Up a Tree

Fifteen thousand years ago, a wolf decided it was easier to live hanging out with humans. The wolf was descended by more different types of the species than any other on earth. One of those was many same but different canines made his way into my life. Dogs are wonderful creatures, with nothing else like them anywhere. Without the dog we would be far retarded in our physical and technological achievements because of their use and contribution. Dogs warn, guide, protect, find, and guard for us, performing a wealth of services no other species –or machine, can.

I had occasion to wonder about the various genes he carried, because of his amazing intelligence and unflagging spirit. The dog was up for just about anything; he rode on my motorcycle with me, in planes –even during aerobatics, in boats, cars, trucks, go karts and Lord only knows what other vehicles. Oh, yeah. I took him hang gliding. There was no question that the dog trusted me, and the same was true of me for him. The dog was family, and he deserved and got my respect and love.

So when he would do stupid things like climbing trees I would worry for him. On a few occasions I came to find my dog at the top of a tree, barking and whining pitifully. He and a neighborhood cat had some kind of contest going, and the dog was forever chasing the cat. But there were times when the dog had the cat flat cornered, he would let it escape, because it wasn’t a hint to hurt the cat, it was sport. But the cat, at least so far as the chase was concerned, was wily in its own right. It learned that it could not escape the dog by climbing a tree. The dog would climb right up after it. But the cat learned that it could lead him up the tree, and then scamper down and the dog would be left holding the bag, unable to get himself down. The dog could climb up, but never quite got the knack for going down. So he would sit in the tree and wail until I would hear him.

Then it was up to the fire department to get him down. The first time I called the fire department and told them my dog was stuck in a tree, the answering fireman thought I was joking and wasn’t amused. When I convinced him I was serious, he and his fellow firefighters made one of the three times I needed them to help my dog. They showed up with a bucket truck and made short work of the rescue. The dog knew the drill, and from the first time, as soon as the bucket neared him, he jumped from the tree into it. He would then ride calmly down and allowed himself to be picked up and deposited on the ground. He would then do his happy dog dance, wagging so hard he did a kind of rumba with his rear end, and his front paws were like they bounced on a trampoline, him yipping a happy noise all the while.

There were bad times, and the dog would sit with me and commiserate. I would talk to the dog and tell him things I’d never speak to another person and he would listen intently, occasionally tilting his head in that doggy questioning way. I learned to trust his instincts about people, because over time I learned that the people he growled at were people who should be growled at. And my dog was discerning.  He wasn’t a bull in a china shop, a bundle of uncontrolled enthusiasm. He picked his moves as he picked those he liked, so very carefully. When a new friend of mine went to my home to fetch a tool we needed while working on a car, my dog allowed him to come in, but then refused to allow him to leave. No matter which exit my friend chose, he would start towards it and the dog would trot over and stand in front of it. Any try to move past him would merit first a growl, then barred teeth, and then a nip. I’m sure if my friend pushed it, he would have gotten to the point of biting. The dog did allow my friend to use the telephone to call over to where I was and ask me to come rescue him from the dog. Like I said, he was very measured in what he did.

For the most part, where I was the dog would go. But he had a life of his own as well, and it never ceased to surprise me when I would find some of what he’d been up to. One day he came home dragging a drawer. The pull type drawer from a dresser or desk. The next day I was passing by a garage sale and noticed a matching piece of furniture, missing a drawer I found familiar. I returned the drawer to its owner, explaining that I didn’t know why the dog had taken it. The following day, there were two drawers on the ground next to my door. I took them back and their owner suggested I simply buy the piece from him. I told him that if I realy wanted it, my dog would get it for me. Then too, the dog never brought any more drawers.

I had the dog for 13 years, and when he died on a Christmas Eve, my heart broke. He’d been much like a close brother, that was always there and always had my back. He was a confidant, a friend, and a protector. He was no purebred, in fact, he was a runt and likely would have died had I not picked him up and brought him home with me. He was there to greet me when I’d been out, or he was with me as I went. He was truly a perfection of evolution, started so many, many years ago in East Asia.