Heart Hound Stories Excerpt

Bladder Control

Late in July we noticed that a new element had been introduced into the Great Dane’s morning routine. The neighbor’s cat had a daily habit of tormenting the dog. She would appear each morning just before Chingo’s usual time of exiting the house for his morning ritual. She would creep up on the deck and sit on the other side of the sliding doors waiting for the Dane to appear. Once he appeared she would stand and hiss at him until she raised his ire. Initially we were hesitant to open the slider, but between the dog’s fury and the need to relieve his bladder we had to take the chance. The cat immediately raced across the porch and streaked across the yard, heading for a big maple tree at the left back corner of the lot. She reached the tree before Chingo could clear the deck stairs. Large dogs, like horses, require a few strides to build up speed!

Morning after morning, week after week, the two repeated the morning ritual. The cat was always well up in the tree by the time the Dane could cross the yard, even when they started nose to nose with only a pane of glass between them. I would swear the cat was laughing, and the dog was swearing at the end of each morning’s chase.

One day in late August, the ritual changed. The cat arrived as usual and Chingo most definitely saw the cat, but paid no attention to her. When I opened the door, the cat streaked for the tree as usual. The dog did not give chase. If a dog can be said to stroll, Chingo strolled across the deck and appeared to take great interest in something on the right side of the yard. Curious as to the change in behavior, I went out on the deck to watch. After a few moments, the dog yawned, stretched and, with great deliberateness, descended the stars. Rather than taking his normal track to the left corner of the yard where the cat awaited, Chingo took a hard right and walked over to the bush closest to the house. When the dog went to the right, the cat, no doubt having her own curiosity tweaked, made her way down the tree and followed the line of bushes on the left side of the house until she took a position under a low-lying branch of a fir tree located opposite the target bush on the right.

When I turned my attention back to the dog, I noticed that at last he had lifted his leg to relieve his bladder on the bush. He held the position for the normal time, but I realized that nothing was coming out! Fascinated, I watched him move to the next bush, lift his leg, and hold the position without peeing. Working methodically, Chingo repeated this behavior on every bush and tree until he reached the low-lying fir branch, with the cat below. This time, he voided his very, very full bladder! The cat was frozen in shock, her yellow eyes wide and unblinking. After unloading his bladder, Chingo turned toward the deck and, with his shovel-sized front feet, proceeded to sling dirt between his hind legs to cover the soaking cat. Without a backward glance and with great dignity, the very Great Dane ascended the stairs to the deck and politely asked to be let into the house for breakfast. The cat and I both learned something that morning. The cat learned the dog was a clever opponent, and never returned to the house to torment the dog. I learned that dogs can plot!

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