Wednesday, September 07, 2005

dogs will be dogs

Phoebe’s dog dream came true; she finally caught and killed a squirrel. Sunday night she was unusually hyperactive and didn’t want to come into the house as she usually does. Midnight came and went and instead of curling up on the sofa and drifting into doggie sleep, she haunted the far corner of the back yard between the oak tree and the fence. Yesterday I found she’d been out there guarding her prize, a full-grown red squirrel, apparently killed by a forceful bite to the neck. I can’t say the squirrel didn’t deserve it; they sit out there and taunt Phoebe, almost daring her to try and catch them. I wonder if there’s an inborn enmity between dogs and squirrels. If you think of squirrels as rodents, which they are, it makes a little more sense. In the animal world dogs would be hunters and squirrels would be food.

We always wonder what kind of dog Phoebe might be. The baggy folds of skin around her neck, her color, her blue-spotted tongue and rough coat speak of possible Chow or Shar-Pei heritage. I thought some kind of Bull Terrier because of the broad forehead, thick neck, cat-like paws and her stare. If you’ve stared a Pit Bull in the face you know what I mean. And her neck and shoulders are incredibly strong for a dog her size. The long muzzle, upright ears and herding motions pointed to some kind of Shepherd in her genes. She looks a lot like a Finnish Spitz although the way her ribs show is indicative of a Greyhound or Whippet. Phoebe’s definitely a “mutt”, a “mongrel”, a “mélange” of Dog DNA. She’s a “yeller” dog, the color you get when you mix all the dog colors.

No one knows Phoebe’s past. I got her from a woman who spent much of her time and money rescuing dogs and finding homes for them. She found Phoebe wandering in her wooded Fort Worth neighborhood, nearly blind with eyes caked in gunk from entropion (inverted eyelids) and so skittish and frightened it took nearly an hour to catch her. This woman had Phoebe’s medical needs attended to and she now has “permanent eyeliner,” a dark scar lining the edge of each eye where the vet tucked the lower lids. She was about a year old and had obviously been abused. She would hide under the table when taken to adoption center and I probably wouldn’t have taken her had I known the extent of her neuroses. She’s been here about three years now and remains skittish, but she is a sweet dog and has never tried to bite anyone.

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