Guard Mastiffs; A Paradox

We recently bought a small sign that hangs on our front door. It says “Guard Mastiff On Duty” and has a depiction of an English Mastiff’s face on it. It makes me laugh every time I see it. While the sign (and Stella’s bark) might be effective if anyone who isn’t familiar with Mastiffs tries to rob us, any future felon familiar with the breed wouldn’t be intimidated in the least.

My giant dog is a giant wimp. I’ve posted before about her lack coordination. Let me now explain how fearful the poor thing is.

We got her as an adult dog from a friend of mine whose fence is more fashionable than it is functional when it comes to containing dogs the size of farm animals, so I can’t speak for what may have happened in her puppy years that may have traumatized her. Our first indication that we had adopted a ‘fraidy dog came a few weeks after we brought her home. She had already sufficiently overcome the expected fear of a new place and new family. She was waiting comfortably on her bed in our laundry room when we came home from the store one day. I had seen a large cat in the backyard when we pulled in the drive and I was anxious to see if she would be willing to chase the thing away. Please note, it wasn’t cruelty that drove my curiosity. My wife is allergic to cats and while I’m not one to unnecessarily inconvenience animals I feel that the needs of a human being take precedence over those of an animal. That being said, I let Stella out the back door and stood close by, watching, just in case she took the job of clearing our yard too personally. I needn’t have worried. In addition to being afraid of cats, our Stella is less than observant. It was nearly a full minute before she even noticed the creature. When she did she let out a deep and intimidating woof. The cat didn’t even react. It just kept sniffing around the kids’ gardens. Stella stuck her tail straight out and stalked to within about ten feet of the cat and barked again. The cat turned around and a massive Mastiff turned around and ran so fast and so footloosely that she barely stopped before crashing head first into the garage. She barked again, weakly, and trotted back into the house, nearly knocking me over.

Her running past me through the doorway seems surprising now since if I want her to stay in the laundry room, usually because we are eating dinner and she is eye level with our plates and not shy at all about sharing our food whether we are feeling generous or not, all I have to do is prop a broom against the wall just inside the laundry room door. She is horrified to walk past it. She’ll stare at it and whine from the back of the room and the second I move it she bursts in like she owns the place.

Our first Christmas season with her was interesting. We had our tree up and once, after dropping the girls off at school I returned home with the precocious five year old boy. Stella greeted us at the door, and, wagging her tail ferociously, knocked several ornaments off the tree. My son had run toward the street and as I hollered at him to stop, the ornaments began to hit the floor. Stella startled and charged forward, knocking me on my back as I desperately grabbed at her collar. For several short eternities I lay on my back, clinging with all I had to the worn bit of cloth that was all that restrained a monster from running amuck as I screamed at the youngster I could no longer see to get back to the house before he was killed. Somehow it all turned out ok. I wonder what if the neighbors noticed the disasters nearly averted that day?

Despite her uselessness as a guard dog she is quite adorable sometimes. I’ll try to walk by her as she lays on her side on the floor and she’ll paw at my ankle, nearly tripping me because she wants to be petted. Other times she lays her head on my lap and I’ll scratch her shoulders. Once it relaxed her so much she leaned against the ottoman. It slid, she fell, quite entertaining. She opens the door with her face when we come home. As soon as we crack it wide enough a huge, wet nose pokes through and she’ll jaw the thing open and block our entry in her excitement to say hello.

Her endearing qualities scored her a supporting role in the children’s book I wrote. If you’re interested, or know a young reader who might be, you can find “How Sir Donkey Legs Became a Knight” in paperback or ebook format on Google, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and xlibris.com on their online bookstore. You can also connect with me on Facebook. I use the username William Ennis. Everyone is welcome. Know that a portion of all money I receive from sales of my book (soon to be books) will go to programs dedicated to the enrichment and strengthening of families.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…love dogs, or any pets, for their endearing qualities even if they fail in other areas.

