Well, this one’s going to be a bit tricky…
You see, I don’t have a dog. My husband doesn’t dislike animals, but doesn’t want one in the house. Early in our marriage, he made it quite clear that I would have to choose between a husband or a pet – and so far, for more than 32 years – he has won out.
It’s really not a close contest, to be honest. And having a menagerie of imaginary pets makes using “Your first dog’s name” as a security question quite entertaining. My real first dog’s name was Toby; that has never been the answer to a security question. Toby was a miniature poodle – so eager to please everyone! My second dog, though, was the smart one – a Keeshond named Echo. Smart and friendly. We used to joke that Echo was so friendly she’d lick burglars to death – and if she could talk, she’d say to them, “No, no, not there! Let me show you where the good silver is!”
Keeshonds were used, in the Netherlands, to pull barges. They’re compact and strong. Echo loved to pull me along on my bike, but I had to be wary: If she saw kids on the other side of the street, she’d take off at right angles to greet them, dragging me suddenly down onto the pavement.
She knew every nickname of my grandmother: Mrs. Ganz, Mom, Monna, Mrs. G, Willine – because my grandmother brought her cheese – glorious cheese – and Echo would be standing at the front door, tail wagging, to greet her. Echo’s favorite pet name for my grandmother? “The Cheese Lady.”
Echo loved snow! At the first good snowfall, she would bound across the sparkling lawn, then dip her nose into the stuff and run, making a deep groove in the snow’s surface. Keeshonds grow a thick, winter coat – like lambs’ wool – that keeps them comfy when the rest of us are bundling up in down parkas and wrapping our hands around ceramic mugs full of hot cocoa.
Despite her obvious intelligence, we never quite managed to housebreak Echo. Or so we thought. When we moved, we realized that the wet spots on the indoor-outdoor carpet in the kitchen – where she’d been paper trained, and where we thought she’d continued to “go” – were actually just being re-wetted by a leaky refrigerator. Poor Echo must have thought her humans were a few bricks short of a load, but she never complained at the injustice of being scolded (lightly, for we’d decided she just had “issues”) for accidents she wasn’t having.
My best friend and I decided, one summer, that if we were going to feed our dogs Milk Bone treats, we ought to taste them, too. We wondered which flavor was best, and we were surprised to learn that “cheese” wasn’t it. Later, we wondered why the dogs got so excited over these “treats” at all. But we taste tested every one as if it were our sacred duty. They were all quite mediocre by human standards. I wonder, now, just how awful “dog food” must be, that these were so cheerfully anticipated, like a child greets a cookie.
My stories about Echo inspired my friend, Sherri, to name one of her miniature show poodles, “Echo.”
The soulful, wistful pup in the featured image is Bruno. He lives with my sister-in-law. I already owe his feline siblings modeling fees. Might as well dip into the Milk Bones again…