Friday, September 7, 2012

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Newby

Many moons ago we lived in a small home in Idaho. Packed into this diminutive residence was my pregnant self, my hubby Buns, and our two elementary school age sons. Having taken up residence in the basement of said house were both of my early twenty-something, video-game playing, pizza inhaling, younger brothers. 

Along with this large contingency of people we also had a litany of animals that one or the other of us had brought in from the lone and dreary world in an effort to save. There were a couple of birds, a lizard or two, some unnamed rodents, various fish, as well as two farm cats.

The house was so full of people and animals that I began to call it “the Ark” since it seemed to me to be a pretty good representation of what Noah’s wife must have had to put up with in regards to space and sometimes smell. The Ark was crowded but generally a happy place and life was going along a in a fairly uneventful manner.

Dog Silhouette Clip ArtThen, quite unexpectedly, our next door neighbors packed all their belongings into a moving truck and left town. (I wonder now if it was to get away from the lunatics next door.) Left on their front porch was an adolescent black lab with soft chocolate eyes. After waiting for a few hours the dog realized that they weren’t just circling the block and so he decided to make his way to our back porch.

I’m not sure why he came to us but I suspect that word was out among the neighborhood pets about the people in the little orange house on the corner. The fact was that they were a bunch of suckers and you could get a free meal and scratch behind the ears there any time you wanted.

Of course when he was found on the doorstep the residents of the Ark, with the exception of the cranky pregnant one, gave a shout of joy and immediately adopted the little vagabond. In a lavish ceremony he was given the name of Anubis.We were on an Egyptian mythology kick at the time. By the way, the original Anubis was lord of the underworld and as cool a name as it sounded like I should have taken notice someone might be sending me a message.

Soon Anubis was shortened to Newby and he quickly became a beloved member of the family.

How I wish that I could end this charming tale now with a “and they lived happily ever after” but such was not the case. This is real life let’s remember and somehow those happily ever afters are not what fate ever has in store for us. Instead here is the hard cold truth.

Brace yourself.

It became immediately apparent that Newby was not your average dog. He had some personal habits that sent up red flags about his mental state and caused one to wonder if he had possibly escaped from a detention center for the gastricly impaired criminally insane instead of the neighbor's yard.

First was his all out love for rocks. Rocks were his favorite thing in the entire world. He carried them around, wanted you to play fetch with them, snuggled up with the larger versions, and on a regular basis ate them.

Yes, you heard me right, he ate them.

I became aware of this when one night I had taken him out into the yard to do his business. As he completed the task I kept hearing a strange clinking sound. It only seemed to happen as he squatted down. I thought “what in the world is that noise?” After about the fourth deposit it finally dawned on me. He was passing rocks and they were hitting each other as they landed.

He also had an unnatural affection for a tube sock that the boys used to play tug-o-war with him. He enjoyed the game so much that he decided the sock should become a permanent part of his make-up and so he ate it. The sock’s reappearance several days later caused him much concern. He sniffed it cautiously and with a look on his face as if he were asking why it wouldn’t stay where he put it, he decided to eat it again. Ack!

Socks Clip ArtOnce again the sock made a re-appearance a couple of days later and by the time I had realized what had happened he had downed it a third time. This cycle may have gone on indefinitely if it hadn’t been for my sweet mother. She was visiting one day and while out in the yard playing with the boys she walked over and asked “why is this dirty old sock just laying here in the yard?” She deftly reached down, picked it up, and took it to the trash can.

The boys then rather hysterically then told her just what she had been holding in her hand and after some high pitched screaming mixed with dry retching she raced into the house to wash with disinfectant. She didn’t come over again for a while. I can’t imagine why.

 Volcano Clip Art
We had two recliners in the living room that were prime real estate for watching T.V. Directly behind them was Newby’s favorite napping spot. While he slept the effect of the rocks and socks on his digestive system would begin to manifest themselves. Noxious gas eruptions that would rival Krakatoa in scope and aroma would begin to emanate from the back portions of his anatomy.

This action would catapult the villagers out of the recliners and send them running for the exits all while gagging uncontrollably. The noise would finally disturb sleeping beauty and he would groggily raise his head and look around for whoever was disturbing his siesta. He would soon discover it was his own back end and then look at it like it was some alien being he had never seen before.

On top of all the gastric nonsense he had a deep seated hatred for exactly three things. Postmen, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Women. Yes, our dog was a confirmed misogynist. This worked out well for everyone in the Ark except your truly who happened to be of the female persuasion. For all the boys, including the four-year-old, he was perfectly behaved. I on the other hand was viewed as a lower life form. For me he wouldn't mind, ran away every chance he got, snapped at me when I would try to take him out, and tried to run me down out in the yard. As for the other two groups I mentioned, look out. He acted as if they were a threat to the survival of his species on the planet and he was going to do everything possible to eradicate them.

This all kept up until I finally had my fill. With a new baby girl on the way, I knew it was not going to be a safe circumstance for her to come home to. I then had to do one of the worst things a mom can do. I decided to get rid of the dog.

Let's just say between the puppy dog eyes and the tears, and that was just from my brothers, it was a miserable experience. Happily I found him a nice home out in the country (and no that's not code for the pound) where he could be as gassy as he wanted and nary a woman or JW was to be found. Still, on the scale of mean mom things I never thought I would do, that one tops the list.

That was long ago and since then our family has grown in children and seen brothers move out. Much later we adopted another black lab named Zoe. Thankfully the traits that Newby showed are not genetically inherent in all of that breed. Zoe is a protector, a nanny, a playmate, a best friend, and an important member of our family.

Looking back I'm not sure what I would have done differently with Newby. Hopefully we learned as a family that before taking in strays we had better make sure that we could do it safely and well. It's easy to jump into things with your heart and ignore your head. It seems that is one of the real challenges in life, to do your best to help the downtrodden and abandoned but judge when that means bringing them into your home or maybe sending them on to other resources.

Anyway, Newby contentedly ate rocks the rest of his days in a place that made him happy. And I never had to see a three-times eaten sock again.



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