Monday, January 25, 2010

La, La, La, I Can't Hear You...

While attending Southern Regional University, my sister acquired a black Lab-Chow mix who eventually ended up living in Smalltownland with our parents. His primary residence was our parents' laundry room. I used to say that he'd hide in the darkness and fulminate toward the side door like the Hound of the Baskervilles whenever anyone came to visit, emitting this resonant "WOOF!" It's a technique he developed early on, defending my sister's apartment from unscheduled, illegal visits by her landlord- their first encounter was unpleasant, since the man had a habit of letting himself into his tenants' apartments when he thought that they weren't home. Noonie came as somewhat of a shock, but it didn't happen again.

One of Noonie's favorite tricks was demonstrating his dislike of my sister's boyfriends. He was a big dog, tipping the scales at nearly a hundred pounds, but he could fold himself like a piece of origami. He'd climb up across the back of the sofa and drape his head and shoulders between Little Sister and her beau. If the gentleman in question moved closer than Noonie found acceptable, he'd turn and stare the young man squarely in the eye. Typically, they'd get scared and leave. One erstwhile swain bent over to scratch Noonie's belly and got sprayed in the face with an accuracy that baby boys would envy.

He also talked back. If he didn't want to hear what you had to say, he'd shake his head from side to side making a sound that I swear was "blah, blah, blah, blah, blah", the canine equivalent of "la, la, la, I can't hear you, la, la, la". Scolding him was pretty useless.

My family didn't have a video camera, so Noonie's best trick is lost to time and preserved only in memory. He liked to scratch his behind on the chain-link fence surrounding the back yard. He'd back up to the fencing, squat as low as possible, and then buck upward like a rodeo bronco. With each leap, he'd bark. He'd travel up and down the fence line until the itch abated.

Noonie lived to be around ten years old, defending the laundry room from all comers and protecting Ethel, our Cocker Spaniel/Papillon mix, who lived out there with him. We've had a lot of dogs in our family and loved every one of them, but he was probably blessed with the most unique intellect of the lot. I never worried about my sister or my parents when he was living either place. He was a good old dog.

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