“Dogs got personality. Personality goes a long way.” – Quentin Tarantino
For two years, my late mother’s dog Nubby came to live with us. This elderly, snaggle-toothed, scarred, albino-like, nub-tailed dog had bonded to me when I visited Mom is years past. But my wife and children remained always wary and reluctantly tolerant. Seven or so years earlier, it was my mother’s bold move to plan our children to bed down with Nubby on the family’s first visit. In Nubby’s history was a very early-life trauma on the island of Madagascar at the hands of children. Mom was one to adopt Nubby when the rescuer was unable to care for her. It became my responsibility when settling my mother’s affairs to take Nubby in along with her cats.
At home we already had a female Australian Shepherd-mix and a male Newfoundland-Black Lab cross which my mother had taken in during the late 1990s while I was deployed for six months with the Navy. So it was my way of, compulsorily, returning the favor.
Nubby, though scrawny, at greetings, feedings and walks held the opinion that she was the Alpha. And apparently this was continuation of an old rivalry between Sydney and ‘the Nubs’. At feeding time, getting out for walks or welcomed home from work, I had to choreograph separate times for each. ( A lion tamer or a gladiator in the Coliseum might have had an easier time.) Nubby had been living with a hermit who rarely entertained and lived with her animals in solitude. With me however Nubs was slowly easing into a more extrovert personality. As she spent more time walking the neighborhood with me, three girls – between preschool and first or second grade, might be playing outdoors. These children were more compassionate and made a fuss over her appearance. As time passed, Nubby enjoyed seeing them and she would wiggle half her body at the greeting.
Nubby’s pal and confidant was my other adopted guest, a scrawny, one-eyed pirate- cat Indy. Coming from a desert where scorpions and lizards ran to include the venomous sort, he took quite well to the suburbs and paved streets. He was equally battle-scarred by life but was road-savvy, nonplussed by dogs and people. On a walk, he might accompany us the length of the block but be on the OTHER side of the street. He was the calming influence for Nubby. He was Ying to Nubby’s Yang.