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By: Michael LaRocca - Copyright 2004

Like almost all my pet stories, this is an excerpt from:
An American Redneck In Hong Kong
Published in 2001, which actually contains very little about Hong Kong. It's mostly cat and dog stories. The site contains three free chapters.

November 2004


One weekend, Lisa and I visited the Humane Society. We looked at their dogs, and had pretty much settled on a beautiful tan mutt, a girl named Rocky. We wanted a girl, in theory less likely to stray.

Then we went to the county pound. A bad place with a bad reputation, and a seemingly endless string of black mutts. We were trying to avoid black, just because every dog we'd ever owned before was black and we hated to be predictable. But there was this young black pup, with one white paw and a thin white streak on her small chest, looking quite pathetic and quite irresistible. Lisa chose her instead of Rocky, and I agreed.

Lisa put the leash on this dog, and the dog immediately hugged the floor. She wasn't budging. Lisa could NOT pull her out of the pen. Finally I took the leash, being a bit stronger. The dog leaped to her feet and trotted happily ahead of me as if I'd owned her all my life. No doubt about it... this was my dog.

This dog, who we named Daisy, came to us with quite a few problems. She was a four-month old stray, a street urchin who'd been picked up by a dogcatcher. She was two weeks past her scheduled execution, but again, this place had a reputation at the time for incompetence.

Daisy slept during the day and ate at night. It's much safer that way when one is a homeless little puppy. She grabbed a mouthful of food from her bowl, ran into a corner to eat it, then returned for the next bite. Another trick of street survival - don't linger around the food or someone bigger will come kick your butt.

I don't even want to talk about housebreaking. Daisy seemed untrainable. Lisa thought she was stupid. She wanted to return her for a refund. But I saw that there were two sides to Daisy. Part of her was very bad, a paranoid stray without a clue. But I also saw a smart, eager-to-please dog whose mistakes were more the result of fear and confusion than anything.

Daisy was treated to the softest disciplinary touch I'll ever use on an animal. I learned quite a bit about animals from her. Meanwhile, she learned about people. Namely, that we aren't all bad.

Eventually, though she hated to do it, Lisa had to admit that I was right. Daisy turned into an awesome dog.

Daisy always had a few minor problems. Whenever we visited Daddy, he would glare at her and yell, and she'd pee on the porch. Every time. Then he'd laugh his head off and she'd run up to him wagging her tail and cuddling against him.

Loud noises scared Daisy. They scare most dogs, probably, but not to the extent of Daisy. Thunderstorms were utterly terrifying. When she was very young, they scared her into peeing on my lap. In later years, she simply cowered there. I suspect that she was shot at in her homeless days.

One character trait that I never saw fit to cure was Daisy's fear of the highway. She had been a city dog, a stray, and she knew all about cars. I owned her for many years, and eventually gave her to Daddy. This is a dog who will never get run over.

One day I drove my truck to the feed store to buy some hay for Lisa's horse. As always, Daisy rode up front. My version of Driving Miss Daisy. As far as I knew, Daisy was a mutt, which happens to be my favorite. But the man who loaded the hay swore Daisy was at least part border collie. He bred border collies, and he just knew that's what she was.

I'd never heard of a border collie. So I went to a library and looked them up. Daisy has a lot more black than the usual border collie, but dang if that fella wasn't right. It was obvious, even before she started herding. That comes later, along with the bit about a dachshund who herded cows.

Lisa found a new job, which meant leaving young Daisy in the house alone. She chewed the furniture and had many "accidents" on the carpet. I tried buying her other things to chew, but this was before she grew into what she became. In short, it was a lost cause. Daisy could not be trusted in the house alone.

I spent the weekend building a rather large dog lot. Daddy gave me the posts. As we unloaded the truck, I kept yelling at Daisy to stay away or she'd get hurt. But she was young and stupid back then. Perhaps I should've put her in the house, but I underestimated her stupidity. Forgive me, Daisy. I never claimed to be very bright myself.

I threw a post from the back of the truck, and she ran under it. I heard a POW and a horrible whine, and then my dear sweet doggie was running like heck and screaming in pain. It looked to me like I'd hit her on the head, so I ran after her to check. When I finally met her on the porch, she laid her head in my lap and cried.

I saw no physical damage, but I had one very terrified and hurting dog. I hugged her and rubbed her for a while, then finally got back to work. That night she slept with me as always, but cuddled very tightly, knowing I'd protected her from the big bad monster that had hit her. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I was the monster.

The next day, Lisa noticed that Daisy's nose was swollen. Mildly, no vet required, but ever since that day, Daisy has snored. She still has a small bump on her nose, but you have to look for it to notice it. That was my fault.

The dog lot was complete, and I left Daisy inside it on Monday morning. I prefer leaving dogs in the house - they can't protect it from inside a fence - but I had no choice. When I got home from work, I found Daisy waiting on the porch, smiling and wagging her tail.

I repaired the fence where she'd slipped under. Tuesday morning, I left her inside the dog lot. When I returned home from work, Daisy was waiting on the porch, smiling and wagging her tail. I saw where she'd slipped under the fence, and I tightened it there as well.

Wednesday and Thursday brought repeat performances. At least I was confident she'd never go in the road. Surely she'd have done so already. I was also quite proud of her intelligence and her confidence. But still, I repaired the fence.

Friday saw a new wrinkle. Daisy couldn't find a loose spot in the fence, so she simply dug her way under it. During the weekend, I got some more fence wire and cut it into two-foot-wide strips. Then I laid those strips along the ground, buried them, and attached them to the fence.

Now, if Daisy wanted to dig her way out, she would have to dig straight down, then tunnel those two feet, then dig her way back up. That kept her safely within the dog lot until she found an accomplice.

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