Friday, 27 July 2012

The doghouse - Huckleberry

Huck was the sweetest-natured dog I have ever known.  There was something special about this time in our lives, I'm going to have to dwell on it a bit once I've introduced all the characters - the dog characters, that is.

Simon was the leader and that was fine with Huckleberry.  He loved everybody and everything except birds.  If you offered him a piece of dry bread in the house, he'd curl his lip and not touch it, but if you threw crusts out for the birds he'd rush out and gobble them up.  My mother stuck a half-loaf in the crook of a tree and he sat barking every time a bird came near to peck it.  I don't remember that he ever caught one, he just didn't want them fed.

His father Simon was always out looking for a bitch in heat.  He'd go outside in the morning and sniff the air to see which direction to take off.  Huck was sexless.  Totally uninterested.  He was affectionate though and loved to be stroked, he was quite vain - a very good-looking dog and he knew it.

He was a very fast runner.  We did not demand obedience from our dogs.  When we went out in the car, they expected to come too, but they didn't just get in.  They wanted a race first.  They'd follow the car to a long, straight road and race it the half-mile to the end.  Then the driver would turn and drive back, 5 mph slower.  Then back and forth until the dog, Simon or Huckleberry, would indicate he'd had enough and get in.  Simon could reach 35 mph but Huck would get to 40.

His best friend was the roadsweeper.  He'd go off in the morning and be by his side all day, sharing his lunchtime sandwiches.

His mucky habit was an affection for sordid smells and tastes.  You had to watch out with the dirty linen basket or he'd empty it, sniffing luxuriantly.  He used to wade into garden ponds, coming out covered in smelly mud and spend the next hour or two licking himself clean until his lovely golden hair was silky again.

Our drawing room had a doorknob on the right hand side as you went out, and the dining room door's knob was on the left.  Conveniently, Simon was right-pawed and Huck left-pawed, so one of them could open each door - coming into the room from the hall, they only had to push, of course.

Disobedient isn't quite the word.  I mean, would you call yourself obedient?  Good-natured, biddable, co-operative perhaps, but jumping to the word of command isn't quite what is expected of an adult person, except in a few situations or jobs.  That was how it was with Simon and Huck.  "Would you like to come over here, please?" might get a positive result, but "Here, boy" would be met with a raised eyebrow and the command ignored.  An offer to shake hands would be greeted with enthusiasm, however, as long as a treat was the result.

He was a keen jumper and climber.  There was a five-foot chain link fence against the road - there were two gates and a drive in between in front of the house.  Huck could scale it, paw over paw.  There was a white picket fence between the drive and the kitchen garden and Huck jumped it daily.  He was particularly fond of raspberries and used to pick them off the canes delicately between his lips.  Once, I was in my parents' bedroom ( a lovely room, we spent a lot of time there) and heard a terrible screaming.  I looked out and Huck had misjudged the jump and landed with his back legs between the uprights of the fence and couldn't get out.  We rushed out and released him, he could barely reach the ground with his front paws and must have been in great pain.  He was quite careful after that.

Here is Huckleberry.  He was quite perfect.  I love him still and my hand remembers the shape of his head as I stroked it and the softness of his ears.  I miss him to this day.


Paff Rine said...

I loved the story of Huckleberry! I imagined him as "someone" smaller and more terrier like, so was most surprised at his gorgeous pic at the end. I also totally approve of your families idea of dog intelligence and obedience. What is clever about obeying? Selective listening is fine with me - unless it is Rog doing it :)

kippy said...

My hand remembers the feeling of his head as I stroked it and the softness of his ears" What a sweet memory!His behavior is a lot like my standard poodle's. Please would you stay? Please stop lying down in the middle of the doorway? Please do not eat the cat roca. Every command must be asked as a please-or she won't listen.

Rog said...

Love the whacky races! 40mph! He should have had a trial at Yarmouth.

Z said...

Poodles, of course, are the most intelligent of dogs and there has to be mutual respect for a relationship with one to work - and when it does, it's wonderful. I have never known a more intelligent dog than Simon though.

You can see why life at the Zedery seems completely normal to me, I had no idea there was anything unusual in this at the time, and even now it doesn't strike me as anything out of the way.

haricot said...

Huck look really great and gentle.
I love the eyes, and I love to hear story of your dogs.

Z said...

Thank you, Haricot. I'm really enjoying writing about them.

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Macy said...

Huck was obviously the Rock Hudson of dogs.
Good looking, yet strangely uninterested in the laydeez.

Shall we ignore Mr Boycott btw? Or send a message of support to the American Women???

Z said...

Huck Rodson! You've got it, Macy.

Mr Boycott is such a tedious interloper, American women must be heartily glad he leaves them alone.

Pat said...

i love dogs with a sense of humour. Yours sound fun.

Z said...

They weren't pets, they were family.

luckyzmom said...

Beautiful, and now I am tearing up with my own found canine memories.