A Perfect Dog

Scout-300x198Meet Scout. We just adopted him. Yes, I know: “That’s not a very original name.” My daughter already told me. But Atticus seemed a bit of a mouthful, Calpurnia was out of the question, and Jem sounds like “Gem,” and I didn’t want to be accused–again–of implying that we have the perfect dog. Although he might be, when he recovers from one tiny flaw. If I thought she had time to read, I wouldn’t cop to that either, since the same daughter expressed her hope that “the perfect dog,” would chew through a wall or two the first night he was home. She doesn’t want to be the only one with a Lab that will chew through any substance known in the universe.

Scout–named for his bright, curious nature as well as the literary allusion—had been deliberately abandoned. A vet found and took him to a shelter. The best guess is that he’s eighteen months old, all yellow Lab. He sure retrieves. He’s loving, great in the house, with people and other dogs. We’ve been keeping him leashed even though we hike in a natural area where dogs play off-leash. (He won’t until we have him reliably trained, even though he’s now microchipped and wearing identification.)

He’s been thrilled to run around our big back yard and fetch balls anyway. It’s fully fenced. Everything was going just perfectly. Until a workman at our house accidentally let him out the front door. Here’s what I learned:  this dog can run. I mean, a greyhound has nothing on this Lab. Not only can he run, he thought he’d invented the most fabulous game ever. I charged off after him, then decided it would be a fine idea to go back for shoes, since it was about five below zero with seven inches of snow on the ground.

As I ineffectually chased, held out treats and called, implored, begged, demanded that he “Come!” in three languages (you never know!), Scout flew behind houses reappearing on the other side, tail wagging mightily as he stood to look at me before he took off running again. I tried sitting on the road, thinking he wouldn’t be able to resist a wrestling target. No dice. I swear he laughed. Then he dashed off again, thoughtfully circling back to see if I was crying yet. (Doubtless difficult to discern because the tears had frozen on my face.) Certainly my language as well as my ungloved hands had turned blue.

Thus I had an intimate tour of three cul-de-sacs.  Long cul-de-sacs, all wooded. By now, every dog in the neighborhood was barking outraged  jealousy. And Scout ran on. Until…

Until he ran through an open carport down a steep slope into a wooded ravine. There was no chance I could follow him down there, given the ice and no cleats or climbing ropes. He appeared back at the top, wagging an excited challenge:  “What are you waiting for?”

Well, in this carport belonging to people I have never laid eyes on, was a Jeep. I was already in their carport, mind you, and their dog was heaving his body against their front door in a frenzy while making a great deal of noise that sounded like, “Come on, let me out you dummies, this exact moment is why you got an attack-trained Doberman!”

It was a desperation move.  Most of my genius moves are born of initial stupidity and total desperation. I turned my back on Scout and opened the door of the Jeep. (Sheer dumb luck that it was unlocked and no alarm went off.) Then I glanced around and, faking total nonchalance, said, “Wanna go for a ride?” He instantly covered the fifty feet between us, and in one bound was in the strangers’ jeep. I snapped the leash on him, closed the Jeep door as quietly as I could, snuck back down that long driveway while the Doberman threats echoed in the woods.  We headed home.

Yep, the perfect dog.

21 Responses to A Perfect Dog

  1. Wonderful story! Brilliant solution on your part. Scout sounds like he has personality plus! Looking forward to hearing what adventures he might engage in with your daughter’s dogs.

    • Thank you! Of course, if those people had opened the door for their attack dog while I was busy climbing into their Jeep to get the leash on my dog, I might not have appeared so smart. And we have realized that the dogs and babies will outnumber the adults at Christmas; we could be in big trouble!

    • Thank you so much, Mike, for both reading and commenting! We are fine, and I hope you are, also. (I remember your pup, Sweetie, too!)

  2. I’m so glad you were able to find a yellow lab old enough to keep house and home together. Our Jenny ended up with two lab pups. The day after she had to put their 14 year old yellow lab, Ellie, down, the neighbor’s labs had a litter of 8 beautiful pups. The kids fell in love with two of them, named them, and my crazy daughter couldn’t say “No”. Now everything under the sun and in the house has been chewed up, but these dogs are adorable most of the time. Though their mama was a yellow lab, the pups are chocolate and black. Hoping the Christmas tree survives!

    • Thank you! Well, we’ve just tonight discovered that Scout does indulge in a bit of counter surfing…so any leftovers better be promptly refrigerated, but he hasn’t chewed up any shoes, carpet, furniture, etc., yet… . (Two Lab puppies and four kids? Jenny is way, way out of my league.) Thinking of you Judi.

  3. Hi Lynne,

    Congratulations on the addition to the family. He sounds like a charmer.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours,

    Jane Biddinger

  4. I believe I remember a man who had to run his border collie along the fenced area of the interstate so he could herd trucks to wear him down-maybe that is what will have to happen to Scout. He will learn and then present yet another new talent…they are good at that! He is so lucky to have landed at your home. We all will stay tuned!!

  5. This left me doubled over with laughter. With your quick thinking skills & your ability to plunge into action at a moment’s notice, you should apply to be a S.W.A.T. team member.

  6. So you’ve got Scout! You already love him, I’m sure, but when I read your tale, I see exactly why I, at least, am way too old for a young dog like Scout. I lost, as you may recall, my beautiful black lab last summer, and I do want another sweet dog just like she was — a very relaxed and somewhat intellectual senior dog, who had enough to think about without also needing to run and play silly games. So I’ll keep looking, and in the meantime I will make do with George, my yellow cat. Not much of a thinker, but an affectionate friend to me.
    I’m busy at work on my new blog — hope I’m not too old for that, too. It’s about my books, and the Planet Earth, and the comedies of every-day life. (Try marthastephens on wordpress.)

    • Thank you Martha. I will look at your blog and enjoy it, I’m sure. If you check mvlrc.org and click on lab rescue, too, they have a couple of older labs in foster care–well trained ones!–for which they are looking for homes! You might be interested.

  7. You already know that I love Scout! The story is beautifully written. I have read it several times because it makes me smile.

  8. I assume you typed “resting target,” not “wresting target,” (its exact opposite, of course). I hate commuters who think they know better than you do what you’re trying to say. You should write a whole blog about that, some time.

    As to the naming of Labradors:

    Way back in my 1970 Boston days, my room-mate Larry hailed from New Jersey, and for a few months out of every year he would have custody of Sheba, his family’s black Lab, When he introduced me to this beautiful hound, I asked him how she had acquired the lovely name, Sheba. “Well, Preston,” Larry explained, “when we first got her, the papers from the previous owner said, ‘The dog’s name is Blackie.’ We didn’t think that was very imaginative, but we didn’t want to traumatize her by changing it, so we said ‘Okay — the dog’s name is Blackie.’ Then one day, she got lost in the Vaux Hall (sp?) neighborhood, which is like Harlem or Watts, and Preston, there was no way we were going to go through those streets yelling, ‘Blackie! Here, Blackie!’ So, later that night when she wandered home, we re-christened her Sheba.”

    • Actually, I did write “wrestling target.” Because that’s what young Labs do. They love to treat people as they would another puppy–a harmless, rolling-around romp. I’d thought he’d dash over and jump on me, because he’d been quick to do that if I sat on the carpet at home.
      I completely love your anecdote about Sheba’s name. Hysterical.

      • “Wrestling target!” I learn something new every day. And sometimes, it’s about dogs. Thanks for broadening anther one of my horizons.

  9. Hoist upon my own machine’s petard! Of coursed, I wrote “computers,” not “commuters.” That’ll teach me not to be too tired to proof-read my entire comment, no matter how late at night it is.

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