The True story of the life of luxury of our 4 year old Norwegian Elkhound, Luka.
You wouldn't know it by his regal actions, his gorgeous coat, his athletic abilities, and his overall likeability (I'd guess, from my own personal feelings about him and from the reactions of countless lives he has touched) has to be a 20 on of a 1 to 10 likeability scale, 10 being the most likeable and manageable dog, but our 4 year old Norwegian Elkhound is a rescue. And boy, did he want and need rescued when he was just a year old. He's been paying us back for three years with total appreciation.
My soon to be "empty nester" wife and soon to be off to college son were itching to get another dog. Cassie, our loveable yet very protective and self-centered 11 year old CockaPoo (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix), I guess, wasn't enough for my wife Mimi and son Stefan. Besides, Cassie was 11 and "needed a playmate" - which Luka provided for her, and she is now a spunky 14 year old.
Neither was our adorable, but very much CAT cat in all aspects of the word, Fizzle (our daughter's cat which soon became OUR cat - given to her by a long gone boyfriend as a gift, I think, to torture me because of my demand in the family that one animal at a time was enough). "Dad, look at her. How could you say no to such an adorable kitten?"
We have had so very many cats, all, I'm afraid, were avid outdoorsman who met untimely deaths due to their insistence of crossing busy roads to get that last mole or mouse that happened to be living on the other side of the lane.
Yes, they were outdoor cats. Rescues, mind you. (The sadness of their all too early deaths is obscured only because of their love of outdoors and their lurking abilities - not to mention the amount of small creatures they brought to our doorstep as "gifts" for us). We tried, with every cat we owned, to have an indoor cat, but soon always gave in to their wishes to become explorers. And, as all explorers do, to eventually meet untimely deaths.
Below, 14 year old Cassie and 5 year old Fizzle (please don't be fooled by the cuteness of Cassie's tongue hanging out - it always is)
As I was saying, we didn't need, I didn't want, another animal in the house. Too much work, too much cleaning, too much of too much. "We'll do all the work," my 20 hour a day basketball playing son - soon to be off to college - would opine.
And with our daughter being off at school, living her life of independency, AND my wife working an extremely full time job with the Federal Government, having another animal in the house meant only one thing. The person who is home MOST of the time bears the brunt of ensuring that the animals are well kept. That would be me.
But as in many households, I am told, the husband/father's wish is usually placed on the backburner by a child's and a wife's demands. I didn't argue. Didn't throw a tantrum. I did what all great fathers and husbands do: I sheepishly relented. Had I not, there would be no peace in our house for years to come.
Their quest for "a new dog" - my son's obsession with all things "new" is relentless, with my wife and I knowing all along that whatever he passionately wants, he usually gets, but his interest soon wains as he moves on to his next quest (obsession) - was full throttled. Even knowing that his "promise" that the new house guest would be his "responsibility" and that he would take care of the new animal, when looking at my wife's excitement about obtaining a new animal, I immediately relented. "Okay," I responded, "but keep me out of this, and it is not my dog. It's yours." There, I told them. You can guess where this story is going, can't you. (If you are a husband or a father, you absolutely know where this story is going).
The bug up their anal sections started with reading a story about retired military working dogs and how badly they needed homes. Most of these dogs are extremely large dogs, most German Shepherds, but, as I helped with the research, found very quickly that Military Working Dogs are in high demand. The waiting list to adopt a military dog is longer than the waiting list for Pittsburgh Steelers tickets. Whew. That bullet was dodged.
I began to see that they were looking at a big dog this time. Thus far, Cassie only weighed 20 pounds, a manageable-sized dog, and is a non-shedding lap dog. Cool. No muss, no fuss, and for intents and purposes, Cassie has been a great dog, even though she has bitten everyone in our family (except me, I am proud to say) and most neighbors' children. Needless to say, my wife and I spent many nights huddled in our bed praying that the next day didn't find a lawsuit at our doorstep because she nipped a neighbor's child's ankle as he tried to get by the house on his skateboard or her bike.
