Published in the Rains County Leader on July 11, 2017:
David and I are Spike-sitting again. For those readers who have not been introduced to Spike, he’s a Great Pyrenees mix who likes for us to come over and play when he’s home alone. His people went in different directions this time. She’s on a travel-business river cruise in Europe, and he headed north on road trip, so we’ll be with our furry friend for ten days.
There have been some major changes since our last visit. Kent called on Thursday on his way out of town to let me know that Spike has become a house dog. Although he loves to run around in the woods and the hay fields, he doesn’t tolerate the heat well, so when the triple digit temperatures arrived, he was allowed to come inside during the heat of the day. He behaved so nicely that he has now been invited to spend most of his days – and nights – inside. Not only that, but he has also begun to walk on a leash.
In spite of being warned, I was shocked when we walked into the house Thursday afternoon. It was like the canine version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” The dog who wandered down the hallway from the living room to greet us at the door to the garage looked like Spike, but he acted like a completely different dog. I braced myself for his usual enthusiastic greeting, but instead of jumping up and trying to lick my face, he gently nuzzled my hand, asking to be petted. When I encouraged him to go outside for a run, he yawned and wandered over to the patio where he laid down in the shade. After a few minutes, I invited him inside where he asked for more petting and then sprawled out on the floor with only a little gentle persuasion.
He stayed out of the way while I cooked dinner, and he lay quietly between David and me while we ate. After the kitchen was cleaned, I took him for a walk on his leash. He walked very sedately with very little pulling, and he did his business just like a city dog. It was eerie!
By the time David and I were ready to go to bed, Spike was snoring in the middle of the floor, so we said good night quietly and slipped off to our room. Sometime later, I was sleeping soundly when Spike began to bark. Keep in mind that very big dogs have very big barks. Spike was no exception, and he was very persistent. I hit the floor and glanced at the clock on the bedside table – 2:00 am!
I stumbled into the living room, trying without success to shush him while at the same time trying to figure out what was upsetting him. He finally planted his feet, set his face toward the TV, and barked furiously. I turned on the light and discovered the source of his anxiety. The shelf holding the TV receiver and cable box had given way, and the offending equipment was dangling by a tangle of wires sprouting from the wall. Even my untrained eyes could see that the screws supporting the shelf had sheared off. This was not going to be a quick fix.
I left the mess for David to deal with later, soothed Spike into a prone position, and went back to bed – for about two minutes. After a couple more failed attempts at settling him down, I gave up and dragged a pillow and blanket to the couch where I could reassure him when he began to worry again. Finally, we both fell into an exhausted sleep until my alarm went off at 5:00 am.
I left for a three-day women’s retreat shortly after that, leaving Spike in David’s capable hands. Now, David is not what I would call a real pet person. He has come to love Kitty, and he’s her favorite – but when it comes to huge, noisy dogs, he can sometimes be a little short on patience. I just hope they both behave while I’m gone. I don’t want to come back and find either of them in the doghouse.