By Matthew E. Milliken
Oct. 18, 2015
I recently had an impromptu visit with my Parental Unit, over the course of which I was told a pair of stories about the family dogs.
I know two dogs that I would call family dogs. (In a few weeks, I’ll get to meet a third such dog, who joined my sibling’s family this year.) The first of these canines was Sunshine, a sweet mutt with a lovely brindle coat whom my Parental Unit adopted as a young pup.
Sunshine used to be a tiny creature; she was also a timid thing, at least during her puppyhood. She would frequently crawl beneath the couch in my parent’s family room and hang out.
Here’s the story that my parent told:
One day, my P.U. noted that Sunshine would eventually grow too large to fit in that space.
“Then we’ll get a higher couch,” I replied.
I have no memory of saying this, but it evidently delighted my parent.
I think this may have been so memorable to my parent because my P.U. considers me to be a bit of a killjoy and expected me to say something like “Well, the dog will just have to deal with it” or “That’s life.” I also suspect that my parent remembers it because it was an early sign of how enamored I was with Sunshine, who after all was P.U.’s pet and not my own.
The current family dog is a sweet, energetic yellow Labrador retriever named Lucky. I think my parent adopted her in April 2012 when she was 4 years old. (Sunshine died in the fall of 2011.)
Lucky is wonderful and loving, as Sunshine was, but the two dogs have distinctly different personalities. Sunshine was more of a yapper; Lucky is generally more mellow, although that goes out the window when she spots a person or when she gets the notion that she might be able to obtain some unattended food.
Typically, Lucky is not much of a barker. There were plenty of situations when Sunshine would start barking, and there were many times when that could be aggravating.
So the other night, my parent and I were taking Lucky on her nightly perambulation around the neighborhood. I think something had agitated the dog, so she’d barked a bit, and I commented on that being out of character for her.
Well, maybe that was what triggered the story that my parent told me that night, or maybe it was Carly. That’s Carly the dog, a canine resident in the neighborhood that is home to my parental unit. (I know another Carly, a person, and I believe they’re about the same age — although that’s neither here nor there.)
Carly lives in a house on a corner, and usually when I walk by, she’ll bark at me. (About 99.9 percent of these occasions involve me strolling with Lucky.) This is a natural reaction for dogs; as I understand it, they are territorial creatures. But Lucky doesn’t do it much, and I may have said something to that effect to my Parental Unit.
At any rate, whatever the precise reason, I mentioned something about Lucky’s relatively infrequent barking, and that prompted my parent to tell a story about Lucky and Carly.
One day, said my Parental Unit, said parent was walking with Lucky when they encountered a neighbor. The neighbor said something about how Lucky barked quite a bit.
My parent thinks that the man may have confused gotten Lucky’s home, and her noisemaking tendencies, confused with Carly’s. At any rate, my parent had a comeback that amused me, and I share it here.
“Well,” my parent said, “she only barks when she has something to say.”
And that, as they say, is that.