Nearly everyone has fond memories of their childhood pets, usually a dog or cat, and a favorite, charming story that they like to tell. Except me.
The two things I remember most about my dog are that he was uncommonly homely and he spent most of his time – how do I put this delicately – licking his posterior.
When we first got him as a puppy he was cute enough. You know how that is. ALL baby animals are cute. We were told he was a mixed breed and we’d have to wait until he grew up to see which breed’s qualities become dominant.
Despite his seemingly small size, I had visions of a retriever, a collie, a Labrador, or something equally cool. I even named him Hero in anticipation of how I was sure he was going to look.
Unfortunately, Hero stopped growing when he reached about twenty inches high and ended up looking like a cross between a bulldog and a Chihuahua. Only uglier. Not many dog names have been quite so contradicted by their looks.
I wasn’t that he was a bad-tempered dog, in fact just the opposite. When he was disciplined, which was often because he tended to piddle on the floor whenever he became excited, he would just look at you with a glazed, sappy expression.
He never made the connection between discipline and any sort of behavior on his part. It made little difference to him whether he was scolded or petted, he liked you just the same.
In fact, Hero admired everybody. This would have been an endearing trait except for the method he chose to display his admiration: he would piddle on your foot. You had to be particularly careful when taking him on a walk because whenever people stopped to talk with you, Hero would immediately fall in love with them, get excited, and piddle on their foot.
You had to sort of feel sorry for him, though. Besides the two habits already mentioned, his next favorite activity was playing fetch, but he was rarely given the opportunity. As you can guess, no one who knew him wanted to touch anything Hero had carried in his mouth, considering how he liked to otherwise spend his time.
He wasn’t much of a watchdog, either, because he was just as likely to fall in love with a stranger as he was with a friend. I suppose, though, that if a burglar broke into the house we’d know it from his yell of disgust when Hero piddled on his foot.
My Father was in a constant state of irritation whenever Hero was around. “Just look at that dog,” he’d mutter, “all he does is lay around the house all day licking his rear end. The only time he takes a break is to eat and piddle on the floor.”
While I can’t say I have a heartwarming story to tell about my dog, I do have one that I would call a vivid memory. With Hero, there were lots of vivid memories. One particularly stands out because my Father still can’t talk about it without shuddering.
Dad was taking a nap on the couch one day, lying on his back, sleeping comfortably. Hero wandered in, jumped up on the couch, and, in a show of blind affection, began licking Dad in the face.
Since Dad was a sound sleeper, this apparently went on for some time before he woke up. By then, his face was pretty wet and Hero was alternately licking his posterior and Dad’s face.
“Aaargh!” Dad shouted incoherently. “This dog licked me in the face after spending all day licking his butt. Get him out of here!”
Hero got so excited that Dad was actually paying him some attention for a change, he piddled on his lap. It was at this point that it was decided that we should find another home for Hero.
It was surprisingly easy. The first people who came to look at him took him home. After all, how could you pass up a dog that became so excited when he met you that he piddled?
Especially when we told them that it was so unlike him….heh, heh.