We’ve had many dogs over the years. Marc had them growing up, as did I, plus we’re married a REALLY long time (28 years) so we’ve had several dogs together and of course all the foster dogs over our LONG time together. Needless to say, we’ve come across a few dogs that have out-and-out quirks. Some are funny (to me anyway), some are gross (to everyone I’m guessing), and some are just plain weird. There are those that just drive you crazy (in my case it’s crazier) but no matter what quirk they have, it’s always something that I’ll remember specifically about each of them.
Emma. Our Basseagle girl. Yes, we came up with that breed because she was Basset/Beagle mix. Poor Emma had the body and ears of a Bassett and the head and legs of a Beagle. She looked like a Basset on stilts and boy she was quirky! Emma was fearful from the start. Noises that were sudden scared her; didn’t even have to be loud. Here’s an example for you. Soon after Emma came to be our girl, we took her to the park; paints a sweet picture right? It was, up to the point that a boy rode by on his bike and scared the crap out of her; literally. Right there, in the middle of the sidewalk, was an impressively large Emma turd. We quickly figured her fears out after that. We realized she just wasn’t social and had no desire to be. She didn’t like anyone other than the four of us. She was very independent, like a cat. She’d let you know when you were allowed to pet her and when she was done with you. She spent most of her time in our bed on Marc’s pillow, which was unfortunate for him because Emma’s biggest quirk was that she was a licker. Now when I say licker, I’m not talking about cleaning her paws or belly. I’m saying she was obsessively meticulous about cleaning her Va-jj. Yes we had her checked to make sure she didn’t have a personal issue with her lady bit. She didn’t. Most likely because she kept it so clean! It was rare to go in our room and not see Emma in what looked like a strenuous yoga position, licking. What was not rare was the large wet spot she’d leave on Marc’s pillow. Oh the grossness! The worst part was not knowing if that was from her licking or if it was leakage from, oh never mind I can’t say it. Anyway, we tried everything. Obviously the first two things coincided; get her off the bed and stop her licking. Neither worked and she was such a true stress case that we didn’t want to force her out of our room because that was her comfort zone. So we tried putting towels down but her “fluids” went through if we didn’t remember to change the towels during the day. We took the pillows off the bed and put towels down, same deal; we put a blanket where she’d lay, nope that didn’t work either. That girl was nonstop with the licking. Finally, a few towels folded just right and covering a bigger area fixed the wet spot issue. I think the phrase you’re looking for here is “OMG THAT’S DISGUSTING.” No argument on that from me.
Hayden. Hayden, Hayden, Hayden. His quirk? O.C.D., really. He was our daughter’s Golden Retriever and likely the most intelligent dog to ever enter our lives (so glad the others can’t read!). At the time of Hayden’s arrival my older brother was big into retrieving type competitions with his Lab (I didn’t even know there was such a thing) and his dog was amazingly talented and successful. Alex decided she wanted to train Hayden, on a much lighter and more fun scale, to retrieve the dummy bumpers used in those competitions. She worked with him a lot and he became amazing with hand signals, commands, and retrieving the bumper. He was always so proud when he’d bring it back. I was proud of Alex for teaching him so well and diligently and proud of Hayden for being so damn smart. That didn’t last too long. Why you ask? Because who knew that dogs could have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Yes, it’s a legit K9 diagnosis and Hayden was the poster child for it. Please understand, I didn’t have an issue with his retrieving skills or that he liked to chase his tennis balls. That part was fun. There were always two issues though when playing ball with him. One, he never wanted to stop and two, he wouldn’t give you the damn ball. He had to set it down on the table rather than you taking it from him. So the biggest problem was when I (or anyone) wanted to be done throwing the ball. For the first thirty times it was about making him happy because he so loved to do it. After that it became tiring and pretty disgusting. A side note here is that Hayden liked dropping the ball in his water while he got a drink and mixing the water with the enormous amount of spit in his mouth from running, made the ball slimy and then he’d drop it in the dirt and it was pure nastiness. Anyway, he never wanted to stop playing; hence the O.C.D. When you told him “no” or “we’re done” he’d put the ball on the patio table as if to answer, “Uh, no.” If it wasn’t close enough to you he’d push it with his nose. If you didn’t take it or ignored him he’d grab it back and start over. If that didn’t work he’d take it out to the grass, roll on the ball, then bring it back for another round of table tennis so-to-speak. If that didn’t work he’d bring the ball to the nearest lap, set it down and quickly put his paw on it. If you tried to take the ball from under his paw he’d push it down harder. Remember, he needed to be in control of the ball delivery-you didn’t take it from him. He lived to the age of twelve and that boy never slowed down, never stopped wanting to play ball relentlessly, and never stopped bugging us to play too. Hayden was our absolutely amazing O.C.D. boy.
