Our beloved dog, Mae, died. She was the kid’s first dog and she had been a faithful companion. We missed her terribly.
After a short mourning period, we went to a shelter – “just to look”. In case you don’t know, I think it is just about impossible to go to a shelter “to just look”. We were looking at one dog but it became evident that, while adorable, that dog was going to be a bit more than we were ready to handle.
Then, like we were making a drug deal, one of the workers whispered “I have the dog for you.” How could we refuse? We checked him out and he seemed wonderful. He had only been at the shelter for a day or two.
In our moment of blind love, it seems that we had picked the dog with the longest and thickest hair at the shelter. Little did I know what life would be like with this dog in the house.
We named him Kirby. We named him after the brand of vacuum that we had at the time.
With this dog, I have to vacuum and vacuum often. While he does lose individual hairs, he mostly loses clumps of hair. Did I tell you that he all that he is black? When you look around my house, you can see clumps of hair – it looks like Barbie doll heads of hair tumbling through the place. I really didn’t know that it could be like this. I think that when he goes to doggie heaven (Chocolate and Milk Bone Way) I will be cleaning up dog hair for the next ten years. I have found dog hair in the ice cube trays. Really, how did it get there?
There is no way to brush this dog in the house – the amount of hair that he can shed would cover the floor and furniture in no time. You know, sitting on a dog hair covered sofa isn’t like sitting on a mink blanket. We did buy a dog brush that hooks up to the vacuum. It does contain some of the hair but there is still a massive vacuuming session when we use it.
When we adopted him, we were his third home in three years. Gee, others had returned him when they caught on to his hair loss. Okay, there may have been a couple other issues.
He had obviously had some problems with prior owners. While most dogs don’t mind being put into a crate, he was NOT doing that. He also had an aversion to teenage girls. Not all the time, just sometimes. Yes, at the time we had a teenage girl.
He was also a counter surfer. This was not anything we had encountered before. He got several pounds of butter, some chocolate miniatures, and about a dozen chocolate chip cookies before he trained us. But, please note that I said he was a counter surfer. This behavior disappeared after a couple of months. We didn’t really do anything, I think he finally felt safe and believed that we would feed him.
He is, unquestionably, a guard dog. He has decided that his role is to guard the house and to guard me. He is a bit nicer when he is guarding me. He will let my husband kiss me when he comes home but only after Kirby runs interference by standing in-between us. As he has aged, he spends more time close to me. As I write this, he is alternating sleeping and staring at me.
Kirby got out of the yard once. My husband had that feeling of panic. He had no idea where to look for him. He walked to the front of the house and started looking around. He found him – sitting on the front porch. Kirby has defined his territory and he is keeping to it. He is here to protect this house and he is not budging from his post.
His guarding of the house has its high points and has led to a couple of problems. I do think he would scare away anyone who tried to get in the house. He sounds fierce. He growls, he barks, and generally gives off the impression that he would like nothing better than to attack.
The problem is that occasionally we like to take vacations. We can’t get anyone to take care of him when we want to go away. We have tried having our friends or our friend’s kids come over to let him out and feed him. No way. He has scared off every one of them. The only brave soul is our neighbor. Our neighbor has fed Kirby milk bone treats over the fence for years. This has not made a difference to Kirby. Luckily, Tim is a very patient guy and he just waits and Kirby will finally concede that he does need to go out.
This behavior is not limited to someone coming in while we are gone. He will greet people enthusiastically when we are here. If we leave and the person stays, he will sit by the front door and glare and growl. In case you were wondering, workmen love that. Nothing suits them better than to work in a house where the dog suddenly acts like he will eat them.
We realized the other day that Kirby is now 14 years old. That is pretty old for a dog of his size. His muzzle is white now. His back legs seem to slide out from underneath him sometimes. He has the occasional seizure. We swear that we will not replace him when he goes to Chocolate and Milk Bone Way.
We could always “just go look” at the shelter.