If you have read this column much you know I have a love-hate relationship with a dog I “inherited” from my youngest son about three years ago. If you didn’t know, well, now you do.
While the little feller no longer consumes blankets, Legos, anything plastic, towels and rags, and various other items at the rate he once did, and he sometimes can now be trusted not to dash out any door even slightly cracked open, he’s still a nuisance. He sheds at a rate I didn’t know was possible, begs endlessly if I’m eating, and has to be watered, fed and let outside to do his thing often.
Now, before you dog lovers start yelling and throwing things at me, understand that I really do like the little guy. Ask anyone in my home. He gets more attention and more snacks from me – despite the youngest son’s objections when he’s home – by far, than he does from anyone else.
We have a cat we inherited about a year after we inherited the dog. He’s cool.
He showed up at our house one day a couple years ago, my live-in grandson started feeding him, and he’s never left.
He stays in our garage, only occasionally sneaking inside to drink out of a downstairs toilet. Don’t ask me why. He has plenty of access to water. But if he can sneak inside the garage door while someone else is coming in or out, or leaves the door open, he’ll usually head straight for the bathroom. He has a soft rocking chair to sleep in, with blankets piled on top in the winter. But for some reason he has a fondness for my red-felted pool table. He’s black. That’s not a good mix.
But it’s OK. He is the most friendly cat I’ve ever came across and he’s my garage buddy. Other than trying to climb on my chest to rub his head on my chin when my clothing is too thin, we have absolutely no problems. He likes me – a lot, it seems – and the feeling is mutual.
I have a brother who says he’s just waiting to get a clean shot at my jugular vein, but I don’t think so. He just wants a little attention, and sometimes he’ll even nibble my ears to let me know he does.
The dog is not so friendly. Oh, he sleeps with the grandson, or the youngest son when he’s home. And he’s very good at letting us know when someone pulls into our driveway. But other than that he doesn’t like a lot of attention.
Unless he takes one of his about twice-daily moods and decides he wants to play. He also usually greets each of us when we enter the house. Despite being only about a foot tall, and about 40 pounds (the son complains that it’s because I give him too many snacks), sometimes when I walk in the house he’ll come running jump about waist high, knocking me back a step or two with his front paws.
And if he’s really rambunctious, and I’m not paying enough attention, he’ll chase me around, nipping at my backside. He recently tore a hole in the back of my favorite windbreaker. I’ve had it for many years and have worn it without causing it any damage, until Duke decided it was time to play and he wanted my attention.
By the way he jumps all over me when he’s outside, I think he likes me. And I like him, most of the time. But he threw me a painful curve a few days ago.
My youngest son and I were heading into the house to hit the sack for the night. We were talking, and I wasn’t paying attention where I was walking. That’s when I tripped over the dog’s leash we use when we let him outside.
While trying to catch my fall, and without time to look, my first step landed on a long piece of metal tubing. It was elevated about an inch off the ground. My right foot landed on the tube with all my weight, rolled off, came down on the concrete floor at an awkward angle, and before I really knew what had happened I was flat on my back on the garage floor.
My son was laughing, I was moaning, and after a bit I asked him if he could stop laughing long enough to help me off the floor.
By then my wife was on the scene and the two of them pretty much had to carry me inside.
Still, it was obvious they were both a little tickled. I wasn’t. I was telling them it didn’t feel like a normal sprained ankle, but they pretty much said to take a couple aspirin and I’d be fine in the morning.
But I wasn’t fine in the morning. My ankle was swollen and I could barely walk. To make a long story shorter, four-plus days later I went to the hospital. It took them less than five minutes to take an X-ray and tell me I definitely had a broken ankle.
To be honest I felt kind of proud of myself a few hours later when I walked in the house with a big boot on my leg and crutches. I told you all, I told my wife and son.
Then my attention turned to Duke, who dancing dangerously around my crutches. Stupid dog, I thought, if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be in this predicament.
But if I have to be honest again, the dog was not on the leash when I tripped over it, and the leash was probably lying exactly where I left it the last time I let the dog in the house.
So, Duke, I guess you’re off the hook this time. But I still like the cat better.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.