This be the place of Cthulu, squid-like scourge of the sea.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Steele nose, a brindle tiger dog

It was the summer of 2014, maybe 13, when my father asked me to drive down to Alexandria to pick up a pupper who'd become a companion for the King of beds, Padre.

Willingly obliged, cause I wasn't doing anything else right then. Steele was being rehomed, and had been taken/given back to the greyhound adoption agency because he had a knack for being a runner. If you'd let him outside, off leash, he was gonna jettison off and out near top speed like a greyhound would love to do.

Dadderino and I agree that because he wouldd run, his keepers would probably punish him harshly. Upon meeting Steele you'll notice a few predominant scars across the body. There's maybe a 1/4 inch rise on his snout that for some reason didn't flatten out, just forward of his right hip and up about 30 degrees he's got this 1.5 inch scar that's kind of bowling pin shaped, on his left side on his high ribs there's a another dark mark devoid of fur, and he's got a few patches on his chest of similar character.

That's unknown, because greyhounds are raised from weening to be racers and not dogs, so it's entirely plausible some of those scars were from his kennel days, but it doesn't matter.

He was a little at odds with Padre upon arriving, but having another dog to hang out with probably helped him absorb into the household easier. There are two leather couches in the living room, one two part love seat and a three section couch. Padre'd staked out the love seat, and within days Steele began squatting on the sofa. 

Those first few months I'd always leash him before ever opening a door, but not to padre who understood the pattern of hanging out on the porch and catching a fresh breath before attaching the lead to his collar. As Steele grew accustomed, and my trust in him had built, we got to the point where you could do the same thing and we'd all stand outside and weave circles around me as the fresh excitement to walk got out their minds.

Dogs make noises, some noises most of the time, bit greyhounds are different as a result of being race animals. If you can get one excited, talk about walks, they'll get excited and let out a holler or a grunt or some mixture between that and a whinny.

Bless his heart, if you talk him up the right way or make him weight longer than he likes to, Steele will stand up on two legs to show how eager he is to be trotting down the sidewalk. He's a pretty sizeable mutt.

Not many people assume he weighs 75 pounds, but if you pick him up you know instantly. He's a pretty tall dog, and comes up to at least three feet standing on four legs. My favorite way to introduce people to him used to be picking him up and spinning back and forth left and right at a slow roll. You know how a chicken head stays in one spot if you're holding the body and move it directionally? Well Steele changes his head direction depending on how you spin, and going the other way makes him turn his neck and look that way too. 

He's a pretty solemn pupper. Real quiet, likes to lay down in odd places, and think about his finances both local and abroad. I love to lay down next to him, or any dog, and kind of look him in the eyes and see how long he'll let me stare at him. His soft brown eyes are so shallow with depth. Toward the edges they're a little more gold, and they're pools of beauty surrounded by a white sclera. After one such time, he kind of grunted at me, to which I mimicked the sound back his way. We exchanged noises a good 5 or 6 times before he picked his head up and pointed it away from me.

At the beginning, he'd walk into the kitchen when nobody was there to eat cat food but leaving a baby gate there and clapping at him while he eat feline food a few times let him learn how the kitchen wasn't his place to hang out.

If I could walk Steele solo forever it would totally happen, he's just so if fun to be alone with. Ordinarily he will walk on the left side of a sidewalk giving me ample space for the right. Moving far right and ahead to sniff a tree, I keep walking because the leashes are 15 foot leads, and he'll always catch up around behind you to the left and wrap you with the lead. He's a careful thinker, and you can see him pondering routes to walk when we get to a corner that goes straight or turns.

There's something odd about his posture that I've never seen in the other 3 greyhounds we've loved or fostered, and that's that he keeps his head up high. Sight hounds are long necked, big eyed, poor smelling monsters, but Steele always keeps his head up and pointed like somebody of refined tastes wearing a starched collar. He's doesn't have good running or jogging stamina, I think because his head is always right inches higher than it needs to be up and looking forward. All the others kept their heads pointed forward, from the shoulders out and ahead from their bodies but this guy holds his straight up like an ostrich.

