Sunday, June 19, 2011

Birds of a feather

Soon after I got Stella I realized I wasn't the only one who was ignorant about her breed. Several people (including my mother) suggested that I save myself and the lives of countless four-year-olds and give the dog away as soon as possible. I'm sure each one of those well-meaning advisors had a different picture in their mind of the guy they thought would (or should) own such a dog.

Six months later, when Stella had to have her knees operated on Mom and I were talking on the telephone one night and knowing it would be a huge financial burden, she declared: "You need to just have that dog put to sleep." A few cold seconds went by and she added, "or give it away before you get attached to it."

That is when the Patron Saint of Irony airlifted a dog out of some neighbors yard and set it down right on my mothers back patio.

A month went by before she mentioned it.

"There's a dog that's been hanging around here but we aren't keeping it," she said.

"What kind of dog is it?"

"Well we don't know yet but she looks a lot like Stella, in her body."

"I don't think it's a pit bull though", she said adding:

"It doesn't matter because we're not keeping her."

"What's her name Mom?"


Well of course Dolly stayed and she's even allowed in the house now and I never miss a chance to tell Mom that maybe she ought to have that dog put to sleep before she gets too attached. Now she shames me for suggesting such a thing. Dolly has exactly Stella's body. It's almost a mirror image although the thing about Dolly is that she gets most of her exercise CHASING DEER through the woods. Her muscles are more well-developed than Stella's. They're a perfect match for each other although I believe Dolly might be the product of a Boxer and a Jack Russel Terrier, which if you think about it in relation to the pit bull, is a similar combination of genes. Willful, hard-headed, strong, tenacious dog. They met briefly back in the winter but had never officially hung out together until last Saturday and their friendship got off then to a rocky start.

When I get Stella out of the car, there are three adults and a dog on the patio waiting for us to walk between two Biggie-sized cars. Think of the view (not to mention the exhilaration) athletes get running out of the tunnel onto the field and you see where I'm going with this. Eight pairs of eyeballs, one if them a strange dog, all trained on her. And basically, because everybody thought they were going to fight - they felt compelled to. There was a lot of trash talk but no puncture wounds. We got them apart and mom announced that Dolly was going to have to be put in the basement for the rest of the day.

"No," I said, "Dolly is NOT going to be put in the basement. If we do that, then they'll hate each other forever. I think we should just keep them on their leashes and give them a chance to sniff around and figure each other out."

I can't remember who did the play bow first but right after that, it was on. I let Stella off her leash first and after a few minutes Dolly was also liberated. It turns out they both like to wrestle. Over the course of the day, they had six or seven different rounds of Smackdown. It was so easy to see how a bunch (idiot) humans could have cajoled them into a real fight. People sometimes get nervous about this particular style of play because it's rough but the dogs always seem overjoyed to find one another. Stella's only encountered a few playmates who really fit that description, one of them was the German Shepherd, Sampson, another a white Labradoodle named Zoe. Both really gave her a run for her money and they ended up exhausted and lying in the dirt next to each other. Dolly fit the bill too and I think it's safe to say that she and Stella are officially BFF's.

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