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.