My little dog Bobby had a rough day yesterday. A big Black Lab came from across the street at a run, aiming for Bobby, aiming to do him harm. My son and I were standing beside a vehicle, when it suddenly dawned on me the fast moving blur in my peripheral vision was a dog. Too late, he was on Bobby. Bobby rolled and ran.
I screamed at the attacker. My son was yelling, too. We both, side-by-side charged the Lab and Bobby got away and went underneath another car that was too low for the big dog to follow him. I tried to land a kick. John Luke waved his arms trying to grab the Lab, which could have been bad news for my son. It dodged us, kept crouching, barking and growling to get at Bobby underneath the car. Bobby ran from under the car out the other side, heading for my car. I ran around to grab up Bobby and the Lab raced around the other end. I got to Bobby just as the owner of the Lab came our way in a hurry trying to call off his dog.
Thankfully, the Lab abandoned his attack on Bobby to run away from his owner. The dog ran straight to a neighboring house and, from the sound of it, attacked another dog. I put Bobby in my car, while I had some hard, loud words with the dog’s owner. I was shaking. When my son and I got in with Bobby, he, too, was trembling. But we were all unmarked.
Later, on our sunset walk, with lots of dogs on leashes coming and going with their owners, Bobby was his usual friendly self with them. Until a mixed breed solid black dog approached on the sidewalk. Bobby snarled and barked as I led him onto the grass and let the dog and its owner pass. And, later as we sat together on a bench with a friend of mine, watching another exquisite sunset, Bobby’s friend Gov and his owner stopped for a visit. Gov is a stunning Black Lab, the most handsome Lab I’ve ever seen. Bobby cut Gov no slack and growled at his friend, and I apologized to his owner, and told him why Bobby was on guard.
When they left Bobby got in my lap and wouldn’t leave.
So, the bad experience of yesterday, today yielded a delightful surprise. Bobby and I had the last of the vinyl to remove from the front side of the boathouse. Where the water is, over which some boat would enter this house. I saved the trickiest for last. This project would have to include some work from a boat. And I wasn’t even sure how just I’d reach the gable.
Up the hill, Bobby watched me flip over the aluminum Jon boat, and he cocked his head, staring at me. Like, “You know I don’t like water—so, what’s up with the boat?” As I dragged the boat toward the branch, I told Bobby he’d had enough stress yesterday and I would not even think about asking him to get in with me when the time came.
Benny, who gave Bobby to me from his pack of high-country hunting dogs, said, “This guy hates the water. I know how you are about boats, but you’ll never get Bobby in a boat.”
Bobby so strongly disdains getting wet that he stands way back from his water bowl, actually having to lean toward it, so his paws won’t get splattered. It’s funny looking.
And as I dragged the boat down hill closer to the branch, Bobby, sure enough, stopped and hung back to see what I was up to. I slid the Jon boat into Waterhole Branch, and held it by the bow line. “Look, I gotta get in this thing and paddle it around to the boathouse. You just stay here in full view of me. Just take a minute.” I stepped into the boat, sat on the middle seat, and took up my paddle. “You stay, Bobby.” And I eased away from the bank.
Bobby came right up to the branch, stood beside the tall juniper on the mossy ground, right at water’s edge. He put up his other ear, and with both of ears on full alert, he whined. “What? You want it?” His tail wagged. Hmmm.
I paddled the bow around and nosed it onto the grass. Bobby got down low, whining. “Well, come on, get in!” And then it dawned on me that yesterday was still on his mind. My friend whose bench we shared, had said to me, with Bobby draped head-and-rear end over my lap, “That little guy sure loves you.” I told her I guess he does, and even more since I saved his life today. “At least, Bobby believes I did. So he’s being all cuddly because he doesn’t want to let me get away from him.”
And there it was. Bobby’s fear and dislike of the water wasn’t enough to let me be in a boat while he was stuck by himself on the bank, watching me paddle away. “You want in? C’mon, boy!” And he jumped in the boat and sat right down beside me. I couldn’t believe it!
“Okay, so let’s take a little ride in this thing.” And away we went.
And the farther we went, the more comfortable he got and wagged his tail and went up on the front seat all by himself. Standing bow watch like the ancient mariner. Until I sorta banged the side of the boat, scrubbing it with the paddle. The noise got him back on the seat with me.
I turned the boat and paddled back to the neighbor’s place, where he was outside doing some work. “You mind taking a picture of me and Bobby?” I wanted proof to send to Benny. “Sure thing,” he said, allowing he’d just got the new phone and would have to figure out how to text the picture to me. But he figured it out.
And, I do believe Bobby, today, got this boat thing figured out. When once before, almost a year ago, I’d coaxed and begged and wheedled him to jump into a little dingy with me, he didn’t like it a bit, and jumped from it, missing the shore and getting his butt wet. He wouldn’t speak to me for a long time that day.
I can see it now. My little dog Bobby in a life jacket (yes, I bought one for him when we tried the dinghy), and me wielding the paddle for summer sightseeing cruises on Waterhole Branch. And Benny can drive down from Pickens County and join us. Maybe even bring one of Bobby’s squirrel hunting cousins to sample the lowcountry lifestyle of cultured coastal canines.
Right, Bobby? Was that an aye aye, sir? I think so.