One year ago this week, a bulldog appeared in our yard. He was thirsty and starved. I could see his ribs. He had mange, and the white hair left on him was full of fleas. My conscience would not let me drive him from our yard hungry. I checked with a …
One year ago this week, a bulldog appeared in our yard. He was thirsty and starved. I could see his ribs. He had mange, and the white hair left on him was full of fleas. My conscience would not let me drive him from our yard hungry. I checked with a few neighbors, but I knew the answer before I asked. A heartless person had abandoned the animal, hoping that he would starve, or that someone would put him down. It broke my heart. But the story doesn’t end there.
I took the dog to the vet with the intention of putting him down. The dog, not the vet. The vet looked him over and read out a long list of maladies. The worst things on the list were heartworms and the fact that he was deaf. Even without the benefit of hearing, the dog followed the conversation between the vet and me. The critter somehow knew his life depended upon the outcome. When I looked down into his sad eyes, I could not do it. Pulling the phone from my pocket, I called Jilda to let her weigh in on the decision. She said we didn’t need to go to the beach right now anyhow. I handed the vet my Visa card.
The vet tech stood nearby, and stepped closer when the doc left the room. “You know, quirk dogs are the best ones,” she said. It turns out, she was right. He is a quirk dog, and he’s one of the best critters we’ve ever owned.
The treatment included a round of meds and surgery to neuter the mutt. When I picked him up afterward, he hopped up into the cab as if he’d been doing it forever. He then looked over at me as if to say, “Let’s go home, Daddy.”
It took a while for him to figure out where he fit in with the other two dogs, but it was much easier than I thought. It wasn’t long before his quirks began surfacing.
He went out with me one night to close the chicken pen gate. When I flipped on the flashlight, he ran around the yard barking and chasing the light beam. He will do it ‘till he drops. He also chases the shadows of butterflies.
He can’t hear me calling him, but when we’re walking, he responds to hand signals. The collie Calliou and the Yorkie Taz rarely come when I call unless I’m holding food.
His bed is in front of our great room windows. This position gives him an unobstructed view of the front of the house. When squirrels scamper down the trees to raid the bird feeders, he watches and quivers with rage. I can almost hear him thinking, “Daddy, those fuzzy critters have the gall to eat our bird seed! If you will open the door, I’ll put a stop to that.” Sometimes I do open the door for fun. He’s on top of those squirrels in a millisecond, but they are much too fast for him to catch one.
The other two dogs are terrified of fireworks and thunderstorms. Ol’ Hook sleeps through all of that.
A while back, a bounty hunter knocked on our door. We don’t get many visitors here, so I opened the door with caution. The guy stood well over 6 feet tall and had tattoos all over his arms and neck.
He was looking for someone I didn’t know. The bail jumper had left a nearby address. Ol’ Hook walked to the door and leaned against my leg as he evaluated the visitor. When the bounty hunter’s eyes fell on the dog, he involuntarily took a step back. “Is he mean?” he asked. I told him he could be if someone bothered my wife or me. “I can see that,” he said. He thanked me for my help and backed away toward his truck.
Since we have no idea how old Ol’ Hook is, we celebrate his birthday the first week of August. While I can’t comprehend why someone would abandon such a beautiful, loving creature, I am grateful he found his way to our yard.
Happy Birthday, Ol’ Hook.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, “Life Goes On,” is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.