A don’t…judge me for plugging my book. I won’t be offended if you call it a silly thing. Also a don’t…think I’ve forgotten that Schnauzer. He’s scheduled to appear in the third book of the Sir Donkey Legs series.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed; A Story in Seven Parts

Part 4

Well, That Was Fun and Unexpected

If you haven’t read the first three posts in this storyline, allow me to briefly recap. I planned a birthday trip for my wife to Wichita KS. There was a secret activity, just for her (but kinda for me too) that I saved for the end and kept her in a state of anxiety about, purposely. Now you might begin to understand why part of the title is Why Didn’t She Kill Me? The posts I’ve done so far, including this one, have been a chronicle of our adventures leading up to the moment she decided to let me live.

After our eventful trip to the zoo we headed back to the hotel for a bit of relaxing and to refrigerate the leftover Cajun food we had for lunch. Two quick facts here. 1: There shouldn’t have been leftovers. The food was amazing! 2: There will be a post dedicated just to the food we ate. We are foodies and ate at several non-chain and/or localized chain places. Every one was amazing. Now, after preserving our food and relaxing for a few minutes we wonked out (see part one for a definition of wonking. It’s a driving term.) And headed to the beautiful and historic downtown area in the midst of which rose the Museum of World Treasures. Three floors of amazing artifacts. They had roman coins and mummies! Fossils and skeletons! Geodes and crystals and books and Hollywood paraphernalia! They had a balcony where you could dress as a monarch and be photographed between two suits of armor! There were displays for several major recent wars, including a walkthrough replica of a WWII trench.  They had a gift shop, of course, and although we didn’t buy anything we were quite tempted by several items. My wife would probably like for me to touch on the parking fiasco. She loves to remind me that I tried to drive into a foot-traffic-only plaza in search of a parking space. In my defense I was a wide open space, paved in brick as is the roadway in that part of town, and there was no signage indicating that vehicles were prohibited. In light of these facts I don’t feel obliged to mention the incident at all.

After traversing the winding halls of the museum we crossed the street to a place we had noticed on the drive over. It was a small haberdashery sort of a place that was strewn about with all manner of delightful knick-knacks and scrapbooking detritus called Mrs. O’Leary’s something or other. I regret that I can’t remember the entire name of the place because of its charming ambience and friendly proprietors. We purchased a small pleasantry for our dog sitter and, as we were paying, became acquainted with Dan. Dan looked like a Labrador, at least in part. He might have been a mix. He was black but graying and when I first tried to pet him he ran from me. As we were preparing to leave, and his owner nearly successfully gave him to us, Dan sauntered over to me and wrapped his neck around my leg. He didn’t have a freakish neck or anything like that. He just sidled up to my legs in the front and then bent his neck so that his head was on the outside of my thigh. I petted him for a moment and then had to pry myself away from him so that we could leave. It was the first dog-hug I’ve ever received and I enjoyed it greatly.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t.

Adieu…stay tuned for the next post in which the secret activity, the one that didn’t get me killed, will be revealed.

A don’t…ever turn down a dog hug.

A New Children’s Book, Soon to be (hopefully) A Phenomenon

If you only know me based on what you’ve read in my blog, you may be surprised to find that I would even be capable of writing an appropriate children’s book.  Despite any misgivings you may have, I assure you I am capable of such.  Allow me to bore you with my philosophy.

Ideally a book should unite families in calm togetherness that they may venture for a while outside the realm of worldly cares.  A book should teach new words, inspire questions, conversation and laughter without boring anyone (in the case of this book “anyone” refers to parents) to too many tears.

I believe these to be true of all books, however, thick novels are often most satisfying when enjoyed silently and may not be ideal for family time.  I also believe that whatever is written will be loved by some and hated by some.  With a massive world population, rampant drug use and new psychoses being diagnosed everyday, one could find a willing audience for any sort of shenanigans if one tried hard enough.  I say this as a sort of backup disclaimer.  In other words I could have said “My description of my book as a means for families to come together and laugh and learn and be entertained is in no way a guarantee that you will experience these things when reading my book with your family.  It is also in no way implied or inferred that if you don’t enjoy it you must be psychotic or filled with intoxicants.”

A brief description of the book here follows:

There isn’t much to be said.  The title says it all.  This is the story of a young boy who earns the nickname of Donkey Legs and then is knighted after accidentally saving the kingdom.  Being a children’s book, I tried to keep the plot fairly simply so as not to overwhelm and kill interest.  I tried to keep it from becoming too long and tedious. I hope I succeeded.  I did, however, end on a cliffhanger.  This is designed to inspire discussion about the ending and, hopefully, excitement for the next book, which will be available as soon as I sell enough copies of this one to be able to publish the next.

