When the boys were four and seven years old, we finally moved into a house. It was then that I was doomed to follow through on a promise made--a family dog. We spent several weeks visiting the Animal Shelter. There were many wonderful canines ready for homes, but none of them matched what we were looking for. Either they were not interested in a home of chaotic, rambunctious boys, or we did not feel the pull of love to take him/her home.
Then there came Sydney. After claiming that we were looking for a small mutt, we ended up falling in love with a fifty-five pound pedigree Australian Shepherd. In the visiting room of the Shelter, she sat beside me, laid her head in my lap and told me she was ready to be our companion. Well then, that was settled.
In the days before we could bring her home, the boys and I wondered who would leave behind such a beautiful, intelligent breed. When we got her to her new dwelling, we learned very quickly why clever dogs can actually be too clever. A list of her accomplishments over the years:
Escaping from every fenced-in enclosure: six foot fences, locked gates, indestructible metal dog crate. Who ever advertised on that dog crate box that no dog could break out of it, never met Sydney. Silly fools.
Propping her paws on the counter, edging down glass jars, biting gently and lowering jar to ground, opening with her teeth. Eating contents without a crack in the glass--including a very expensive jar of Macadamia nuts that I still have not forgiven her for.
Wolfing down a box of chocolates and never getting sick.
Eating and peeling avocados and avoiding the pit.
Breaking through a glass front door without a scratch. Imagine our surprise when we got home to discover the front of our dog on the porch and the back of her in the house. I still can't figure out how she did not hurt herself. Perhaps she was a stunt dog in a previous life?
Jumping out of the car window while I was driving into the Dog Park. At least the window was rolled down a few inches so it was not broken.
What we learned from Sydney: Don't leave anything on the counter. Buy a solid wood door. Keep the windows up at the Dog Park.
What she never did learn was how to hide the evidence of her naughtiness. After eating a bag of pink candy, she tried to tell us the candy just disappeared while we were gone. There was no connection between her previously white chest fur suddenly turning pink. Aren't dogs color blind?
It was after a few of these Sydney accomplishments that I began to get an inkling as to why her previous owners thought that perhaps she was a bit difficult to keep as a pet. But what they may have failed to notice are her plus sides.
I was always protected. Just try to hug me in her presence--she would stand in front of me and block the way. You could have been a hug attacker!
Waiting outside the bathroom door, she would not let any child come close. She knew it was my moment of peace and was there to make sure I got it.
She almost drowned in the river attempting to herd us back to the shore. This from the dog who hates getting wet.
At walk time, she could jump and leap in a full circle in excitement. Taught us the value of simple pleasures.
Always waited at the door for our arrival. Nothing like coming home after traffic, smog and stress to a loving warm ball of fur. She knew her value.
Now that she is old, things have changed a bit. A daily walk around the block takes about half an hour. Sleep is more fun than the Dog Park. No glass doors or metal cages have been busted in several years. But she is still our adored, beautiful, wonderful Sydney. The people who left her behind were just plain stupid.
Owner of that too clever dog
P.S. I was going to wait until she passed to write about how wonderful she is. But then I realized that once she is gone, I won't be able to talk about her for quite a while.