Monday, April 30, 2007

Puppy Love

Dog-sitting Shino the pit bull mix was an enormous pleasure. I love getting on the floor with a dog and wrestling, playing tug-of-war, and all those fun activities expressly forbidden by the Monks of Skete because they suggest to a dog that you might be no more than a chew toy. Well, to Shino I was nothing more than a chew toy. One that occasionally dispensed food and provided amusement.

I have wrested Labs, Dobies, German Shepherds, Beagles, Rotties, Danes, Mastiffs, Saint Bernards, and Newfoundlands—none of them came close to the compact power of Shino. During a game of tug-of-war he pulled me around on our wood floors like I was an empty pillow case. He reduced a fifty-yard hemp rope to a pile of bird nesting material in a matter of minutes. I weigh almost three times what Shino weighs, but no matter. In the backyard I was seated on a raised garden bed with Shino on a leash when the dog jumped up and pulled me not only to a standing position but over and down again onto my knees. A powerful beast, and indefatigable. I bless him for his frothing monstrous jaws and furious barking display when anyone approached our front door. Those Jehovah's Witnesses didn’t even bother asking to come in, and stuffed The Watchtower under the welcome matt before fleeing in terror.

There were some difficulties, of course:

During the night Shino barked at every sound, and perched with his front paws on our windowsill to look outside to investigate these noises. Shino can hear dust motes settling on the moons of Mars, so you can imagine how much sleep I got Friday. Our 2nd floor windowsills have great gouges in them from his mighty toenails.

A. said Shino never begs. Despite her assurances, Shino made it clear that any food item I ate was granted me solely by his forbearance. My ham sandwich, for example, was implicitly half his, and any failure to provide the protection percentage meant loss of limbs. When I only gave him a third of a ham sandwich, for example, Shino ate off six of my fingers, leaving me four out of pity. (Thank you to Doctor Steve Friedman for the reattachment surgery at Shock Trauma.)

Shino heeled at the intersection of Druid Park Lake Drive and Madison, sitting obediently as we waited for the light to change. Unfortunately he dropped one of his tennis balls into traffic as we waited, and lunged forward. This is the Worst Case Scenario for a dog-sitter. Fortunately Shino was not injured, but the same cannot be said for the VW Passat that struck him. Let's just say that the owner was lucky to have air bags.

Shino tried to climb the fire escape when some guests went up to explore the roof at our house. He got a third of the way up and then became unsure of himself. Trying to help him turn around without getting gnawed was interesting to say the least.
Everybody in our neighborhood loved Shino. Friends and relatives who dropped by over the weekend loved him. Even other dogs loved him. I miss him already, and didn't even get to snap a photo because the wife had both cameras with her. Sigh.


Bock the Robber said...

Shino sounds like a fine dog.

I wish I had Shino instead of Satan, my Jack Russell. The neighbours have taken up a petition.

geoff said...

Strangely enough, our neighbor two doors up has a Jack Russell named Satan.

And rightly so. He smells of brimstone.

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