I would also like to mention that a portion of all royalties I receive from book sales will go towards programs whose goal is the enrichment and strengthening of the family, which I believe is the backbone of any civilization.  I will also work toward assisting families who are in need of food, clothing and etc.

It is time again to bid you Adieu and A don’t.

Adieu…Purchase the book to enjoy with your children and/or recommend it to someone who might like to enjoy it with theirs.  By doing so you’ll help me help families.  It is available at xlibris.com, amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com in paperback and e-book formats. If you like you can friend me on facebook for updates on new books and amusing generalities when the updates are few. Search for William Ennis if you find yourself inclined to do this.

A don’t…feel pressured to buy or share it.  I’m not a natural salesman and now feel guilty for this semi self-serving request.

The Dog and the Floor; The Opposite of Symbiosis

A massive ungainly beast wanders the narrow halls of my home. Her powerful legs, capable of knocking down fences and pushing doors open even when they’re securely closed and locked, do not give her any sense of bravado. Despite her massive jaws and two inch long pointed teeth she is so easily frightened. I’m not just talking about a twitch of her leg muscles or a sudden scrunching of her eyes when she is startled. Anything that alarms her sends her into a frenzy of uncoordinated motion that fails to regard anything or anyone in her path and she tears around with a look in her eyes that says I don’t know where I’m going or even why I’m going there but as long as I’m going somewhere everything is going to be ok.

A couple of nights ago, for example, I was in my bedroom changing into my pajamas when I heard the most unsettling sound. I can’t describe it. It was somewhat comparable to a very localized earthquake capable of going to and fro within a confined space. I naturally jumped to my feet and ran towards the sound, concerned for the well being of my family.

Before I describe the sight that greeted my eyes upon the opening of my bedroom door I must make you aware of a few facts. A much smaller, though no less ungainly or easily startled, beast wanders my narrow halls along with the massive one. The small one is a noble creature, sporting the beard of a schnauzer on the body of a Chihuahua. We have no carpets or rugs. While the doorways are comfortably wide, the furniture is arranged in such a way that the massive beast barely has room maneuver even when she isn’t scared. It should also be noted that the beast is a relatively new addition to our household. She only recently worked up the courage to spend any of her inside time in any other room than the laundry room.

With all of those facts in mind, let us return to the aforementioned sight I beheld. As I opened the door the small noble one was beelining (yes, I just verbed that) for my bedroom. If I hadn’t opened the door I’ve no doubt he would’ve slammed into it. His ears were plastered to the back of his head and his beard was blown flat against his throat with the friction of his speed. His legs moved so fast that the clicking of his nails on the floor was an uninterrupted stream of hypnotic sound. Just behind him and trying with all her might to run was the great lumbering she-beast. Her head was so low to the ground that she nearly swiffered the floor with her muzzle. Her hind end was raised and it looked as if her front half was moving at top speed forcing her rear half to struggle to keep up with it. Each leg seemed to be trying to run in a different direction from all the others. It was obvious she was trying to correct this, however the lack of friction between paws and slick wood flooring stymied her every attempt at looking somewhat dignified as she ran in fear of who knew what. Of course, she didn’t dare stop running from whatever it was that she was running from, so she just made do with what the situation handed her to get away. At the moment of first sight of the debacle it appeared that she was desperately attempting to make dinner of the small noble beast. She finally decided she’d run far enough and just in the nick of time allowed gravity to do what it had been trying to do all along and skidded to a stop on her belly mere inches from where I was standing.

What could’ve scared the great creature so? Apparently she was laying on the kitchen floor when my wife scooted a kitchen chair. It made a noise and that was enough to cause the chaos that then ensued. I’m told she was only about halfway to her feet when she decided to go ahead and try to run.

I had such high hopes for her. I imagined she would keep the children safe and run off any potential break and enterers. I suppose my best hope now is that her mere size will be enough to deter any threats my family may face in the future.

I bid you adieu and a don’t.

Adieu…love your clumsy dogs. They can’t help their skittishness and proclivity for extreme panic.

A don’t…forget that if you have large indoor dogs and wood floors, throw rugs with those stay-in-place friction pads are a must.