The bastard sniffs out food and I've had to pull many a chicken bone from his eager jaws. With their long narrow snouts, it's easy to wrap your hand around it and insert some fingers to convince him to drop the breast or thigh bones haha.

No idea how big a dog's bladder is, but he starts off strong peeing on everything. Trees, light posts, sign posts, fire hydrants, cars that are so far down the driveway their bumper's extend over the sidewalk, and onto a driveway trying to hit the bumper of a truck that's too tall for him to reach.

In the rainy season, he's an avid puddle drinker. Most dogs have some sort of funk to their breath, some dogs even have bad breath, but it's very cool that Steele's is neutral. We get face to face at least thrice a week and I never get scared away from an odor creeping out of his mouth.

He's got this weird fetish about where he poops, and it's most often in a bush, next to one, beside and at the base of a tree, inside tall grasses or in a perennial cluster. I often get everything out in one go,  but Steele's always been a two poop shoot kind of guy. Two can easily be three. I always want to and seldom succeed in taking a pic of him hunched over bush hiding his load, or him squatted back at a tree looking straight out away from it while pondering dreams of a beach somewhere. He's a quirky kind of weird, and I love it.

We haven't done this a lot recently due to the heat but it's fun to get down on his level, wrap both arms around him and just hug him for a while. I read somewhere that most dogs aren't big fans of being hugged, but Steele's not most dogs. After about thirty seconds he starts to lean on you always adding more weight until he's trying to push us over and I'm the thing holding us up. These exchanges are typically about three minutes, but they can go up to seven minutes until we end it and go back about our business.

Steele's pretty quirky and reserved. With nothing better to do, he likes standing in one spot looking at you or maybe through you just lost in his head. He doesn't come when you call, and most of the time will avoid you just because you showed interest. He's a real hoot.

We spend a lot of time hanging out in the same area, me and him. Every night and some of the day  whenever I'm not doing shit but hanging out in bed. Years ago I took this doggy bed we had had since padre came through, and it was sitting at the edge of the living room hardly being utilized. One day I picked it up and placed it in my room, and it garnered a little extra foot traffic my way.

I'd had this older red and Persian frilled with gold thread comforter that ended up my way. It was winter, and I'd kept it on the foot of my bed just to keep these toesies warm. As spring came and things warmed up, the toe warmer blanket became unnecessary. Instead of washing it and stowing it away, it ended up on top of that doggy bed and Steele was smitten. Due to a misfortune, my dad invited Padre into his bed some day and spent the next three years regretting ever doing it. That was his perch, and the red blanket on a foam bed on the floor of my room is Steele's. He's a lazy poop, and will spend hours basking on the thing, kick it off onto the carpet and then lay on it off his bed all content like his world couldn't be better.

Sometimes I'll take that skewn blanket, pull it out from under him to give it a folder-ooni and place back rectangularly on top of that bed. When that happens, he stands up and walks 4 feet away to turn around and look at me with this shocked expression, like 'why would you do such a thing.' After throwing it back down and stepping out of his way, he will tip toe on over back to his perch with glee, circle three times, then lay down begrudgingly to forget it ever happened.

It's his safe space, and whenever he's scared or frightened that's where he recovers. Right now it's the third of July, and the last couple of days there have been fireworks intermittently so he'd be in that room, on top a blanket, cowering with his mouth open and letting saliva escape out onto ole redderoo. No animals are fans of big bangs, but since grey hounds are trained to race and catch Rusty the Rabbit at the sound of a gunshot firing, I wonder if, he's a little PTSD'd over being a young dog forced to run competitively when a shot was fired. Tomorrow's the fourth, and of nothing comes up I'll probably be hanging out in bed reading a book with some white noise hoping he feels safe while shots, booms, and explosions rattle outside that window all up and down the streets. 

Of the three dogs we've had, we were never told Steele's full racing name. You can google Padre of Ruckus or WS Sweet Pea and find their pedigree, from what line of dogs they originated, and even their race records, but that never happened with Steele despite the occasional search.