A Dog Ran Away With Everything!!

Published 8:07 pm Sunday, February 4, 2024

Ah February! The month of love. We humans have such a huge capacity for love and in many different forms. Therefore, I thought today that we could explore some of these many different types of love that we have tucked inside our hearts, and are different from the kind one human has for another, but is still a very strong feeling of affection. One of the strongest of these feelings is towards our pets. We cherish them and, in most cases, they are a part of our families.

Let’s start with the love we feel towards the animal that is called, “man’s best friend”, the dog. Then, in the weeks to come, we will go on to other animals that humans often choose to be their pets. We will need some cornbread muffins and hot coffee. Also, we will bring an extra muffin for our furry friend.

Archeologists think that dogs were the first animals to be domesticated, making them our earliest pets. However, when this started is not known for sure because humans didn’t domesticate dogs, the dogs changed themselves to adapt to us.

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This transformation began way back in history, when wolves, which usually had to hunt for their food, started to mix in with hunters and gatherers and scavenged their leftover food. Thus, they were taking advantage of what the humans had to offer. The wolves that were tamer and less aggressive, would have been the more successful at this. Humans did not benefit from giving the wolves food. Nevertheless, a sort of relationship had begun.

By around 10,000 BC, it was normal to see dogs that were somewhat domesticated. However, they weren’t what we would consider pets. They were semi socialized, semi wild, dogs. They bred freely around in the villages but did not live in folks’ homes.

At roughly 7000 BC, dogs and humans began to trust each other and bond as companions. This was shown in Israel, when a woman was buried with her four-month-old puppy, her hand gently resting upon the dog. This was the first evidence of that special bond.

Ancient Egyptians not only loved their cats but their dogs, too. Not only did they think of dogs as hunters but also as companions. A cave painting from 3500 BC shows a scene that looks like it could have been drawn in modern times, a man walking his dog on a leash. There is also evidence that in Mesopotamia, there was an early version of the dog leash and collar.

A Chinese Emperor, Ling Ti, in 168 BC, admired his dogs so much that he fed them the finest foods and assigned them special bodyguards. Romans of the same time period, kept small dogs as pets and their deaths were keenly felt as shown by the words on some of their tombstones.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, hunting was changed from a necessity for survival, to a sport for nobility. Thus, in the late 17th century, the hunting dog came along.

In the 19th century, Americans led the world in breeding prize winning dogs. This is when they became special companions in the home, at the hearth and as playmates for the children. By the 20th century, dogs were bread for specific jobs, not just hunting. Today, we have dogs that are the eyes for the blind, helping in the house with tasks. Dogs are also trained to be support for those with mental problems. They work for police departments and soldiers, helping by using their remarkable ability to smell certain things, from finding drugs to the bodies of those who had died in disasters. Some dogs can actually tell if a human is sick with certain diseases, one being types of cancers.

Dogs are very much an integral part of the South and the lives of the folks who live here. Therefore, we have developed a large collection of dog sayings. One that I hear a lot is: “That’s a hard dog to keep on the porch.” A variation of this is: “Run with the big dogs or stay on the porch”. I have also heard: “Happy as a tick on a fat dog” and ”Slept like a puppy in a pick-up truck.” There is also the popular excuse that is used when the teacher asks for your homework and the reply is: “The dog ate it!” In researching, I found this ad in an old newspaper: Dog for sale, eats anything, is fond of children”. This can be taken a couple of ways!

Dog names are another very personal part of our relationship with this remarkable creature. “Freebie” was a dog that was abandoned by its owners and adopted by someone who found it wandering along the road.

“Smoky the Brave” earned his name when he saved his owner by pulling on him to wake up when the house was on fire.

“Lizzie Bordon” was named after a friend’s unset mother-in-law, who was not happy that he chose her daughter to be his wife. However, it seems that for 14 years, Lizzie was a perfect match for her high energy, growing family. When the family talked about, Lizzie, they always remembered her as a paragon of canine virtue, intelligent, loving, comical, mellow and a hunter extraordinaire.

A most famous story was when she grabbed an enormous platter of fried chicken that was set out on the kitchen table. Lizzie was known to be able to “snake” her neck out in a most extraordinary way, grab food from the table and run.

Also remembered, was the time she demolished a pot of homemade chili that was cooling on their neighbor’s porch.

Then there is the terrier named Annie, that was a terror! Her owner described her as: “24 hours of sawed-off inquisitiveness. Always a busy body in charge of the world.”

Annie enjoyed attacking vacuum cleaners, leaf blowers, chair legs, CoCola bottles and suitcases. Not afraid of large dogs, she would stretch herself out to her full 12 inches, daring any dog to try to get past her.

