On and off throughout my life, American Eskimo dogs (Spitz), hereafter referred to in my family as “Doogles”, have wandered into and out of my existence. My first experience with the breed came through my grandmother. When I first met Ginger, she said to me “Be careful, she can be snippy.” We immediately became fast friends and she would flop in my lap whenever I sat on the floor. I believe I was somewhere around six at the time.
Many years and a few dogs passed and much later, when my wife and I were on vacation in Canada, we got the news that we had “adopted” a dog from down the road from some folks who were moving into a retirement home. That dog found its way to our doorstep via my son Justin. From nearly two thousand miles away I had the most vivid mental images of my hands closing around his scrawny neck tightly enough to choke the breath from his body and make his eyes pop out of his head. We had already had ample experience with his bringing vermin to our home with unfulfilled promises of “I’ll take care of it/him/her/them/etc.” Invariably, my wife bore the burden of the pet maintenance while cursing the fauna de Jure fell to me.
When we returned from our trip and made it home again, I was mentally well steeled to the task of evicting the infiltrating pooch and illuminating my son (again) as to the error of his ways. We opened the front door and there was my Mother-in-Law (bless her heart) stretched out on the sofa with a white, fluffy, Eski draped across her shoulder! Not only was she wearing the dog, she was wearing a huge smile!
You must now be made aware that she was of a generation where dogs were kept as mousers, protectors of chickens, hunting dogs or garbage disposals but not things to be allowed onto the furniture or cuddled and here she was cuddling this dog. I was floored. First by Mema’s behavior and then that Justin had somehow acquired an AKC animal that I thought was beautiful. While Justin did eventually get his due chastisement for dragging home yet another stray, he was given dispensation in that his find was of the highest quality. That Eski became known as Maxx.
Maxx lived with us for almost eighteen years. During that time his name morphed into Maxx Doogle and eventually the exclamation “Look, there’s a Doogle!” became code for “Look, there’s an American Eskimo!” So it has remained until this very day. When Maxx left us, both my wife and I thought we were going to die of broken hearts. It took over a year before the subject of bringing another dog into our home could be broached without my bursting into tears. I know, big, tough, 240 pounds of stodgy, curmudgeon Opa… but it is the truth.
My wife found a rescue Doogle on the internet and after a trial week or two, he decided he would stay. His name is Bentley but sad to say, the damage has been done. I call him Doogle just like Maxx. He has been with us now for about four years and still sometimes when in the heat of battle (you know, tripping over the dog while in the kitchen) I still call him Maxx. It’s OK. This Doogle doesn’t respond to anything but food anyway so I don’t think his feelings are hurt too badly.
One thing about the Doogles I have known is their sensitive digestion. If you start feeding them strange things with odd flavours of extra fat they have a nasty habit of barfing or otherwise having accidents on the floor. Bentley is very good about asking to be let out and we have a little routine that comes every day at about five thirty AM. If I’m not out of bed, he will put his feet on the side of the bed and stare at me until I comply with his wishes (Why you aren’t up yet, Daddy?). Then, throughout the day, at regular intervals, we go through a similar routine until bedtime. If there is even the slightest deviation, I get the call at all odd hours of the night wherein I must stand guard by the back door, in the pitch dark, sometimes freezing to give him re-entry to the house.
It was not too many days ago that I began getting Bentley’s call of nature at all kinds of strange, unpredictable hours. I would dutifully drag out of the sack (I don’t mind telling you a particularly warm. soft, comfy sack.), let the mutt out and then stand by while his business was completed and then fall back into bed.
In the morning, I would query the other members of the household as to their guilt in the matter of recreational feeding of the hound and without exception, all were innocent….INNOCENT! In particular, my son was INNOCENT!
Then, this week my son spent a few days in town without returning home. A day or two after he had gone to town Gail and I went to the Costco and of course bought a boat load of goodies including two of their rotisserie chickens. We came home, unloaded the goodies and had the chicken for dinner. As usual, Bentley had his “fair share” (Sounds like a tax deal, doesn’t it?) while my wife and I were eating. Another fact I must point out about the Doogle breed: They would sell their mothers for chicken, let the burglars clean out your home for chicken and possibly sacrifice a foot or two or even a tail just for a taste of chicken.
The following is an absolutely accurate (painfully so... for some) recounting of the following events.
Gail and I had finished our dinner and set the plates aside. The aforementioned dog, (You know, the one who quivers with a “chicken rush” when given odd bits of roasted skin.) trots (he only moves at a pace above “stroll” when properly motivated) trots between my wife and I, sniffing the air for molecules of chicken and finding none, whirls about on his heels and proceeds at the previously mentioned rate of travel down the hall and into Justin’s vacant room. When I followed him into Justin’s lair, I found the Doogle sitting at attention and staring intently at Justin’s empty chair.
Now I ask why the Doogle would go searching for morsels of chicken in an area of the house where he had supposedly never been previously successful.
The only conclusion that my feeble logic can conjure is that the “innocent” perhaps are not so innocent.
My mother was famous for saying “One lies and the other swears to it.” when searching for the truth amongst us boys. Apparently the dog and my son have the same sort of pact…at least when it comes to food. In all honesty I can’t be too critical of the boy because the dog is pretty cute. It’s just that I am the one who gets woken up at 2 AM.