Let me digress…

I had always wanted a cockapoo (cocker-spaniel and poodle mix) and as a household with multiple dogs the time came when one of our ‘babies’ passed away.  We went to a pet shop from which we had previously purchased puppies.  And there he was: the cutest, most adorable cockapoo I’d ever seen.  He had black curly hair and didn’t seem to be a barker.   While his sibling yapped and yipped up a storm, this puppy just sat with loving look that just seemed to plead, “Pick me! Pick me!

So we picked him.  He was a tiny thing and was so young that he still had his baby teeth.  We knew that eventually his adult teeth would come in, even as we’d find baby teeth around the house or in our hands as we’d roughhouse with him.  We named him Sergeant Wolfgang.  I was just finishing the Police Academy and, well, we had hopes for a promotion for either my husband or me.    Meanwhile we just called him ‘Wolfy’.

Wolfy fit right in with the three kids, three cats and a black Sheppard-lab mix named Inky.   But within two or three months we came to the realization that Wolfy’s so-called ‘baby teeth’ were, in fact, his adult teeth. And then, to our amazement and consternation we discovered that a dog’s tongue is held in its mouth by its canine teeth.  Wolfy had no canine teeth.  Wolfy’s tongue never stayed in his mouth.  He was still adorable but his long tongue hung out the left side of his mouth.  Sometimes, I think, he’d get bored and let the tongue hang out of the right side of his mouth.  But mostly he just let the tongue hang out of
the left side of his mouth.

No matter what side of his mouth his tongue hung out of it was sadly amusing to see Wolfy try to kiss the other dog, people or even the cats.  If, in fact, Wolfy’s claim to fame was simply the way his tongue hung out of his mouth I wouldn’t be writing about
him.  No.  Wolfy had one attribute above all else – he was fearless!  Incredibly fearless!  Like when we owned the restaurant and bar in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or as it’s commonly referred to: the U.P.

Wolfy, as all of our animals, was city born and bred.  Thus when we ended up in the U.P. the animals were a bit shocked by all the open spaces.  We were on 5 acres of land right next to the huge forests of the U.P.  In fact, after a few trips in the really BIG
outdoors, the cats decided that being indoors was a lot safer than trying to figure out how to avoid all the strange animals that were usually bigger than cats.  Inky was a bit older and really at home inside wherever we lived.

Wolfy, all 20 lbs of his curly body, refused to be intimidated by any small, medium or large animal that crossed his path.   He
also loved to investigate the woods near our home and the culvert near the two lane highway that ran in front of our restaurant/bar.  We really disliked letting Wolfy out unless he was on a leash because we’d lose him so easily.  He was a tiny dog and the under-growth was a lot taller than he was.  Plus, as noted above he was fearless!  But, being a small dog, he could slip between our legs if, heaven forbid, we should open a door for any reason.

It was probably inevitable…Wolfy ran into the highway just as a car rounded a curve.  Neither dog nor driver had any idea that there was going to be an accident.  The car ran over the tiny dog but Wolfy was somewhat lucky because my husband had heard the squealing tires and a bump.  When Lenny ran out toward the road he saw poor Wolfy rolling out from under the car and down into the deep culvert.  The driver never stopped and Wolfy had totally stopped moving at the bottom of the culvert.  Lenny picked up Wolfy, gently carried him to the house and laid him on the ground.

Our teenaged children had come running out when they heard the commotion.    I was doing a few chores in the restaurant so
I didn't hear anything until my son ran in and yelled, “Mom! Wolfy’s dead!!”  In shock, I joined the family around this tiny, brave and very foolish dog that we had all loved so much.   Lenny and I saw a small movement in Wolfy’s chest but it was obvious that the dog had been seriously injured and wouldn’t live long.

Lenny nodded toward the house and we both stepped away from the kids.  Lenny was crestfallen as he said,”I’m going in for my gun to put Wolfy out of his misery.  Have the kids say their goodbyes.”

So I told the kids that Wolfy was probably in such pain that it would be best if we put him out of his misery.  We had only been living in the area for a week or so at that time and we had no idea how far a veterinarian would be.  They understood but no one wanted to be around when my husband put the poor thing out of his pain in such a bloody fashion.   When my husband came out with his police service revolver all of us backed away.  The noise of my husband cocking the revolver to be a single action
firing seemed excessively loud.  Lenny aimed the barrel at Wolfy who must have heard the gun being cocked.

Suddenly Wolfy jumped up and wagged his tail as he tried to kiss all of us with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.  It was like Wolfy was saying,”You guys don’t think I was going to die just because some stupid car ran over me.  I’m fine!”

And he was!  Wolfy never showed any signs of injury from being hit by a car.  My husband and kids breathed a sigh of relief and our family went back to normal.  However, Wolfy never went near that road again.

If that was the only time Wolfy’s fearlessness got him into trouble I could end this post here.  But it wasn’t.  Apparently small dogs have to prove themselves to all animals, even very large dogs.  The next foolhardiness on Wolfy’s part came after I’d moved back to Chicago following my husband running off with a bimbo barely older than our daughter.  There was a busy few years in between my moving back to Chicago, the divorce, my second marriage and the purchase of a new house.  At last we settled in.  The boys were off to serve in the military and my daughter was thinking about getting married.  My new husband, Hans, wanted his own dog and so we got a tiny Doberman puppy that was so loving we named him ‘Romeo’.

Wolfy loved having Romeo around because he was even smaller than the cockapoo.  They played happily together even as Romeo did what all puppies do; he grew, and grew, and grew.  Eventually one of the games the dogs would play was when Romeo would sit on Wolfy while Wolfy tried to squirm out from under the much bigger dog.  Nonetheless, both dogs treated each other with a sense of fairness if, by being fair, meant that Wolfy was really the boss!

Each day’s time for feeding, especially in the summer, meant that we fed the dogs outside.  Even though I’d set out two bowls of food Wolfy refused to let Romeo eat his food until he, Wolfy, was done eating.  I tried to separate the food bowls by large distances, no luck.  Whatever bowl Romeo wanted to eat from – Wolfy stopped him.  We would separate the bowl by putting them out of sight of each other.  Nope!  Wolfy would find Romeo and make him sit and wait until he had finished eating.  I mean here is a tiny, toothless (okay – teeny front top and bottom teeth but no canine teeth) dog with his tongue hanging out, who insisted on bossing this giant, but gentle Doberman.

Until one day…I have no idea of what set Romeo off but after I separated the food bowls, watched Wolfy put Romeo into a corner where he could watch him and I went into the house: I heard the fight!  I ran outside and Romeo wasn’t sitting quietly, he was making a dinner of Wolfy.  I don’t remember how I separated the dogs but after I did I drove immediately to the nearest vet.  One night in the hospital and 43 stitches later, Wolfy came home.  Naturally Wolfy had one of those giant cones around his head so he couldn’t chew the stitches.

Romeo couldn’t figure out why Wolfy looked so funny but he sniffed and kissed Wolfy and they lay together all that day.  When the food time came I separated the dishes and sat there figuring Wolfy had learned his lesson.  He hadn’t! Wolfy, all 43 stitches and giant cone on his head, made Romeo go back to a corner until Wolfy had eaten.  Romeo went into the corner and sat quietly until Wolfy finished and let Romeo eat out of his separate dish.  Of course, I no longer let the two eat without being a chaperone or by separating them with physical barriers like doors.  But from that day until the day we had to put Wolfy down because of old age, Wolfy made Romeo wait for his dinner.  And Romeo was very patient.  He never attacked Wolfy again.

Maybe Romeo was afraid of Wolfy’s tongue!


Filed under: Animal Tails


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