“The Four Feet”
I have done mostly what most men do
And I have pushed it out of my mind
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to
Four feet trotting behind
Day after day, the whole day through
Wherever my road inclined
Four Feet said “I am coming with you”
And trotted along behind
Now I must go by some other round
Which I shall never find
Somewhere that does not carry the sound
Of four feet trotting behind
“What A Nice Dog”
I’m a dog lover. That said and out of the way, I do not love all dogs. Not the ankle biters, not the droolers, not the natural born killers. I guess I’ll rephrase that first sentence with I love my dogs. One is a Collie; a lean, thick coated sable/orange and white specimen with eyes that will reach into your very soul. Now that I think of it, I suppose Dracula had the same power. He goes by the name of “Gunner” and he is about 2 years old. He’ll also come to you by the name of “Hey”, “Come’re”, “Doofus”, a whistle, a click of the tongue, etc. In short, he doesn’t know who he is. He is a great dog, good with kids, loves everyone and loyal.
My wife has a Sheltie. She goes by the name of Snickers (the dog of course). I can honestly say that this dog is the smartest animal that has ever lived with me. Responds to every command on cue. Very loving and beautiful dog. It is quite clear, however, that she rules the roost outside. She is the alpha dog here and everyone knows it. So one dog is 75 lbs, almost 2′ taller with a baratone woof and a gallop that sounds like an stampeding horse, while the Sheltie is known to average 15 lbs with short, stubby legs and a piercing high pitched bark. Doesn’t seem like there is a lot of similarity between the two; kind of like a Mutt and Jeff type of partnership if you ask me.
So in the beginning, it was a little suprising to me, when we would take our dogs on camping trips, vacations, etc, of the response we would receive when someone would see our dogs. It was sort of a ritual at campgrounds to go for a morning and evening stroll with Gunner and Snickers, to get their exercise, let them sniff/read, and do their business (and yes, we carried those little poop bags around with us to clean up). On those mornings that Snickers was at the head of the leash was usually when we received the most attention. Invariably, I’d run across some other poor soul who, like me, wasn’t smart enough to stay in bed, and after the obligatory smile and greeting, I’d hear “What a cute little Collie you have”.
Folks, a Sheltie isn’t a Collie. They aren’t related. Never was and never will be. One barks, one chirps. One sprints, the other shuffles. One you pick up and carry, the other you restrain. Countless times I’ve heard the uninformed call Snickers “Lassie”. Really? I’m an old man now, but even thru my dementia I don’t recall a possum sized canine jumping on Timmy’s neighbor and dragging him from the burning barn. Ok, they may have Scottish descent and they may or may not have sable coats, and that is about where it ends. I’m Korean but no, I’ve never been to Hong Kong. Am I being a little sensitive? Maybe too thin skinned or over reactionary? Of course I am. It’s a “me problem” that won’t take the place of my paying the bills or saving the world. Before I can make my point before congress, I still have to figure out how to keep my wife from tripping over my shoes everytime she comes thru the door. But I won’t call your Labrador an Irish Setter or your Stafordshire Terrier a Pitbull. Like you, I may not know the difference or I may not even care. If it’s all the same, I think I’ll just smile as I pass and say ” What a nice dog”.
My wife and I owned two dogs that we had owned before we met and brought into the marriage. Her dog was a pit bull/labrador cross named Zack, and he hated me. When our daughter was born, I said to the wife,”If he so much as nips at the baby, he’s gone.”
We brought our daughter home in a car seat, and both dogs sniffed and licked her, tails wagging. I had to pull Zack away from her because he wouldn’t stop licking her. Zack immediately became my daughter’s protector, and when she was lying on a blanket on the floor, he always had to have one foot on the blanket.
Zack loved my daughter immensely, and when she became a little older always walked her to bed, and then slept on the bed with her. He somehow knew whenever it was time to go upstairs, and he would wait at the foot of the stairs for her, and then follow her up to bed.
Zack was poisoned by some dirtbag neighbor kids, and we had one of the worst days of our lives. Watching my daughter say goodbye to him as he laid still on the kitchen floor, my wife and I were both sobbing.
At 8:00 that night, my daughter walked to the stairs to go to bed. At that moment, all three of us realized what was about to happen. After 5 years, she didn’t have Zack to accompany her upstairs. She looked at her mother and me with a look of horror and panic.
It was at that moment that my dog, who loved my daughter dearly, but was not in Zack’s league, stood up, walked over to her, and nudged her with his head. He put his foot on the stairs, and looked up at her. They walked up to bed, with my daughter holding tightly to his neck.
For the next 6 years, until he died, Sam waited for her by the stairs each night.
Coyotes have a very social life with each other, each howl means something. The long drawn out howl is an interrogation howl, asking is there any other members of my pack around and where are you. There are many other howls I don’t have the space to explain them all. The lonesome howl, the female invitation howl, pup yips and howls, challenge howls, and many more. These are some of the ones you will here. Coyotes are very territorial most of the year and do not tolerate other coyotes in their territory, this is why sometimes when you howl to call to them they answer back with a quicker more excited howl this is the challenge howl, you can sometimes give it right back to them and they get real excited, it’s kinda like two people talking crap in an argument or before a fight, sometimes the coyote will come to whip butt. They yip in packs sometimes at night when they have killed something or found something to eat. They howl for many reasons.