He’s not the smartest dog we’ve ever had.
That was Harold, who could retrieve a specific toy, he could distinguish them and knew what we were saying. Harold, get the bee, and he got the bee, not the hamburger or the ball. We lost him two years ago.
No, Leo doesn’t retrieve. He does do some tricks like jump through a hula hoop and sort of fall over when we say, “bang bang,” but only if we have a treat in our hands at the time. So maybe he is the smart one.
When Harold was near the end of his life, I stopped into Pet Smart to pick up some food for him and our other dog Emma (she’s more my husband’s dog.)’ Harold kept loosing weight, though he ate anything he could find, including crayons. The pooper-scooper duty was more interesting for a while.
Cart full of large bags of surprisingly expensive dog food, I approached the registers, but was distracted by the dog lying in the temporary pen. You know the ones you try not to look at so that you are not tempted to adopt them. But there he was, about 25 pounds of black and brown sweetness. So calm and gentle. I squatted to see him and he leaned into the bars so that I could pet him. I don’t really understand how it happened. I think I was grieving Harold’s loss in advance. When I looked into Leo’s eyes, I felt a connection. I was compelled. We didn’t need three dogs! We already had one who was urinating in the basement daily, and it was a point of contention between me and my husband. Yet I managed to convince him to adopt Leo. “He’s so calm. He’s already grown up. He’ll be so easy.” I said.
When I brought Leo home two days later, he seemed calm enough, but he proved to be a challenging little beast. He was house broken, but that’s about it. We bought rawhide in Costco proportions to keep him from destroying things. We learned that we had to take him to the dog park for a full hour every day if we wanted to be able to live with him and sleep through the night. 45 minutes wouldn’t do it. And he was not always a good citizen at Hound Hill. I had to bring a spray bottle to get him to stop barking at other dogs.
A few months later, Harold died. He couldn’t hear anymore, so when I got up in the morning, he was still curled up in a bony ball and I would touch him to see if he was still alive. I wasn’t always sure whether I wanted him to be breathing still or not. I finally took him in to be euthanized. The cancer had spread and he was suffering. It was hard. I came home to Leo who rested his chin in my lap and comforted me as I wept.
Leo’s still pretty annoying. He still wakes us up almost every night. Gradually, though, we noticed we could skip a day at the dog park without losing our minds. Rawhide became a treat rather than a necessity. He sleeps pressed up against me every night, which probably affects my sleep. It’s worth it. And he made some progress in the dog training class, I think. I tell people that he’s not really dumb; he is just more in tune with his instincts.