One morning last May, a female Black Lab wandered up to the house and started hanging around. Although she wasn’t wearing a collar, she was fat, well-kept, house-trained and obviously belonged to someone. She was a good dog and I knew her owner would be looking for her, so I decided to let her stay until we could reunite her with her people. Over the next few days, the kids and I made countless “Lost Dog” signs and flyers that we plastered on every tree, stop sign, telephone pole and convenience store window within a five-mile radius of the house. After more than a month without a single phone call, it appeared that “Fat Black” was going to be the newest addition to the herd at the Heavy D Ranch. Her true owners weren’t looking for her, which really surprised me. She was sweet, gentle, got along in with the other dogs and just loved playing with the kids. I didn’t really want another 100 lb. dog to feed, but there was no way I was going to take her to the pound.
Summer came and summer went, but Fat Black remained. She lived with me until one day in September when some friends were at the house visiting. Tommy, Gina and their two kids couldn’t believe that such a good dog had just wondered up, and then commented on how they’d always wanted a Lab. Since they liked the dog and would give her a good home, I asked if they wanted to keep her. I told them that if things didn't work out, they could always bring her back. After a myriad of promises from the kids and a short discussion between the parents, they agreed to take her home. We loaded Fat Black into their truck and off she went to her new, permanent home…
Everyone was living happily ever after, or so I thought, until about a month ago when I ran into Gina and asked how Fat Black was doing. She shook her head, started laughing and proceeded to tell me that the dog was driving them crazy. Gina said that Fat Black had started keeping them up all night barking, wouldn’t behave in the house and was constantly trying to dig her way out of their backyard. She jokingly said that Tommy was fed up with the dog and was ready to get rid of her. I’d never had any trouble with Fat Black and was surprised that she was giving them a hard time. Again, Gina jokingly said that I shouldn’t be surprised if I heard some barking one night and Fat Black miraculously appeared at my door.
The next afternoon I got a call from Tommy. When I saw his number on the caller ID, I decided to prick him around a bit. I answered the phone using my best generic female operator's voice and said, “Parker County Animal Shelter – how may I direct your call?”
“I need to speak to the euthanasia department please…” he said.
I started laughing, but soon realized that Tommy wasn’t. He proceeded to tell me that he was done with Fat Black and was going to take her to the pound and see if they could find her a new home. Unlike his wife a day earlier, there was no joking tone in his voice; he was dead serious. He said that the dog wouldn’t shut up at night, she had become completely unruly wouldn’t behave in the house, had broken down the stockade fence in their backyard, chewed up their patio furniture and torn all the window screens and the screen door off the back of their house. Tommy was genuinely pissed off and said that he just couldn’t deal with Fat Black’s bullshit anymore.
Well, you guessed it... Rather than let him take the dog to the pound, I told him to bring her back to me and that I’d keep her.
When Fat Black arrived that evening, there were no long, emotional goodbyes, no tears and Tommy and Gina never looked back as they jumped in the truck and sped down the caliche road away from the house. Through the cloud of dust they left behind, I swear that I saw them high-five and heard them laughing as they hauled ass away. It was as if they had taken Fat Black on the proverbial “long ride out into the country”, only there was no guilt attached when they let her out and drove away. I just didn’t get it; maybe they didn’t play with her, maybe they just kept her caged up in the yard and she was miserable, or maybe they never really wanted the dog in the first place… Whatever the reason, Fat Black was obviously glad to be “home” and I was glad to have her back.
Fat Black and my other three dogs were all out in the yard getting re-acquainted, so I decided to go back in the house and get a drink. At the very instant I cracked open the front door, I was steamrolled by a runaway black freight train from hell. Fat Black violently rammed her head against the partially open door, knocking it out of my hand, and ran at a dead sprint through the living room towards the kitchen. After almost being knocked to the ground by the speeding 100-pound behemoth, I regained my balance just in time to see her launch herself through the air and execute a perfect form-tackle on the garbage can in the middle of the kitchen. I doubt that Fat Black could hear my yelling over the clanging of empty Dr. Pepper cans as they bounced across the floor, but she knew I was pissed. She tucked her tail between her legs, cowered down and crept over toward me in a feeble attempt to make amends for her transgression. I scolded the dog and made her sit in the corner of the kitchen while I picked up the mess she had made, then put her back outside. I then moved the location of the trashcan from underneath the butcher block in the center of the kitchen into the pantry, thereby removing Fat Black’s temptation to dumpster-dive. That worked for a couple of days, until the morning when it was raining and I left to take Walker and T.R. to school.
