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.