Two geezers acting un-geezer-like
Eight weeks ago, I was standing in the Dog Park at the old Charlestown Naval Air Base, and was pondering what to do to help our new charge, Maddox, also known as “Mad Dog,” burn up some of his unbridled, Cairn terrier energy. Yup, I felt pretty stupid standing there with arms akimbo and looking vacuously at this wild, raucous, and tough little character. At the empty park I watched as Maddox scoped the perimeter to read the room. As I also scoped out the park, I noticed a slimed-up tennis ball, and I finger-tipped it up to clean it as Maddox came back over to where his, ahem, master, stood. Then, for the hell of it I chucked the ball. Suddenly, Maddox spun, and he went tearing after it. He snatched his prey, and with a stylish flourish of a wide arc, the tenacious little heller came tearing back toward me. And, he dropped the ball! I was gobsmacked! I hooted, I yahooed! I praised! A terrier chasing and retrieving a ball? No way.
We’ve had three Scottish highland terriers: Mac, MacTavish, and Tuppence, and none of them ever retrieved anything. Terriers are the most aloof canines on the planet. Maddox continued to chase and retrieve the slimed-up tennis ball as I “Good boy’d, and attaboy’d” him for an hour. I texted my wife: “Maddox retrieved a ball!” (I also tried to make a video but I kept dropping the iPhone.) My left arm and shoulder were now aching after chucking and bouncing the ball — he caught a few on the fly. We finally called it quits. I was like a little kid and felt so very cool — I mean on the cusp-of-cocky cool — that my dog brought back a ball. Yeah, that’s right, my dog who looked like I actually trained him to do something brought back the ball. Yeah, baby, I was the King of Cool at the Charlestown Air Station. We both left the empty Dog Park with a righteous and swaggering Travolta-like strut. Maddox and I bonded that morning and rose to a new level of cool.
Cindy and I adopt dogs. It’s a simple proposition. There are so many great dogs that need a home, and it’s been our belief that there is a dog out there waiting for someone to take them into their home. There is a dog out there that needs a human, and vice versa.
“Ya know, Sailor’s slowing down and he could use a brother. I’m just sayin,’” said my wife. “It would really help Sailor, you can see how he’s really lonely and slowing down since Tu p p e n c e left us, husband.” My reply was, “Cindy, go get a bloody dog, I ain’t going dog s h o p p i n g . Just go get one.” My wife already knew that I wouldn’t go dog shopping just like I wouldn’t go to The Christmas Tree Shop to look at knicknacks. She also knew that I knew, that she was on the hunt and tracking down a dog; we know each other like a book. And, once I threw down the gauntlet, I knew it was just a matter of time. A few days later she came home and said, “I met someone today, and here he is.” She pulled up a picture of her holding a dog at the Exeter Rescue Shelter. “I held him and he kept kissing and licking my face. He’s so damn cute!” I knew she was all in already; however, the acid test was to see if Sailor could roll with this guy. These days it’s all about Sailor. So, we made plans to go check this guy out the next day.
Bang. Right from the rip I knew we had a wild character on our hands and his tenure with us was going to be rife with, ahem, Hallmark moments. Sailor, who knows the nature of terriers, rode shotgun on the way home while Cindy and Maddox sat in the back seat and she had her hands full with our new boyo. This guy is a tough room and his energy level is explosive. Maddox is a Mad Dog but in a good way. Moreover, he wants to boogie and raise hell every second of every day. After a week with this guy I asked the bride, “How old is this hell hound? He’s a wildman! He wants to jump out the window at the Bess Eaton Coffee Shop because the girls give him treats!”
“He’s 10 years old,” she said.
“No way,” I said, “They must’ve made a mistake. This guy is — maybe — two.”
Cindy insists that Maddox is ten but I truly think there was a clerical error at the shelter. Regardless of his age, this little bundle of sinew, muscle and ‘tude is a handful. Furthermore, Maddox is hilarious when he plays with other dogs and he’s friendly to a fault with all canines and humans. My wily wife, can sure pick out a dog. This adoption was a win win deal.
Since the Pandemic kicked in, dog adoptions have increased—especially in the hardest hit regions in the country. California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Georgia and many other states have had a major adoption activity, and many shelters are empty. It makes sense during this time of uncertainty and stress. Dogs take people out of themselves, and put us in the moment. Moreover, a dog will knock our blood pressure down and give us a sense of peace and calm, which anyone who is reading this column right now, could probably really use. Just sayin’.