Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Airedale and the Schnoodle

This is one of those days when one generation passes away and another begins. Almost twelve years ago I bought my son the Airedale that he named Trigger. He helped me move into my San Jacinto house so I did that for him. But earlier today my son called to say that the vet held out no hope for Trigger. His body had been weakened by seizures and an infection of an undetermined nature. This was to be the end of this dog my son boasted about for all the years since he got him -- Trigger, who could run down a rabbit or face off a pack of Mastiffs -- Trigger, who could ferociously keep out intruders -- Trigger, who could emit one bark and silence all the other dogs for miles around -- Trigger is now gone.

Susan, in her own illness, is still sleeping. She doesn't know yet about Trigger. If she wakes and thinks about any dog it is about the mixed-breed Schnoodle she wants -- it is seven-weeks old -- one half Miniature Poodle, and one half Miniature Schnauzer.

It was Susan who made the decision to get a Rhodesian Ridgeback in the early 80s. This was her ideal breed and she never wavered about wanting no other breed until recently. Her niece and her sister both have lapdogs, and after seeing these little dogs up close over the last few years she became accustomed to the idea. Maybe she could no longer go on outings with Rhodesian Ridgebacks, but perhaps she could have her own little lapdog -- a little being to keep her company while the rest of us were down at the river chasing rabbits and coyotes. So Susan and I began negotiating -- as we always do when it comes time to a new dog.

I liked the idea of her having a lapdog, but knowing her health might one day cause her to ask me to take care of it, I needed it to be somewhat competent. A "purse-dog" wouldn't do. If it would occasionally or permanently be in my care, it needed to be able to go on long walks with the Ridgeback girls and me. It didn't need to fend off feral dogs or coyotes necessarily, but it needed to be able to walk the long distances we walk at the river, and on farm roads late at night when the weather is hot.

So Susan discovered the Schnoodle. Years ago I had a Miniature Poodle that I took on hikes and long walks. And while I've never owned a Miniature Schnauzer, I've known people who did -- people who had respect for them as "real dogs" and not merely "lap dogs." But they were lap-dogs as well. Perhaps any dog will be unless it is too big to fit on a lap. So Susan and I had our compromise . . . perhaps. She said she needed to sleep on the idea one more time. Maybe a puppy is more responsibility than she wants to take on. She'll let me know when she wakes up.  Will she be able to say no to this?


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