Pet peeve: Dogs not writer’s best friend

By Ted Blankenship | August 31, 2021

By Ted Blankenship

Dorothy and I are unique in our new neighborhood in Bel Aire. We don’t own a dog. Most of our neighbors have at least one. For some, one is not nearly enough. Walk down any street and you will get barked at by small-but-alert dogs, some of them several blocks away. 

Small dogs have an enormous olfactory range. They consider anyone who enters a radius of eight to 10 blocks from their center of alertness an intrusion that requires serious barking.

There are poodles, several kinds of bulldogs, yappers of all kinds and a few that look big enough to remove an arm or leg. 

It’s not that we don’t like dogs. It’s that houses here are close together and dogs can go anywhere they please as long as they have an owner on the leash.

I’m going to get some nasty looks and maybe some heated criticism from friends who own little dogs, but as a serious journalist, I have to report the truth, and that is that small dogs and I don’t appreciate one another much. What breeds are we talking about?

I would include the Dachshund, a hound with short legs and a loud mouth; Miniature Schnauzer (nothing miniature about his voice); Jack Russell Terrier and Boston Terrier; Basset Hound; Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie for short and a master barker), Pomeranian; Beagle, and the champion with a high-pitched bark, the Chihuahua. 

I’m well acquainted with Chihuahuas. My late mother-in-law, Manila Houts, had two or three of them at different times, all named Skippy. 

Fortunately — at least as it relates to Skippy — Manila lived on a ranch in the lower Rio Grande Valley, a little more than 900 miles south. So Skippy and I saw each other only once a year when we visited on vacation. That was more than enough for both of us. 

I didn’t like Skippy much, and he loathed me only as a Chihuahua can. When I entered the house, he stood tall in the rear and low in the front and circled me while yapping in his high-pitched voice until he was exhausted. 

It was the same when a new Skippy came along. I think the old Skippy passed along the word: “You can’t trust this guy. Bark until he leaves.” 

Over the years, the dog and I tolerated each other, but the truce was always shaky. Yet the standoff lasted for several years until one Christmas when we drove to Texas to celebrate the season with Dorothy’s family. 

There was a Christmas tree in the living room with a lot of packages under it. So when I had finished bringing in the luggage, I carried in the packages we had brought. 

I put one under the tree and Skippy bit me on the hand. I whined to Dorothy’s Mom:

“Hey, Skippy bit me.”  

“Well, it’s his tree,” she said. 

Skippy didn’t bark. He didn’t have to. He had won the battle. 

My wife put the presents under the tree, and if a dog could smirk, he would have smirked. 

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