Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Poochie the Prairie Dog

Poochie was brother Charlie's five year birthday present.  A wiggly, excited, pee all over the floor, roan Austrian Heeler aka cattle dog.  He was a little boy's best friend and, since my brother was decidedly his own person, it was no surprise that Poochie grew up to be a singularly interesting canine.
Poochie learned to live his life as the doggy king of Ebey's Prairie.  Never mind that he was only about 20 lbs, he was THE DOG!  And being that he was a very friendly, adventurous sort of fellow, he would often take his explorations far afield.  Like two miles into town hanging out on the wharf begging treats from the tourists.  We would go into town to pick up the mail and yell at our dog to go home.  The daily errands.
He was also known to terrorize the neighbors Dalmations who were chained outside during the day.  Apparently chained just far enough away from the doggy door to the kitchen leading to their food bowl.  Poochie either really liked their food, or really liked harassing them.  But whatever the reason (and we guess the later) he would saunter jauntily by them as they had doggy conniption fits at the end of their chains and nonchalantly eat their food.
Another neighbor stopped us one day in to say he had spotted Poochie running down the middle of the road toward home, one end of a long link of sausages in his mouth.  We can't imagine where he got that but it couldn't have been good! 
Poochie was as friendly as could be, but put a collar on him and he would FLIP out!  Many a day we would find Poochie running home, a county collar on with a leash dragging behind him.  He would walk right up to the dog catcher, but as soon as she put a leash on him he was GONE.  Sweet little dog becomes a crazy Tasmanian Devil dog.  We got a lot of leashes this way.  And one PISSED OFF animal control officer.
But aside from his ability to infuriate Dalmatians, dog catchers and whoever owned that sausage, Poochie's most singular claim to fame was his ability to flatten tires.  You see, Poochie was an Australian "Heeler."  Heelers are used to herd mostly cattle and they do so by "nipping" at their legs.  Poochie didn't have a chance to herd any cattle during his life, so instead he herded cars.  Cars that went up and cars that went down our long dirt driveway were treated to the spectacle of a little roanish dog trying to eat their tires.  They were always worried, the drivers, about running over poor sweet little Poochie.  When what they should have really been worried about was their tires.  Because a few hours later they would have a flat, victim to a tiny little canine tooth puncture.  Tiny, but deadly.
Eventually, this became a problem.  A family starts getting a reputation when everybody that comes to visit gets a flat.  Small town and all.  So out came the electro collar and remote control shock treatment.  A helpful friend drove up the driveway, as soon as Poochie went into "Heeler" mode out came the remote control. Zap!  Only a few times of this and the problem was solved.
Mostly.  You see, Poochie just couldn't help himself when it came down to the tires of the vehicle belonging to his arch-nemesis, Step Grandpa Al.  Now Poochie was the sort of dog that liked EVERYBODY.  But not Al.  Since none of the rest of the family liked Al either, we could understand the feeling. And Al did nothing to win Poochie over.  Everytime he and Grandmother Roberta would come over, Al would yell and kick and throw things at Poochie, who would have by this time turned into a growling, hair raised on his back, ball of roan red vengeance.  And vengeance he would take.  On Al's tires.
One week, Al had four flat tires within 5 days.  That was the week my Grandmother tried to put a hit out on Poochie.
She called our cousin Merf, retired Sheriff's Deputy.  The appropriate man for the job.  Grandma always gets right to the point.  So she offered Merf $100 to sneak out in the middle of the night and shoot Poochie.
Merf asked her if he should put a silencer on his rifle.  Well yes, that would be a good idea, she thought.
"So," drawls Merf, "You want me to sneak out in the middle of the night and ASSASINATE their dog?"
Merf, thankfully for Poochie, declined the job.  Poochie went on a live a long and productive life, his tire-biting habit finally caught up with him in the end.  But he went out in glory, biting the tires of a huge harvest tractor-trailer in a neighboring field.  It was, for him, the road to doggie Valhalla.

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