My dog Trucker has been a ladies’ man since I met him when he was five. We’ve lived in two homes now, and at each location he’s sauntered his way into the lives of female dogs (big and small) living next door. Currently he’s befriended Bonnie the Dachshund, Angel the shepherd mix, and Maddox the terrier mix. Above all, he’s particularly fond of Lulu, a Border Collie mix a bit his senior belonging to my landlords, Paul and Cindy, who live next door.
Little Lulu (or “Lu” for short) likes the companionship of dogs who are gentle, not too anxious or rough, because she has arthritis and likes being “aloof,” as my landlords jokingly say.
A row of tall arborvitaes separates my driveway from my landlord’s yard, which lies along the bank of a river. Lulu’s view from their back porch entails a landscaped yard and the flowing water.
When I come home from work or running errands, I open my back door and receive a modest kiss from Trucker and he methodically leaves me for his other woman: Lu. He dashes through the arborvitaes to find her lying on her porch after a potty break. She pushes herself to her feet and hops about with him in a sniffing game. He inspects her dinner bowl to see if any residue remains and exchanges whimpers with her before trotting back home.
Along with Trucker’s ability to befriend most any creature or human, he feels that all territory is his. If someone he knows opens the door to his or her home, car or garage, Trucker will go into it as if he’s been visiting there for years.
When my landlords opened their door to Trucker the first time, he trotted in behind Lulu as if they had been together for life. He drank from her water bowl, hopped onto her favorite sofa, went upstairs in their home to see the bedrooms and stood in the kitchen watching Cindy cook dinner, waiting intently beside her for a tidbit.
More than once I’ve gone looking for him after he dashed over to their yard, only to come up empty-handed. Trucker was in their home exploring after following Lu inside.
My landlords have been instrumental in helping Trucker control anxiety during thunderstorms. If I’m not home, they step over to let him outside and often he dwells in their home until the storms pass. If I work long hours, Paul will take Trucker and Lu in his pickup truck (all three ride in the front seat together) to their farm where the furry duo frolics in tall grass or hangs out in Paul’s workshop.
I’ve laughed many times over notes Paul leaves on my backdoor after babysitting Trucker. He and Cindy also send me photos by email of the dogs enjoying their day. “Trucker aired out 3-4. A good boy,” one note said. “Sir pees-a-lot took care of biz,” another noted.
Then there was this classic, “Trucker and I went to the farm -– walked, worked in the shop, learned a new trade.”
One evening I received an emailed “spooky picture” of Trucker with glowing eyes outside in their yard after dark. The message read, “Had Trucker over for some TV. He seemed to enjoy a Munsters rerun. Lulu slept through it. He got home at 7:30.”
At night when Lulu is outside for her last potty break before bedtime, she often barks once or twice to let Paul and Cindy know she’s done. Trucker hears it and starts whimpering from our home wanting to visit with her. If during the day he looks out one of our windows and sees Lu walking with Paul in their yard, he whimpers and trots back and forth from the back door to a window with his tail high in the air wanting to pay a visit.
One night I emailed them shortly after Lulu barked and Trucker started whimpering. I told them how funny he was acting. Cindy responded quickly by email, “Lulu just blew Trucker a kiss.”
Sometimes Trucker likes a little dinner with his canine conversation and he senses when my landlords are grilling outside or simply enjoying a glass of wine on their deck. On a warm summer evening just before dusk Trucker made his trek through the bushes and didn’t return. I stepped through the shrubs to find him lying on my landlord’s deck with Lulu as her owners enjoyed a glass of wine and apple slices dipped in a homemade caramel sauce. Both Lu and Trucker were chewing on an apple slice, enjoying the evening.
One of the most memorable exchanges came last spring when I brought home groceries and Trucker helped me by inspecting each sack. When he was done, he fled through the bushes. Laughter ensued from Paul and Cindy. I went to retrieve him only to find him sitting in front of Paul on their deck, beside Lu, waiting for tidbits of hamburger. He was performing with “sit,” “speak,” and “shake.”
Lu’s owners sent me this email later that evening:
“The neighbor dog Trucker came over tonight. A graceful sort and especially friendly once he smelled the grilled meat that was dinner. His human walked over then, too. She being the most generous cat and dog person in history, and before that too. Trucker rolled over, shook paw to hand, spoke and lay flat on his back for the bits of ground beef. Our Lulu wasn’t amused, even inching over a bit for more face time with the eaters. Once done, Trucker followed his main person home, bounding along, feet barely touching ground, caught up in his youth and security without knowing any different. It was pretty cool.”
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Tracy Ahrens is a veteran journalist, author, artist and mom to three rescued cats and one dog. See her web site at www.tracyahrens.weebly.com and add her book, “Raising My Furry Children” to your collection, www.raisingmyfurrychildren.weebly.com