Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dirty Harry

Not too long ago, the kids and I drove an hour to a neighboring county to visit the dog pound. When we got there, we found a relatively young chocolate Labrador retriever who had been picked up as a stray. He was skinny, dirty, flea-infested, balding, and smelled incredibly awful. However, he jumped on the door of his kennel to greet us and wagged. I asked if we could take the dog outside. He was gentle, and he allowed me to handle him all over without making a fuss, but he had no manners and had a preoccupied air about him, much like someone who had misplaced his income tax papers on April 14.

We decided to bring him home.

Since he was a chocolate Lab, we named him Harry London, after the candy company.

However, this dog smelled so bad that we ended up calling him Dirty Harry.

Shortly, I realized that having Harry here is like having Clint Eastwood for a roommate. Like Mr. Eastwood, he is bigger than he seems, more gentle than we expect, and has an unexpectedly quirky sense of humor. I had ordered some dog toys, and this morning Harry opened the box, took out a rubber Kong, and proceeded to pounce on it for an hour or two. He is also much more intelligent than we would first judge him to be. Our female lab, Penny, was outside by herself earlier today, and she started barking at our neighbor’s cats. Harry walked up to me and barked to be let outside; normally, he would walk over to the door and wait, but I was in the other room, and if he had barked at the door, I would have scolded him. And like his cop namesake, Dirty Harry, our Harry won’t start something, but he sure will finish it.

However, our Harry has separation anxiety. We would leave a radio on, give him treats, and sneak out of the house, but he would bark anyway. He tried digging his way out of his dog crate, so we went out and got a replacement. One afternoon we came home to find that Harry had pried off the thick wires running down the sides of the new crate, leaving the cross wires intact.

We, stupidly, figured that would hold him. The next evening, the kids and I came home from the nursing home to be greeted at the door by an ecstatic Harry. He had busted out again, obviously squeezing himself through a six inch square opening which he had previously opened. Consequently, the dog crate has been relinquished to the basement, and Harry has the run of the house. I think we may change his name to Harry Houdini.

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