On One Particularly Beautiful Day

A beautiful day in the neighborhood. A good day to do just about anything.

Beginning with a long walk along the bay, watching fish jump for entertainment. Or, whatever fish jumped for–catching prey, impressing fish of the opposite sex–who knew?

Breaking for witty banter with some of the neighbors. Wasn’t traffic near the newly-opened amusement park beginning to snarl?

The pooches had a friendly get-together. There were no canine disagreements. What kind of dog was a Feist? Nobody
knew exactly.

“It was a small hunting dog.” “It was the same as a rat terrier?” “A Jack Russell?” “Must have been from Germany–the name sounded Germanic.”

Business was closed without any new business. The consensus was to wait-and-see on the Feist dog. One of the neighbors was acquiring a new pup.

What Sisters Were For

Max is now seven.  He’s gotten a bit chunky, has slowed down; grunts when he rises or lays down.  A characteristic he adopted from his daddy.  Maggie, his canine sibling, is six–shows no signs of slowing down.  She goads him until he plays or grooms her.

Every morning we go for a walk.  Max isn’t as eager to go–especially in warmer weather.  Maggie is relentless, “C’mon brother, get up–it’ll be fun!”  She nudges-finally lays down beside him and rolls him over.

Max grunts, accented by intermittent snoring, “Let me sleep, please.”

He relents and out the front door we go.  Max rebels, the only way he knows how.  At the end of the driveway, he stops, sniffs the air; turns around.  “OK, I’m done, take me back to the house.”

When Maggie and I return, Max is once again ready to go.  So, I take him on a shorter walk, as time permits.  Maggie did her job by pestering her somewhat laggard older brother.  She’s mean to Max, but he still loves her.


The mere sight of him strikes fear in the hearts of some people.  Walkers and joggers carry clubs to fend him off.  One man’s hatred drove him to attempt murder with his car.  He’s been known to sneak up from behind and nip the unsuspecting.   He’s been incarcerated many times.  Scars of battle are scattered over his body.  He’s got numerous bad habits–one of which is chasing cars.  Even serious injury hasn’t stopped him.

Somehow he manages to stay just this side of the law and the dog-catcher.  I’m referring to “Gizmo”–a black and white, not quite purebred, Border Collie.  He wanders aimlessly through the neighborhood at all hours.  His bed is a large hole in the front yard.  When it rains, Gizmo wears a fresh coating of dried mud.  I’m sure his mug shot is in County Animal Control’s “Rogues Gallery.”

Neighborhood humans tolerate, love, or hate him.  Canines see him quite differently.  To most of them, he’s their “Fonzie.”  Like the genuine article, he thumbs his nose at authority.  He has a questionable reputation, that he revels in.  Education, he has no use for, and doesn’t have good breeding.  Females of the species dig his bad-boy image.  He’s their leader–a loveable rogue.  They want nothing more than to follow him.  My two dogs, Max and Maggie, think he’s “the berries.”  “Lady Di,” my friend’s senior Australian Shepherd, adores him.  She cries and whines to see him.  Gizmo acts like he could care less.  Admiration is expected.

Max, Maggie and me wait for Gizmo every morning.   He comes along when he’s good and ready.  It couldn’t be because of good grooming habits.  After canine pleasantries, we’re on our way.  Gizmo walks in front as lead dog.  If a car approaches, he crouches in the ditch and jumps out as it passes.  Thank God, my dogs haven’t picked up that bad habit.  Gizmo checks for squirrels, cats, and critters as we walk.  Apparently when younger, he injured several neighborhood cats.  He’s reputed to have bitten several people.  There’s one cat that refused to submit one day.  She chased Gizmo, teeth and claws bared, across three lawns.  Gizmo was totally freaked out.  She’d out bullied a bully–it was an amusing sight.

Gizmo has, no doubt, fathered numerous puppies in the neighborhood.  Being a non-neutered male, accounts for his desire to wander.  There are several black and white mixed breed puppies in the neighborhood.  No doubt, they’re his progeny.  His latest “girlfriend” is a light tan mixed breed female named “Ginger.” Sometimes he’ll stop off for a clandestine rendezvous.  He’s in surprisingly good health for being around nine years old.  If Gizmo’s not around, he’s been picked up by Animal Control.  Owners pay the fines and he’s, out once again, roaming neighborhood streets.  There must not be a “three strikes and your out law” for dogs.

My first encounter with him was in my driveway.  Gizmo growled at me when I fetched my morning paper.  That took a lot of nerve.  I angrily sent him off to where he came from.  Gizmo seemed to like me when I adopted a dog of my own.  He let my German Shepherd mixed breed puppy know he was boss.  Later when my dog “Dillon” reached maturity.  Gizmo challenged him on one of our walks.  He approached, growling with his lips curled back.  It didn’t take more than a few minutes.   Gizmo ended up on the bottom and lost the match.  After that Dillon and Gizmo were friends.  Something in me admires Gizmo’s independent spirit.  I’m an old softie, and sneak him treats.  My thought is, if he had proper training and guidance, he could have been a great dog.  The “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan’s, “There are no bad dogs, only bad owners.” applies to Gizmo.