Posted by Duff

redbrindletwo.jpg picture by duffoliverIn 2004, when my husband was still my boyfriend, we adopted a rescue greyhound who had run for the local track. My husband has always wanted to do this, and although neither of us had ever had a dog, and we had two young cats, it seemed like a really good idea. 

Enter Mojo, 4 years and 85 pounds of red brindle greyhound, called ‘Tiger Dog’ by the neighborhood children. He had never lived in a home, never walked on wood or linoleum, or most likely even seen stairs.  It was new territory for all of us.

And Mojo, despite the neurotic tendencies indiosyncrasies he taught me to expect from anyone with a heartbeat, was a good boy. He had been well-trained, was highly social, and did very, very well with our careful Cat Introduction Process. It was clear he wanted to make us happy.

However, he was also exactly who he was. A sight hound. Who was all muscle and determination. So if something he wanted came into view, he became single-minded of purpose. And he’d drag me, ground-skiing behind him. Often, I felt like a sweaty idiot who couldn’t control her charge. But because I knew this was part of his genetic code and he otherwise followed direction, we had an understanding.

Until I got pregnant.  And he saw me snoozing on the couch constantly, popping sour candy, gagging during our walks. And he saw his first opportunity for freedom from discipline. And stopped listening. And bit me, more than once.  Not because he loved me any less, but because he saw an opening for Number One in our relationship and had to test it out.

Honestly, he seemed almost afraid of his possible new role, and this anxiety only escalated his acting out. And I had to peel myself off the couch and get more strict with him than I ever imagined I would, before he became someone he wasn’t.

Mojo loved The Dervish from the day we brought her home, and braved The Big Bad Stairs, barreling through a baby gate to get to her when she was crying. He whined and paced, pausing to nervously sniff her head. Ears cocked, eyes pleading: Help her

Even before she could bark orders at him, she was his Alpha.

He would never know just how smitten he could be with her. He passed away 10 months later.

Just this week, The Dervish has been waking up in the morning, looking toward the hallway and saying “Tiger, Tiger!” It’s out of context, and has me perplexed. My cats are nowhere to be seen, we haven’t been reading books about tigers, and when I ask “Tigger?” she gets very annoyed with me. Noooo. Tiger.

Coincidentally, since there has been a lot of jockeying for position in our household of late, I have thought of our Tiger Dog a lot – his endearing combination of fierce strength that bordered on defiance coupled with obvious loyalty and a genuine intention to please us.

He certainly taught me a lot about The Dervish. Even if I’m only understanding it now.

Photo credit: http://greyhoundpictures.com – “Diva”

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