Then there is the story of the senior couple who decided that it was time to enter into a senior care home. They were told that pets were encouraged because they were good therapy. Therefore, being dog lovers, they went out and adopted a little dog that was eight weeks old and weighed five pounds. They named him Grits.

His owners described their experiences with him this way: “Just like childbirth, the experience of owning a puppy had faded from my memory, said the wife. “ I did not remember the chewing, the potty problems, the shredded papers, the chewing, the ruined sneakers, the sleep deprivation and oh, did I mention the chewing?” Her husband added, “Then there is the constant whining, crying and yelping, not to mention the noises the puppy makes!”

As with most puppies, Grits was full of energy. He was a tireless retriever and had the climbing instincts of a mountain goat. His breed was one that had the instincts to hunt animals like weasels and badgers. So, not finding them readily available in southwest Georgia, he practiced on moths, stink bugs and cicadas with a remarkable amount of success.

Grits was also interested in chewing everything from sneakers to remote controls. He was very good at retrieving a cheese burger from your hand. His table manners needed a lot of work for he could get into the pantry and attack everything like he was starving to death. Everything became his puppy chow.

However, the couple did admit that he was very inspiring to watch because he found joy in chomping on everything! Oh, he enjoyed the possibilities for fun while snacking on just everything! He also would sniff and jump on top of everything before the attack. He was always willing to take a shot, no matter what the  previous results had been even if they were not always in his favor.

He was very good at recognizing kitchen sounds. Anytime any one would open the refrigerator door; he came a running. He could be deep in sleep but the minute the seal on the frig door was broken, his head would pop up and then he was on his feet at full tilt before the whomever opened the door had decided what they wanted. Grits wouldn’t beg or whine. He just watched closely because maybe something would fall and have his name on it!

However, Grits enthusiasm for life was not limited to his appetite. He was always open to new experiences and quite willing to get out of his comfort zone. On some days, Grits would seem to want to try to be a different animal even though he was not supposed to act in a certain way.

It was hard for the couple to forget the day that he decided to be a cat. He watched their cat all the time, as it gracefully danced across the back of the couch with effortless grace. Grits tried to do this and every time the couple would always hear thuds echoing through the house. His lack of coordination always got the best of him. Nevertheless, as the cat is laughing so hard it needed to hold its tummy, Grits would climb up on the back of the couch and thud go down in flames. The couple wasn’t sure what his hopes were. Maybe, he wanted to show the cat that he can do it or maybe it’s just because the couch was there.

One of my favorite stories was about the dog named John Deere, JD for short. He decided that because he was named for the tractor, he should be able to drive it, too. While JD’s master was walking out in the field, towards some cows, he jumped up and sat in the driver’s seat. The next thing, that the farmer knew was his tractor was crashing through the fence and crossing over the roadway! It then came to a stop, down in a ditch, on the other side of the road. It seemed that JD had leaned on the controls and set the enormous machine in motion. However, he hadn’t learned how to stop it!

Then, we have the short haired pup named, Wrong Way, because he always seemed to end up doing things the wrong way. For instance, the time he found a can of spray paint and managed to spray the walls in the house a stunning royal blue. Then, there was the time he dragged a bag of soil in from outside and when the bag ripped, it left a trail of dirt that went inside the house. Finally, he did tear up two couches. This is when the young owners now hoped he was done redecorating their home!

Perhaps, it is in the most horrific times when we all realized just what a dog is capable of. Many canines worked alongside the soldiers and the police during the terrorists attacks of 9/11. Let me share with you, this story I found in a New York newspaper, about a certain dog who rescued a blind man and a group of other folks during the burning of the South Tower. The headline reads: “Dog Leads Blind Man to Safety”.

“Mike Hingson, who is alive today, made his way to safety from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center, during the terrorist attacks on September 11th, thanks to Roselle, his 3 1/2-year-old yellow Labrador, seeing eye, guide dog.

‘Roselle did a good job, as she stayed focused and guided her master, pushing him to stay close to the side of the building. On the way down, more people joined Hingson and Roselle. Some of them had a lot of problems breathing, for the passage smelled of jet fuel.

‘Hingson and a friend, Dave Frank, rounded up six employees from another company who were there for a meeting and pointed them toward the stairs. Then Hingson grabbed his brief case and he, Frank, and Roselle headed down.

‘It took a half hour to walk down to the ground floor. Once outside, Frank told Hingson that both towers were on fire. As they ran, the South Tower came down in a huge, dirty cloud and they soon heard the North Tower collapse, too.

‘Lead by Roselle, they walked north for about 10 minutes, then Hingson called his wife, Karen, on his cell phone. He said simply, “It’s me.” By 7 pm, Hingson and Roselle had taken a train back home to New Jersey. “She never hesitated,” Hingson said, as the dog lay by his feet. “She never panicked”.

What is said about these well-trained dogs, is very true: they will work to save their masters until they drop.