Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"The dog was created especially for children. He is the god of frolic."        ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Our Oliver was "somethin' else"! He was the quintessencial Old English Sheepdog... big, jolly, curious, and friendly... Oh so friendly! We live on a secret cul-de-sac that no one but we neighbors seem to know about, and we all like it this way. We have nearly no traffic, so our dogs can come out to play with us and each other on the narrow street between our houses... it's amost like we live in a dog park.  And do we have dogs!  Big ones, little ones, leaping gazelle-like dogs, fluffy feather boa dogs, and even a dog that reminds you of what a Mafioso must be like... 

But big old Ollie was the Marshal Dillon of the block! The "guys" would be playing in the street with all of us standing around watching them and talking, and Ollie would be bouncing around like the drover dog that he was born to be. But, if he thought one of the "guys" was getting out of line a little, he'd wander over to the "ruffian" and rest his huge fluffy front paw on that dog's back... just rest it there for a moment. The dog would calm down right away, and then, off they'd all go, running toward the hill at the end of the street. I swear the dogs were laughing all the way there and all the way back, too! If Ollie had a vest to wear, I would have found a badge for my fuzzy Marshal Dillon!  

Ollie had a special friend among the "guys." Yoda was a light-tan pug, and he couldn't have been cuter or lazier. It was never too warm for Yoda. In fact, his favorite place to nap in the summer was in front of Helen's house right on top of a black-tar repair in the street! There's a raised island of grass with 3 bushes there on our dead-end street by Helen's house, and it always looked like a perfect dog-snooze area to me. But Yoda preferred the tar! Go figure... 

Ollie (his full name was Oliver Hardy) had his favorite dog-snooze area, too.  It was moveable, though... I'd sit down on the carpet in the living room with my legs crossed, just the way I like to watch TV. Oliver would step across across my legs. That was my cue to straighten out my legs for him, so he could fall in a huge, fluffy heap across my lap. He'd turn and look straight into my eyes only inches away from his, slurp up one side of my face and then down the other, give a big Sheepdog-sized sigh, and that was my cue... I was supposed to pet him all night-long. Talking was permitted by Ollie, as long as it was to tell him what a wonderful dog he was and how we just couldn't live without him... you know, stuff like that. Richard would be sitting in his comfortable easy-chair after a hard day's work, looking for a little peace and quiet. But he didn't dare move too much, or a large shaggy beast, we both knew and loved, would decide to crawl up on his lap and kiss him to pieces! That was our Oliver! 

There was another dog who lived on our street, but we never saw him in the light of day... at least I never had. He was a mini-pin, a smallish black and brown version of a doberman. His owner worked long hours and would take him for his walk later in the evening when it was dark, usually while I was sitting upstairs on the bed grading endless English papers. Now, I love fresh air, and I always have the windows open, at least a little bit.  Fresh air feels bracing to me, especially with the piney smell wafting in from the tree outside... a typical weekday evening at the Waldron's.

One night, all at once and without a sound, Ollie jumped off the bed and attacked the upstairs bedroom window screen with a sort of violence I'd never seen before in him! He growled! He barked, savagely! He wanted to jump through that screen!

I went to the window to see what was out there... Could be a coyote...  we have them here in these hills... Could be a bobcat... Could even be a cougar... PLEASE don't let it be a skunk, again... 

Nope, it was the mini-pin trotting past on his leash with his owner coming along behind! Our Ollie was dead-set on doing harm to that little dog below! He wanted to jump out of that second story window and savage that nervous, quiet little dog prancing by our house... OUR OLIVER!

He didn't stop his growling bark until the mini-pin had walked out of our little street! Then Ollie jumped up on the bed with me and sat, smack-dab, on top of a stack of freshly-graded essays, like always. Oliver was back, and Mad Dog Hardy was gone...

About 20 minutes later, Oliver, in full battle-mode, jumped off the bed and hit the window in one lunge, growling, barking, maddened by the mini-pin daring to walk past our window again on his way back home! Oliver was schitzo... what else could it be?

Richard solved the mystery of our pet Dr. Jeckell/Mr. Hyde. I seems that the little mini-pin had actually seen the light of day on his walk the day before Ollie's freakish behavior! In fact, his owner had let him off the leash early that afternoon when he saw Yoda lying there on the tar, sleeping. The owner had expected to see the two little guys play, but I guess the mini-pin expected to have dinner with Yoda...  of Yoda... well, something... He had attacked the sleeping Yoda and taken a couple of chunks out of him before his owner had pried him off! 

Now loyalty was aways our Oliver's strong suit. He and Yoda played together in our yard, in his yard, and on our street. I guess he decided that no one was going to mess with his buddy... no one. This time he wasn't just going to put his paw on this up-start's back... he was going to take him to jail! Remember, Oliver was the dog version of Marshal Dillon, after all.

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