I know, as I have been told countless times by readers, I digress - too much. (However, to me, background goes to the heart of the current. I have to live by that creed). Back to Luka's story. So, my wife and son were ambitious to get a big, hairy, shedding, probably slobbering dog. Being a clean person and being the type of person who expects a house to be orderly and clean, also, I didn't want to be chasing dog fur, dog muddy tracks, dog slobber, dog SMELL -- heavens no, no big smelly dogs allowed. Cassie is so small, and we keep her in a "puppy haircut" (see, I even learned canine haircut terminology) that she presents none of the above problems.
I do like German Shepherds, but not in my house as permanent residents. No German Shepherds. Had to take a stand. So, the NEXT BRILLIANT IDEA from THEM was, of course, something more cynical - a Rottweiler (understand, my wife is German - first generation). What that means when choosing a pet is beyond me. Cassie is not German. Fizzle, I strongly assume, is not German, neither was Caesar (my old dog), Ariel (our rescued Irish Setter who, by the way, was also a fantastic animal) was not German. Caliban, Portia, Sophia (our deceased cats) were not German. But, the next animal we HAD to get HAD to be German (note: German Shepherd and then Rottweiler).
Why big dogs, I thought.
Our very good friends have a REAL, HONEST TO GOODNESS, 90 pound black and tan Coondog AND a an equally large Irish Wolfhound/Black Lab mix. We have dog sat these dogs, and they are Luka's best friends, and even though I love them, having spent considerable time with them, I wouldn't want them to take up permanent residence in my house. Again, my preference. Way too large for me. And having two of them jumping on me and actually knocking me over is a bit much. Don't want dogs in my house who's soul purpose is to tackle me. I can do without that.
At this point, I was really on edge. All dogs are good dogs, I agree. However, the top ten most dangerous animals on every list I have researched (which, I am sure, and having experience with all of them make great pets), includes the Rottweiler (number two on the list that includes - of course, all huge dogs - Pit Bull, Great Dane, Bullmastiff, Doberman Pinscher, Boxer, German Shepherd, wolf hybrid, Malamute, plus, on some lists, the Siberian Husky). The one thing I neither wanted or needed was an animal that was prone to violence - genetically - although, again, I have come to learn that it is the owner and the dog's training that counts - all dogs are born good dogs. It's people who make them dangerous. I want to be very clear on this point.
Saving grace: I happened to tell a very nosey neighbor about my family's plan to get a Rottweiler. Soon after, the doorbell rang (was waiting for this - when I say nosey, I mean nosey). It was our neighbor. "Steve," he quizzed me. "Do you really want to get a Rottweiler? I spoke with out neighbors and they feel uncomfortable having a Rottweiler in the plan. You know they are dangerous dogs?"
How dare he once again put his nose into my business, but in my mind, his Godsent message was just what I needed to turn my wife and son off on the idea of bringing a Rottweiler home. "You know, guys, the neighbors are fearful that a Rottweiler would be too dangerous of a dog to have in our "tight knit" community. We wouldn't want to offend them, would we?" Well, that was enough talk of Rottweiler's for the time being.
Heck, Cassie, remember, our Cockapoo, was nicknamed "the running police dog" because she attacked every running child in the neighborhood, demanding that they stop running in front of our house. Once more, the cause of sleepless nights. And I would bet any amount of money that a Cockapoo is not on the top 100 lists of dangerous dogs. Quite the contrary, although the ONLY dog that ever bit me was my uncle's poodle, and the only dog that every almost nearly killed me was my friends Cocker Spaniel (which I found to be a very protective breed - never stick your hand in a car with any dog in it, especially a Cocker or Springer Spaniel. You may not have the hand given back to you).
Luka is truly a different type of dog. I'll be explaining that next time.