Our dog, Hurley, is pretty useless. Cute, loyal, but generally not good for doing typical "dog" things. He is the only dog in the world that will not eat food scraps if they fall on the floor. He only eats his food (yes, HIS food) if it's mixed with cottage cheese. He's a nervous boy, a finicky eater, a lover of vegetable plants, and an over-zealous boxer who wants to paw at or touch anything that gets in his path. Touch. Touch. Touchtouchtouchtouchtouch...
But we love him. He has that super-sweet boxer way about him and he's so good with the kids.
He's been getting better about walks in the last year and will now--mostly--walk next to me without pulling on the leash. He still has bad nights from time to time when he sees other dogs and A) wants to play, b) pulls at his leash, and then c) gets all nervous and buggy when he can't really pull toward them, and d) spends the rest of the walk wigging out. But as long as we try to stay away from other dogs on the path, he's fine and we don't have to do the nervous thing. I like walking with him most of the time.
He has some weird habits, though. He won't drink water or go to the bathroom unless we're at home. This is SUPER inconvenient when we walk. I always worry about him--he has a heart murmur--so when he starts panting like a madman I wish he'd just get a drink out of the lake or the drinking fountain and take a little rest. Not so much, usually. And 9 times out of 10 when we get home from an hour walk he's crossing his legs until I let him in the backyard to pee. What a weirdo.
Anyway, last night we got home from a nice three mile walk and (of course) I let him out in the backyard. He came back in within a few minutes but he wouldn't leave the slider alone. He kept nosing at it and staring at the backyard. I figured he wasn't done, so I let him out again but I left the slider open enough for him to come back. I was about to settle in and start watching the Olympics, so I didn't want to get right back up to let him in when he decided he was on the wrong side of the door. He didn't come back, though. Not for a long time, and eventually I heard him barking in the back corner of the yard near the flowerbed, a serious big-dog bark.
Hurley doesn't bark. Not much, anyway. I taught him to "speak" so I can scare away creepers from the front door, so he barks on command or if someone strange comes up to the front of the house. But otherwise? Not really. Almost never in the backyard. So I called and called him (this is a theme this week!) and I flipped on the light to see what he was doing. He turned to look at me, but he wouldn't come in to the house. Totally weird for him. So I walked over to the corner where he was standing, stiff, with his front paws planted in front of something in the lawn.
A rat. A wiggling, near-dead rat. My boy caught his first rat. I had no idea he could do it. And he was standing there, barking until E came out back too. Guard dog.
We've had a rat problem in our backyard this year. Never before, but all of the sudden we've got Rat Central Station under our retaining wall. E and I have collectively trapped five, and Hurley's is number six. I think that's the last one. But if I never see a rat again it will be too soon. I'm praying that now he knows what he's doing, he might at least chase them out of the yard. Up until last week he was laying in the grass, regarding fondly them as they ran to and fro.
Let's hope he continues to guard the homestead.