The conversation must have been forgettable, because I sure have forgotten it.

What I haven't forgotten were the two huge dogs, each buddying it up with a perfect stranger. Well, not perfect, but we sure were acting the part so as to not be eaten.

As we left the house, the Russian said, "You two are the first visitors the dogs haven't tried to bite."

We smiled and drove away.

It took all those years for the junior higher, then supposed adult, to find a dog or two that weren't looking for a fight. Neither was I.

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

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012

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