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More dogs on Main

I was adopted last week. A very nice golden retriever puppy arrived at the door and announced that he now lived at my house. It’s kind of an occupation. His list of demands has been pretty simple, but there was no mistaking the fact that he has decided that he is moving in. My opinion doesn’t seem to matter.

A neighbor had called a few days before to report seeing him running loose up at a trailhead near my house. He had a broken leg, and needed help, but nobody had been able to catch him. A couple of nights later, I sent my dog, Lizzy, out to do her evening business before going to bed. The normal routine is that she goes out the downstairs door, and stays out long enough to get a drink of water from the stream behind the house, take care of business, and then meets me at the door to the upstairs deck. She gets a dog biscuit and off to bed. Every now and then, she takes off into the woods and is gone for an hour or so. Those incidents usually involve skunks, and generally end badly.

So I feared the worst when Lizzy was out for a couple of hours. But she came home, banged on the door, and came in no worse for wear. I went to bed, and a few minutes later, it sounded like a coyote howling on the front porch. So I went down, and the golden was sitting there. But he was a little wary of coming in, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to let an unknown, sick dog in the house before going to bed. How much furniture could it eat in an hour? So I fed him, put out a dry rug for him sleep on and called it a night.

The next morning I got a good look at his leg. The front foot was just plain gone. The rest of the leg was fine, though very skinny and atrophied compared to the other one. The end of it was a kind of ugly stump, but looked like it was healing reasonably well. I checked him over, and he seemed very well mannered and happy to have some attention. Lizzy sat in the corner and growled, even though it was her idea to bring him home with her the night before. That happens.

The wound appeared to be quite old, and more or less healed up. I took him to a vet to make sure there was no infection, and look for a chip. He checked out fine-a perfectly happy, fully house broken, very affectionate, three-legged dog. Nobody can tell what happened. If he had been attacked by something else, he sure didn’t show it. The only injury was the foot. Car accident? Frostbite? He looks like a purebred, and was obviously somebody’s pet. They got through the really awful puppy stage, and lost him.

I wasn’t planning on getting another dog. In fact, I’ll confess to having given some thought to how many more years Lizzy might be around, and not being completely disappointed that we’re into the single digits. Lizzy is 100 pounds of eccentricities with a tail attached. She will only drink water in my house from the blue glass bowl. I broke that years ago, and she has never adapted to drinking from any other container in the house. Not in years. She will ignore a pan of water in the kitchen all winter, and eat snow for water, rather than drink from anything other than the blue bowl. Mud puddles, disgusting pools of water around the barns, or any bowl she finds at somebody else’s house-no problem. She used to drink from the toilet, but woke up one morning and decided that the hardwood floor in the hall is too scary. She won’t venture into that part of the house at all. If the food dish is in the wrong place, she would sooner starve than adjust.

Getting Lizzy adjusted to the new dog in the house is a challenge, but they seem to have worked it out. The new dog still has all 3 legs. He quickly learned that he can walk, or even run, on the hardwood floor without any problem at all. So when things get a little testy with Lizzy, he just moves a couple of yards down the wood floor and taunts her from safety. They play outside.

I’ve avoided naming him, because once you name a dog, it’s yours. I’ve hired some guys to help with the spring work on the ranch, and they call him the stumpy dog. It’s beginning to stick.

Tom Clyde served as Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of "More Dogs On Main Street." He has been a columnist at The Park Record for more than 20 years.


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