anger or instinct


The dog before Willow was named Slinky, she was brave like Willow, but also a physically perfect specimen of her breed.

She would dig for hours for gophers and mice. Once I saw her leap into the air and catch a bird taking off out of the long grass. She didn’t like the cold and wouldn’t swim. She often looked at me like I was crazy, as if to say, isn’t there an easier way.

In the bush she was always on guard, refusing to sleep as long as we were in the open. 

When the girls were young they would light a fire in the yard and have friends over. This was the same time my good neighbour Larry had a constant stream of couch surfers at his place, most harmless enough. Lost souls he was lending a hand at the expense of his wife and children who had moved out.

Every now and again Larry got a real winner. Roy was one of those. He came off like a salesman, he had the bloated look, the laugh when nothing was funny, but no teeth, except one right in the front. Larry told him, try to hang onto it as it could be the anchor for a plate.

Roy even got a job running the local bar, until he was drinking more than they were bringing in.

Roy, once a long time ago, was coming home drunk and ran up on the kids having their fire. Slinky got him before he got there and bit his hand, she was aiming for his nuts, but he wisely got his hand down in time. 

Roy’s night was over. The booze and dog bite will take it out of you, especially if you have no teeth to bite back.

The kids got me, I escorted Ray the remaining way to Larry’s. I was concerned he might report being bit by a dog. I told him I was pissed off, because my dog might have caught rabies from him. 

Lisa was concerned that Slinky was turning angry, the friendliest dog, could bite someone. Lisa asked me to take her to the vet to see if she was in pain, maybe she had bad teeth. It turned out I had bad teeth, Roy had one bad tooth, but Slinky’s teeth were in perfect condition.

Slinky was doing what just came natural.

In this day and age we have plenty of threats running up on us. Some of them are real, most are not. I’m like an old dog and can’t tell the difference. My hackles are up, my bad teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. It’s a miracle I have any bite at all. 

8 thoughts on “anger or instinct

  1. Carol A. Hand

    It sounds as though Slinky was good at her job, Bob. I have been fortunate to have similar companions. I adopted Pinto, like my last dog, Cookie, from a shelter where they lived after being abandoned. They were rescued from the streets as young dogs – Cookie was 2, and Pinto, 3. Cookie had been in the shelter for 6 months before I adopted her, and Pinto came missing teeth and a warning about about biting with the ones that were left. Both displayed signs of prior abuse and appeared to be very good judges of people’s trustworthiness.

    It always amazes me that people fail to heed my stern warning not to try to pet them. Cookie was the most protective and gentle, but she was an 80-pound Black Norwegian Elkhound. If a strange man she didn’t trust came too near or reached toward me, one could tell by her stance that she was on guard. if they continued to come closer, she would simply wrap her teeth around their wrist without breaking the skin. They heeded her warning. Pinto, though, is tiny and fierce. I have no idea what his life was like before I adopted him. Because he’s so cute and little, people often want to pet him. Children and women ask if it’s okay. When I tell them no and explain why, they listen. Sometimes he will initiate contact signaling they are “safe.” Men rarely ask and will usually reach for him despite my warning. “I’m good with dogs,” they say, ignoring me as they move their hands toward his face while he growls. Then he strikes like lightning, sinking his remaining sharp teeth into their unwelcome hands. I don’t correct or punish him for protecting himself. I do believe dogs sense things we don’t. I learned to trust Cookie and Pinto as much better judges of character. It sounds like Slinky was, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. underswansea

      Hi Carol, I enjoyed reading about Pinto and Cookie. Thanks for writing. I agree, dogs can really get a sense of a person in a hurry. I also put trust their instinct. Hope you are well. Take care. Bob

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mountaincoward

    I’m surprised he (luckily) managed to get his hand there in time! I got bit the other day by a dog before I knew it was going for me – it was that quick. Had to have a tetanus jab the next day just in case – damn thing’s still itching (the jab site not the bite)…


    1. underswansea

      Yep, that’s Slinky in the photo. She was a good judge of character always confirming my suspicions. 🙂 Those spuds should go in the ground if they are going to be ready for Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

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