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I was raised in a cat family. (There were five kids and mom wisely didn’t want to add to her burden with a dog. Better off with a pet who is 100% indifferent). JY, on the other hand, always had a dog growing up.
When we bought our house in 1987, all my brothers and sisters pitched in and bought us a golden retriever puppy; we aptly named him Mack the Knife. He was dead five days – and 300 bucks – later from Parvo.
Finding ourselves dogless, JY went off to the Pasadena dog pound and picked out a black lab puppy. He picked him because he was sticking up for himself when another dog attempted … molestation. So Paladin joined our family about six months before son #1. He was a good dog; enjoyed a walk but wasn’t needy. He and son #1 spent a lot of time chasing each other around the backyard. By the time son #1 was in middle school, Paladin was old and arthritic and I think blind. Coaxing him into the house on a cold night became harder and harder.
JY came home early one day and took him to the vet. We had agreed that it wasn’t fair; he was worn out and in pain. We told the kids that we had found him passed away in his favorite little corner of the garage.
A few months later a teacher at school showed up with puppies. Son #1 was immediately taken with one in particular; I made him call his dad and ask if he could keep him. His exact words were “there’s a hole in my heart since Paladin died”. I was fine with indulging him; this was a kid who literally never asked for anything. He took Rascal to two or three sessions of puppy, then dog training.
By then I was suspicious of Rascal’s lineage (claimed to be a German Shephard/Lab mix). He looked nothing like his brothers and sisters and I was pretty sure there was some Chow in there. When I speak of the dog now I usually refer to his mother as a dog with very loose morals.
Anyway, no amount of training could get the demon out of him. He escaped at every opportunity. He dug. He ruined the garden. He jumped over the fence by climbing on daughter’s Little Tykes castle He destroyed daughter’s dolls. JY was traveling a lot then, and there was many a night I was out in the van looking for him. He ate the arm of my new couch, then destroyed the back seat of the van that was stored in the garage.
This went on for several years. By then even son #1’s support for the dog was wavering.
He got out one day and attacked a neighbor’s dog (her description) and by then we were worried. So on a rare Friday night when no kids were home – son #1 playing in a high school football game, daughter was at a sleepover, and sons 2 and 3 were at Scouts, JY came home and wrestled the dog into his fairly new Honda. His plan was to drop the dog off at the pound, then meet me at the football game.
JY eventually showed up at the game, looking a little haggard. He had tried to drop the dog off at the pound, but they refused to take him. Seems a boundary had changed (JY is way too honest; had they asked me what city I was from, my answer would have been: what city do I need to be from?) JY actually considered just abandoning the dog outside the pound, but threw him back in the car. On the way to the football game, all he could think was he was going to miss the damn game, because the damn dog couldn’t be trusted with damn upholstery.
As he was driving through surface streets, he heard a weird sound. The Demon Dog had managed to push the back window down. And he promptly jumped out of the car.
“What did you do?” I asked.
JY replied, “Hit the accelerator as fast as I could.”
We eventually met up back at home, and decided to go out to dinner (a rare event). As we drove down the street, JY was going maybe five miles an hour and his neck was on a swivel. “What the hell are you doing?” I asked. He replied, “I want to make sure I’m not lying when I tell the kids we looked for Rascal after he ran away.”
That story lasted for years. Until JY had a few drinks one night and let something slip. We’re still not sure what kid knows what.Published in