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Carol Perkins: If I didn't have a dog, I wouldn't have a dog

(Fluffy) is aggravating, but I try to remember that those we love most are also the ones who sometimes aggravate us the most - CAROL PERKINS
Click on headline for complete story. The next earlier Carol Perkins column: Carol Perkins: The Fourth of July

By Carol Perkins

If I didn't have a dog, I wouldn't have a dog.

What that means is that I will never have another dog. At least not an inside dog and one whose goal is to watch every move I make and guard me as if I am worth gold. He takes on squirrels climbing trees, birds landing on the porch banister, and the UPS man. Fluffy does not know the good guy from the bad, which sounds like the perfect security system, but in the middle of the night I had rather have an alarm.

Fluffy is nine and beginning to slow dow

Fluffy is nine years old and is beginning to slow down-until something startles him in the garage, or a car passes on the street, or a doorbell rings on TV. "Fluffy," I yell, "it's just the TV." I think he understands. He certainly understands when I say the word "bath" because he hides behind the couch. He understands the word "treat" because he circles five times and heads for the kitchen. We even spell to each other, "Has Fluffy had a T-R-E-A-T?"

Around the time "Wheel of Fortune" comes on, Fluffy jumps into Guy's lap, eyeballs him, and barks. "What do you want?" He won't give up until Guy gets up and gets him a treat. He never demands anything of me. "Why doesn't he bark at you?" Guy says in a pout.

Fluffy now needs assistance; not so acrobatic anymore

Fluffy can't jump up on the bed like he did last year, so he waits for me to lie down and then he puts both paws on the side of the bed and begins slapping the sheets. "Do you want up here, Fluffy?" I ask which causes him to circle five times and then sit beside the bed to wait. After about five minutes on the bed, pushing the extra pillows off with his head, he jumps down so he can position himself on the back of the couch that faces the street to guard the night.

Guy works from home often, so he tells me that a few minutes before I am to arrive at the end of the day, Fluffy will sit on the rug at the door to wait. The dog can tell time. He greets me with barks, circles, and more barks until I give him a treat. "He has slept all day," Guy will relay.

"No wonder. He was up all night guarding."

He's a guard dog who wears duty well

When Guy is not home at night, Fluffy wears his duty well. Too well. Do you know what it is like to be awakened by the shrill of a knife-like bark? For a nine-pound Maltese, he can take years off a life. I spring straight up in the bed with my heart pounding and yell at him, "FLUFFY, STOP BARKING." I can tell his people outside bark from all the other barks.

I cannot let Fluffy outside unless he is on a leash because he runs off to the neighbor's house and if the neighbor is outside, will go for his ankles. He likes ankles. He hates most men.

He's very perceptive

As I write this, Fluffy is sitting beside me and occasionally he lifts his head to see if I am almost finished. He will stay with me until I am finished. He is aggravating, but I try to remember that those we love most are also the ones who sometimes aggravate us the most, so I pat him on the head, look down into his dark brown eyes and say, "Fluffy, want a treat?" He begins to circle. - Carol Perkins

This story was posted on 2013-07-21 05:35:51
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