I let Fat Black outside to take care of her business shortly after I woke up around 6:00AM. Since it was raining that morning and she doesn’t like the rain, she was scratching at the door for me to let her back inside in no time. I don’t normally leave the dogs in the house when I’m not home, so I called for Tonto and Fat Black to follow me outside when the girls were ready to leave for school. Tonto came running, but Fat Black was hunkered down in her bed and didn’t want any part of the rain; she wasn’t moving. We were running late and I didn’t have time to drag her big ass outside, so I decided to leave both dogs in the house while I made the twenty-minute trip to school and back.
When I arrived back home and walked in the door, the first thought that crossed through my mind was that a garbage truck had been car-bombed in my living room. There was chewed up shit everywhere; fast food wrappers, cans, tin foil, pizza boxes, orange peels, paper plates, she even dragged the black plastic bag out of the can and chewed it up. All of the trash had been completely shredded and evenly disbursed over the entire area. If you’ve ever accidentally run over a newspaper with a lawnmower and blown a million bits of paper all over the lawn, you have an idea of what my living room and kitchen looked like... Except it was trash... And there was a fat, black dog rolling around in the middle of it with a Styrofoam take-out container in her mouth. The devious bitch had played possum until I left, then figured out how to open the door to the pantry and had herself a big party. She actually looked surprised when I started screaming, throwing shit at her and chasing her out of the house. As an encore to that performance, Fat Black apparently went across the pasture to my neighbor’s house, brought an entire bag of their trash back and proceeded to redecorate my yard to match the interior of the house.
Fat Black has a few other “issues” beyond her insatiable taste for trash. She thinks that my bed is actually her bed; I’m constantly battling to keep her big, hairy, shedding ass out of my room and off of my bed. I thought I had the problem solved by shutting the door any time I entered or exited my bedroom, but I learned the hard way that Fat Black was the MacGyver of dogs. She figured out how to jump up, put her feet on the handle and push down to open a door. I discovered her new trick one morning I got out of the shower and found that she had climbed onto the kitchen counter, stolen an un-opened box of Coco Puffs and eaten the entire thing. I suspected this was the case when I saw the empty box and plastic liner torn to shreds and lying on the floor in the middle of the hall. My suspicions were confirmed when I entered my bedroom through the door that she’d opened and found a giant mound of semi-digested chocolate breakfast cereal, covered in a milky-white foam, laying in the middle of my bed. She’d opened the door, got in the bed and left a massive pile of dog puke in the middle of it. I began to think she was intentionally fucking with me because that was the trifecta of insults…
In addition to vomiting in the middle of my bed, she found another creative way fuck me over again last week. As I was sitting on the sofa with my laptop screwing around on Facebook, I heard a loud crash against the door of the house. I looked up just in time to see the front door fly open and a soaking wet and muddy black dog make her triumphant entrance. It appeared as though Fat Black had gone for an evening swim in the stock tank below the house, and then followed up the swim with a relaxing and soothing roll in mud. I yelled at her to stop and get the hell out, but it was too late; she ran directly to my bedroom door and jumped on the handle. I gave chase and found the dog sprawled out on her back with all four legs in the air, joyfully rolling around in the middle of my bed. By the time I grabbed her ass and dragged her back outside, my bed looked like it had been used by Bigfoot and a grizzly bear as a mud wrestling pit.
I’ve had lots of dogs in my lifetime and have never had this much trouble training any of them. It’s not like she’s retarded or anything; in fact, she’s really smart. How many dogs do you know that can open doors? I’ve read a book on dog psychology and tried everything short of beating her ass with a golf club to curb her bad behavior, but nothing I've tried seems to phase her. My house has become a battleground in the war of wills between Fat Black and me. It’s nothing less than an epic struggle between good and the diabolical forces of evil. My last resort may be to e-mail the TV show “The Dog Whisperer” and beg for Cesar Milan to come to Weatherford and perform a canine exorcism. I keep waiting on Fat Black to sprout another two heads and assume her true identity as Cerberus the three headed demon dog.
If the old adage that “dogs are like kids” is true, then I’m afraid I've adopted a Dylan Klebold-hound.