Blaze is our son’s 9 year-old Chocolate Lab. Blaze is very quirky but all based around his nervousness. We’ve had him since he’s 9 weeks old and if anyone besides family saw how skittish he is they would not believe he’s never had a hand raised to him. He is so anxious and jumpy. I’m saying to the point that we’ve had bloodwork done several times over the years to make sure there isn’t some underlying cause behind it but nope, he’s just a bit quirky. I need you to understand that I don’t mean he runs away from people or he hides like Emma did. He’s every bit as part of the pack as each of the other dogs; he’s just different. For instance, our dogs do not move unless there’s food or an imaginary noise involved so you can literally step over them and it doesn’t faze them a bit; except for Blaze. We literally have to warn people not to step over him because he senses it and jumps up just in time to knock you off balance or on the floor. You only do that once though-lesson learned. My brother actually asked me once, “Isn’t there one of them that you can’t step over or something?” Yea, it happened to him too. Back to Blaze. Years ago we realized he would really slow down his eating when he got to the last of his food. He’d take forever to finish the last five or six bites. We checked his teeth, throat, and gums. He was fine. We couldn’t figure out if we were feeding him too much and he was full or what the heck was going on. I was watching him one day and as he got to the slow down point his bowl slid about 1/100th of a centimeter on the tile and he jumped back. I mean he didn’t duck and run so that was good but it definitely startled him. He was afraid of the noise. So afraid, that he started leaving food in the bowl, which we’d then take out of the bowl and put on the floor and he’d eat it right up. Never would I have imagined that a very food motivated dog would allow a tiny little scratching noise stop him from getting all his food. Blaze now has a special non-skid bowl. He talks the word special to a whole new level at times. Blaze is also very afraid of what he must consider weird noises, no matter how many times he’s heard that same noise. Plastic bags are a perfect example. We’re a family, we shop at stores, we throw out garbage; bags are involved. For Blaze though, it’s as if every bag is something he’s never seen before. If you shake the trash bag before putting it in the garbage can, he ducks like something just fell on his head. If something goes over his head, like a shadow, he ducks to the ground. If you turn too quickly towards him he cowers down. If he’s near the refrigerator when the door gets opened he acts like its being thrown at him. He ducks as deeply into the tile as he can. It’s weird! If he’s sleeping and you make a loud noise like say, dropping a pencil on the floor within fifty feet of him he will jump up like a Roman candle was lit in his butt! I feel a bit bad about sharing this but it needs to be said, Blaze scares himself with his own farts. That says it all. I have watched him jump up and then off the sofa due to the noise of his own fart. It’s damn funny but very odd. He scares us at times because of his reaction when we scared him! If there is an actual loud noise forget it. He turns into a ducking, running, tail between his legs, crazed and nervous boy. It’s sad really. I feel terrible for him and we’re all very aware of his um, quirks, so we try to warn him and just not use bags or do things like breath and stuff around him.
Benson and Jax. Both big dogs, both over 170 pounds, both with the same quirk. “Leaning.” If you’ve ever owned one of the Gentle Giant breeds then you already know exactly what leaning means with them. If not, it can be difficult to imagine the intensity and potential damage involved with a lean. For whatever reason big dogs like to lean on you. I don’t know if it’s comfort to take a little weight off them, security because they know you’re there, or karma because you wanted big dogs. I’m thinking it’s a mixture of all of those. No matter what the reason is, you absolutely have to be ready for their leaning. If you’re unprepared and a 205 pound dog leans fully against your legs you will immediately understand the concept of gravity as your ass hits the floor or you’re slammed into the counter or you stumble back while looking for anything to grab on to so you don’t have to admit that your dog just hip checked you to the floor. Probably the best lean in the K9 world is the absolutely worst in the human world. I call it the GOTCH YA lean. That’s when your ginormous dog is behind you and starts to gently lean. You instantly tense because you know what’s about to happen since he was nice enough to give you a little warning. Careful though, that gentleness is exactly how he suckers you in. It’s as if he’s saying, “I’m not going to lean on you, I just want to know you’re here.” Tip: that’s crap! This soft lean is sweet and you immediately allow the leg tension to dissipate just in time for him to say GOTCH YA. It’s at that point that a regular lean occurs and your knees have just buckled and once again gravity takes over. There’s a reason this is called getting a dead-leg. You’re helpless. You instantly look like Geppetto was controlling your legs with strings but he just went to lunch. You know you’re heading forward, you feel like it’s happening in slow motion but still you can’t recover. You can’t stop the puppet action of your limbs. There is hope here though because no matter what is directly in front of you, it’s going to break your fall. Unfortunately, it’s almost always whatever foundation your feet were on prior to the sneak attack. There’s nothing like the instant slam of knees to tile or concrete to really get your bones jolted.
I joke about the quirks just the few dogs I mentioned have because they can be pretty funny. I could go on and on about the many we’ve loved and lost and each one really does make me smile. Truly, the bottom line is we make adjustments for their quirks. We don’t get mad and yell when we get hurt accidentally by them. Well, I may get mad but I try not to yell. We don’t love them any less because they have some weirdness to them. I mean, I have to remember glass house, stones, that whole thing. Not that I have quirks; but if I did. In reality, their quirkiness makes them unique and as I said, it’s something I will always remember and yes, love, about each one of them.