Monday, April 06, 2009
Dozer, what a dog!
By Andrew Davis
He’s the prima donna pooch my girlfriend and I rescued 2 and ½ years ago. The first time I glimpsed him, he looked well, monstrous. I mean, he was incredibly huge standing up in his kennel. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. The biggest pet I’d had ever owned until that point was 23 pounds, and that cat (yes, a cat CAN weigh 23 pounds) ruled my house. But here was a 90-pound dog that was used to hunting bears in the mountains of Japan.
How did I know this? Because he’s an Akita and that’s what Akitas were bred to do, hunt bears in the mountains of Japan.
The first time we were allowed to take Dozer for a walk was a wonderful experience. Kristin and I held hands, but soon Dozer practically had knocked us down and dragged us right into traffic. We took him home anyway. We looked forward to a new life with our cat, Rascal, and our darling new pup, Dozer.
The honeymoon lasted 12 hours.
While at work the next day, I checked in on Kris who was sitting with Dozer in the living room. Rascal was in the bedroom. They were slowly getting acclimated to each other. Or so I thought.
Here’s how the conversation with Kris went:
“Hey, baby. How’s Dozer?”
“He’s – Oh S***.”
Long story short; apparently, cats can run on walls.
We decided to send Rascal to live with Kris’s mom for a bit, so it was just us two and The Doze in our small apartment. Now an Akita in anything smaller than a house is less than optimal, but luckily we’re across the street from Albany’s beautiful Washington Park.
Lucky for him, I should say.
Have you ever run after a dog in a giant park? Maybe? OK. Now imagine running after a dog who’s chasing squirrels in this giant park. Here’s the thought process of a dog running just for the fun of it: Yay! I’m free. Pee here. Pee there. Pee Evvverywhere. HaHaHa – catch me if you can! Weeeee!!
And here’s the thought process of an Akita chasing a squirrel:I’m gonna eat you! Come here. Stay still! Don’t you run away from me. YOU’RE DEAD!
Dozer clearly thinks the latter when he runs off after squirrels. He’s almost all-white running through brown trees and over green grass – so, of course, he never catches anything. Actually, he doesn't even come close to the squirrels.
“Oh boy, here comes The Great White Hopeless again.”
“I say we act surprised and head up this tree when he gets within 50 feet.”
“Good idea. Only 200 more to go.”
Poor Dozer. I feel sorry for him sometimes because he actually thinks he could get ‘em. He really does. And on the day I felt my worst, he’d thought he would get lucky.
One morning, my loving girlfriend made me walk Dozer when I was dying of the flu. So I took him out for his normal walk and happened to see a few of his friends at the dog park. “OK,” I thought. “He could run around for a bit then I can get right back into the bed and next to my spit cup.” And so, it started off well. He was playing with his harem of girlfriends, nudging them on the butt and running away. You know, doggie tag. Then P-Zoom! He was off.
I looked out into the trees he was running toward but didn’t see any squirrels. That’s because there weren’t any. Whatever he saw had to be at least 1000 feet away. Too far for him to simply have fun and come right back. So I started jogging after him, with my wad of Puffs Plus with Aloe in my hand, thinking he’d come running back when he saw me. Well soon after, he saw me, stopped, gave me the middle finger, and kept on running.
Then I did what all dog owners have done at one point or another. I forgot he didn’t speak English. “Dozer. DOZER! You get back over here. Right Now! Don’t you ignore me. Ohhh, you’re in big trouble, young man. BIG Trouble!” Meanwhile, he’s flying up and down hills and I’m struggling after him breathing out of one nostril while snot’s pouring from the other. At this point he’s at least 100 yards away. People are looking at me like I’m insane, and I can’t blame them. It’s August. Sweat is dripping from all over because I’m wearing a fleece and a jacket. I’m so winded, I’m now running like I’m drunk. I’m blowing my doggie whistle while screaming for something named Doh-Zaaaa with a wad of tissues in my hand.
Anyway, I finally catch up to him eight minutes later on the front lawn of somebody’s house. He tried to run behind it, but there wasn’t any way to the back. The only way out was past me and he was just as tired. We faced off. I squatted and spread out my arms like a soccer goalie.
“Just you and me, big boy.” But, by the look in his eye, I knew he was going to go for it. With my last ounce of energy, and way past being out of breath, I spoke again. I didn’t care what language he spoke. “All----you have---- to do------- is surrender. Don’t------ do anything------ stupid,” I huffed, barely able to string my words together. He was unfazed.
Looking left then looking right, he went for it. It all happened in slow motion. I dropped my tissues, faked one way to send him the other. It worked. While diving, I amazingly I grabbed his collar. It was like catching the final out in the World Series – just a lot sweatier. He didn’t even put up a fight – just collapsed on the grass with me.
After 10 minutes, I finally mustered up enough energy to reach into my pocket, take out my cell, and call Kris.
Woken from the sleep I should’ve been having, she sounded annoyed. “Why? What happened?”
“Dozer--------ran. --------- Too tired--------to explain. ---------Get car.”
“Lying-------front lawn---------houses -----in park. --------Don’t -------ask.---- Pick me----- up.”
That Sunday morning, as Dozer and I laid there on some person’s lawn, panting uncontrollably, with fluid pouring from our faces, we were the same. Both defeated, but victorious. He had the time of his life terrorizing the neighborhood squirrel contingent, and I got my dog back.
Andrew Davis, a public school teacher, lives and works in Schenectady, New York.