Goodness

Inspirational stories that will motivate You to be good

Dog Story

IN MUCH BETTER TIMES than these, I had a big dog named Lee Roy. He was a boarding-kennel accident, half purebred Rottweiler, half purebred Golden Retriever, but he looked very much like a purebred Rotty with a long powerful tail. I got him when he was seven weeks old, a rowdy pup nobody else wanted, and from the very beginning he was a genuine character who in the too-short 13 years of his life generated enough anecdotes to fill an entire book. One of the ways he often delighted me and some of my closest friends as well was by playing what we all eventually understood to have been dog jokes jokes that were all the more astonishing for the fact they were obviously carefully thought out.

There were three humans living on this land in its two houses then, just as there are today, but the psychodynamics were very different, because the other occupants were near soul-mates completely unlike the hostile kinfolk who live here now. The bigger house was then occupied by the people who are my two best friends in the entire world, a man named Jim and his wife Mary, and I was in the smaller house as I am today. Between us we had six dogs, three apiece, and Lee Roy was the leader of the entire canine pack.

Lee Roy first played what we took to be his most favorite dog joke one day in 1995 when Mary drove into town for groceries.

Because this is a rural area and the store is ten miles distant and we all practiced fuel economy even when gasoline was relatively cheap, we would almost invariably check with each other before shopping (Iím going to the super market; do you need anything?), and more often than not the answer was yes. It was August and clear and hot, and on this particular day I was stacking firewood both houses here are heated by wood and we burned ten to 12 cords a winter and Mary walked back to the woodshed to tell me she was going to the grocery store, and I said I needed a gallon of skim milk, and if they were still on sale, a couple of bags of those Tostados, which are un-flavored tortilla chips that go very well with tuna salad and other such summertime dishes.

Lee Roy and some of the other dogs had been keeping me company while I was stacking wood, but the others had gone off to hunt feral cats, and a little while ago Lee Roy had carefully even meticulously chosen a chew-stick by sniffing the entire unstacked four-cord pile dumped from our wood manís truck. I had seen Lee Roy do this enough times to know he was looking for a length of cedar Pacific Northwest dogs love to chew cedar just as Southern dogs love hickory sticks and sassafras poles and soon of course he found what he wanted and carried it to a shady spot just out of my way and after a suitable interval of contemplating his treasure, he began to gnaw it. But now as Mary and I talked he stopped chewing and looked up and appeared to listen intently.

An hour later Mary returned with the groceries, and Lee Roy met her at the gate to the property. While Mary was unloading her own purchases from the back of her pickup truck, Lee Roy jumped up into the truck bed, peered into each of at least a half-dozen sacks until he found the two bags of Tostados, then snatched both bags and took off on a dead run toward the woodshed, about 100 yards away from the driveway where Mary had parked. I had gone into the barn, which is adjacent the woodshed, to get a hammer and nails to repair one of the firewood cradles, and as I stepped out into the sunlight again, there was Lee Roy rattling the Tostados bags as if to make sure I saw them the bags dangling from his mouth, one on each side of his massive head. Then he ran full tilt to my house, laid the bags on the doorstep, and came prancing back all tail-wag and satisfaction and proud wolfen grin.

I was of course enormously impressed and hugely perplexed as well how in the world could he have done that? but I soon dismissed it as some sort of inexplicable coincidence and went back to stacking wood. But a few weeks later he did exactly the same thing with a head of celery, and not long after that, with two packages of pork chops and no, he didnít eat the meat until I cooked it and offered him some. That sort of product-recognition thing became so commonplace, Mary and Jim and I sometimes joked that Lee Roy was obviously a dog who could understand English better than some humans and probably read it better as well.

What follows is a report that suggests Lee Roy might not have been joking at all. The research is summarized here. After you read it you'll probably understand why now I think LeeRoy had maybe picked up on the fact we three humans are uncannily attuned to canines and was just trying to share with us that much more of himself. That we took it as a joke rather than a serious attempt at communication says volumes about why no one has yet responded to our attempts to communicate with other worlds.