Give a Dog a Shoe

George has a love affair with shoes.  Kick off a shoe in the house and one will go missing.  The very first thing George does each morning is to grab a shoe and trot joyfully through the house holding the footwear du jour triumphantly in his mouth, tail wagging and Mohawk tilting from left to right. Upon arriving home in the evenings, I am greeted at the door by George, shoe planted firmly between his teeth.  When George wants to go outside, he waits impatiently at the back door with a shoe.  Ever the optimist, he hopes that he will go unnoticed and successfully sneak it outside. It happens more often than I would like to admit.

On a moonless night, George managed to sneak by me with the English Boy's loafer.  I yelled at the devious dog and ordered him to halt but, as usual my commands fell on deliberately deaf ears.  I ran into the inky darkness of the backyard, searching for the disobedient canine whose fur is mostly black. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack.  Haystack...I spied movement on top of the pile of grass clippings and carefully turned in that direction, avoiding potential landmines that four dogs have a tendency to leave behind. George was on top of the pile digging furiously.  He stopped as I approached, then darted back into the house without the loafer.  I patted the clippings without success, aware of my severe allergy to the mountain of grass.  Defeated, I returned to the house and attempted to interrogate George.  That went well.

The next day the Englishman was sent on a search and rescue mission for the shoe.  It was buried deep within the grass pile and a spider had taken up residence.  I was glad it wasn’t my shoe.

Sneakers, loafers, pumps, sandals, flip flops and boots.  George doesn't distinguish between them. For him, if the shoe fits...carry it!


Le Chien?

The Frenchman had just moved to Georgia and had a lot to learn about the South. He tried to chase a black and white cat from beneath his car one morning only to discover it was a skunk so it didn’t surprise anyone when he discovered a stray dog in his driveway one day and decided to keep it.

It was a most unusual creature with tufts of fur matted at odd angles to its body. The Frenchman brought the mangy mutt inside his home and promptly gave it a bath. He towel-dried the dog, brushed the fur and cut the tangles. He fed it and made a bed out of an old blanket. Later that evening, as he tried to sleep, the dog stood by the front door and howled incessantly. At last, the Frenchman couldn’t listen to the awful noises and tossed the dog outside.

In the morning, the dog had disappeared. As the Frenchman left his house to run a few errands, his next door neighbor approached him and warned him that there was a very clean-looking coyote wandering the yard the night before.


For Whom the Bell Tolls

The Englishman was clearly frustrated as he incessantly pulled the chain on the small bell hanging by the back door.  "Your dog won't come inside even though I have rung the bell," he decreed.  "My dogs obeyed."  He looked at me as though this was somehow my fault.  I mentioned that it would be helpful to actually train Chase on what the ringing of the bell meant before pinning the disobedient label on him.   I pulled on the chain and listened to the pleasant chime of a bell that tolled more like a lullaby than a tornado siren.  Chase would never hear the sound as it wasn't loud enough to break his concentration.  I glared at the Englishman, walked down to the pond and ordered Chase to the house with one pointing finger.

A few weeks later, the Englishman installed a larger, shinier brass bell with a thick rope attached to the clapper.  It looked as though it would be more at home on a military ship than the back door.  When I pulled the rope, a loud clang rang through the neighborhood and echoed across the pond.  I was certain that all the dogs within a mile radius would line up at the back door each time it sounded.

After using it for several days, my fears were alleviated as only the four-pack ran toward the house when the bell tolled.  Up the hill, ears flopping, tongues dangling, all heeded the call.  A little bit of effort proved that even an older dog could still learn a new trick and that when "the bell tolls, it tolls for thee".