I lost a buddy today: he had shiny grey fur, long muscular legs and piercing eyes that said “what ya want me to mess with now, Mamma?” This wonderful buddy was my Pit/Dane mix – named Smoke.
Compromised by parvo and being in a shelter as a pup was not heading him off to a good start. One day I arrived at the shelter to do my work there. Smoke had started to spin in his cage (not a good sign for any dog – even less so for a puppy) and voila! I had a perfect reason to take him home and make him better. My idea was that he would hang with my big dogs, learn good manners and gain confidence and then we could find him a home. This and more occurred: Smoke developed a very balanced play skill from Jack (the lab/newfie). Jack was firm with his admonishments and caring with his mentoring of Smoke. Taz (the Staffie/pit) did not put up with much of Smoke’s crap either, but again was very skilled at delivering good doggie do’s-&-don’ts to Smoke. Then there was Duke (bordercollie/mcnab) who completely ignored the little punk for at least a year. Smoke was settling in and I had visions of pack member #4, but thought that the 3 that I already had were enough. One day Cheryl nonchalantly asked me if I was going to keep him and my vision became reality.
Smoke had verve for life that one does not often see in “man’s best friend”. Not that it always went smoothly with him: he had his punk moments, but with stronger guidance from me and the rest of the gang, he blossomed into a phenomenal young dog. His claim to fame was to begin play with other dogs on cue and to teach other dogs with play skill deficits how to play. He became a master at it – deftly deflecting clumsy play maneuvers from other dogs and in the process helping these dogs realize the art and fun of dog-play. Jack continued to give him pointers here and there.
On “play” cue, Smoke taught me that play is a very important part of dog behavior and he was a joy to watch. On a “run” cue he would run the crazys around the yard, as well “speak” on cue. Sounded like Chewbacca more often than not! He always was having fun or looking for the next fun.
He has left a hole in my heart, but the determination to carry on his work with other dogs and maybe even, one day, pick up another little scrapper for my existing 3 boys to turn into another – what was, a marvelous Smoke. You will be sorely missed “my little man”.