When we moved to Florida, we gave our beagle, Eve, to a homeschool family who had a farm. Eve had mad escaping skills, and we never succeeded in finding the magic formula that would keep her in the yard. When she took off, she went straight to the pet supply store across the busy highway where they gave her treats. We decided that when we could afford to keep a dog, we would get another one.
Right off the bat, Lana, one of the women in the church we were attending, invited us to come see her puppies. I declined. I knew that looking at puppies nearly always leads to something. Puppies are engineered to suck you in. Someone who became a good friend, however, took the bait and brought home a small dog they named Ewok. He was cute and engaging, but I wasn’t buying.
Lana was crafty, though. One day I got a phone call from Ewok’s “mommy” inviting me to go with her, Ewok, Lana and her residual puppies. I was like, well, okay. The first thing that happened was that Lana announced that I needed a puppy to keep me company on the trip and she quickly put the puppy, whom she called Bubba Jr., into my car. He snuggled down beside me, and off we went to a park that had a lake in the middle and there were signs posted that said, “No dogs allowed.”
Everyone else pretty much ignored the signs, and I spent a lot of time looking at a house across the street that had tarp over the entire thing, pretending I didn’t see the signs either. We enjoyed our lunch, watched the ducks in the lake and looked for the alligator.
It seemed that Bubba Jr. was riding in my car on the way back as well. Then, I made my first mistake. I let him make eye contact, and he said, “I want to go home with you.” At that point, it was all over but the shouting.
Harry resisted, but he had promised our son another dog when we got to Florida. And it was a small dog and how much trouble can a little dog make? Right then. Several months later, he moved in with us.
Due to his propensity for climbing up on the back of the sofa to see what was going on outdoors, we named him Hannibal Oliver (all of our animal companions have two names). He was house trained already, and never had an accident unless he was sick. He raced around after me and grabbed the hem of my nightgown.
Though he began as Hannibal Oliver, his name has morphed over the years. He has been called (and answered to) Bob. I can’t tell you how that got started, but eventually all male persons in the house became Bob. I also can’t tell you how much it confused people. Later, as we were studying Asia in history, we read a book called Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze River. After awhile, Bob became Young Wu. And Wu he has been ever since.
Wu has always considered that his job has been to defend me. From the time he was a puppy right up through the present he goes after anyone or anything that he perceives as a threat to me, especially other dogs. One of our neighbors used to have three dogs. Three BIG dogs. Big dogs that had some of the same mad escape skills as Eve had. One night I took the dogs out into the yard right before bedtime. Without a leash, since we were staying in the yard. I happened to look up at the street and those three dogs were at the edge of our property.
I freaked out and ordered the dogs to get up the steps and into the house. Two of them obeyed. I turned around to get Wu in time to see him giving all three of those BIG dogs a lecture that they never forgot. Wu escorted them all the way home and waited for them to get themselves under the fence, then he returned home with a jaunty trot.
Wu turned 14 in June, and still takes his watch dog responsibilities seriously – if he sees or hears anything. We almost lost him a couple of years ago when he just stopped eating. Or he ate little and then barfed it up. I didn’t know what to do. A friend providentially suggested that I make dog food. I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect, but it was the only thing I had not yet tried. From the first bite of real food, Wu perked up. Within a few weeks he was strutting around like he used to do.
Update on March 17th, 2014 : This morning at 4:30 Wu woke me up and told me he loved me and said goodbye. He was last seen heading to The Rainbow Bridge. We will miss him more than I know how to say, but he gave us a lifetime of love and devotion. I think that some day we will meet again where there are no more partings.