Mason and Me
My dog Mason isn’t deaf. His ears work just fine when he needs them. Like in the woods when they point to the clouds while his nose sweeps the grass and rattles like a muffler. He's a sight to see, bouncing along, content with the smells and the breeze.
It’s only when the sniffing stops that trouble lurks. When he bolts upright and cocks his head, his ears up and twitching, turning towards the rustling or crinkling or whatever his selective radar picks up on, that's when it's go time.
Squirrels are his favorite, but cats, rabbits, moles, or even raccoons and possums will do in a pinch. Oh, and deer, not sure how that one ends for Mason, but he loves the chase.
Mason also hears the ambulance sirens, because he’ll drop whatever he he’s doing (sniffing poop, peeing on flowers, being a menace), and howl like a lunatic. Kind of embarrassing when other people are around. My point is that the dog can hear. Maybe he just has trouble with English.
He isn’t dumb either. He just doesn’t see the point in tricks. My wife has worked with him relentlessly, and there are subtle signs of a normal dog emerging. But still, if it doesn’t benefit him, he’s not doing it. He’s kind of selfish like that.
Right at 40 pounds, the dog is an exhibit of agility and quickness that rivals the wild animals on the Discovery Channel. He could win competitions if he cared.
Instead he looks at me like I'm an idiot with my useless commands, his ice blue eyes full of mischief and his bubble gum tongue dangling. If I’m lucky, he’ll cock his head side to side, maybe gripe and paw at the treat in my hand, sometimes crouching or barking his displeasure, his floppy ears straightened to points, perking up when I said the word “walk”, only confirming what I already know.
I take him on the trails every day to run, because destruction awaits if I don't. For all of you cross trainers, fitness freaks and the like, get a husky. The more neurotic, the better. He tugs me along with the torque of a sled dog—which he kind of is, until I let him run free, then he goes hog wild, loping along and freeing himself of the pent up energy he’s built up while sleeping in our bed all day. This routine worked fine until that day she came along.
No Mason, No!
This is how it happened. And yes, I know that I’m at fault here. Anyway, I was with Mason on the trails when we saw a lady (or witch) speed walking around the bend with two little ankle biters on the bike path. I turned to Mason in hopes that he hadn’t noticed, but he was locked in and hawking the scene. Those ears were touching the sky and he was all systems go.
“Here Mason,” I said in a low whisper, hoping to coax him back the leash dangling around my neck. The lady chugged along, arms pumping at her side with her little dogs and completely unaware that she was being stalked by a maniac.
“Mason!” I called again. I took a step towards him and he bolted, tearing off towards the lady leaving a gray gravel cloud in his wake.
“Mason!” I gave chase. But he was a galloping blur, swooping in on the old battle axe and her dogs just as gentle as a jackhammer. I was running and calling him when the lady jerked one of her dogs into the air like a yo-yo.
“Get your dog! Get your dog!”
I froze, more terrified by her squawking than by Mason’s behavior.
“It’s okay, he just wants to say hello. Come on Mason!”
“Get your dog!” She clutched the dog that had been jerked clean, a little napoleon sort, snapping and snarling from her arms. Mason jumped up—like he does with the squirrels—putting two Virginia clay reddened paws on her shirt in the process.
“Mason down!” I swiped for his collar but he ducked, crouching and weaving around the hysterical woman while chasing the unsecured dog between legs and leash. By now she had Napoleon in the headlock, but he managed to lunge and his snapping jaws came only a few inches from my ear. Meanwhile Mason took the opportunity to really get to know the dog at her feet, planting his nose firmly into its rear.
We continued around the woman more times than I’d like to remember. With Mason sniffing the dog on the ground and the woman shrieking and me tangled in the middle of it all. She somehow managed to hang on to her retractable leashes, winding and clicking as we fumbled after the dogs. Morning joggers stopped, shielding the sun from their eyes, pointing and laughing at the show right there on the trails.
And Mason didn’t’ disappoint. He danced and barked and had a ball with the two irritable dogs. By the time I got the leash hooked to his collar, my legs were bound to the woman in the twists and tangles of knotted leash cords. I tried to help but she was spitting mad, her face balled up into its own knot of anger.
“You should have that dog on a leash. There are leash laws in the city!”
“I do, I just let him off a minute ago," I said shaking the leash in my fist.Her dogs continued with their barking and snarling as I pulled Mason away.
“I’m really sorry.”
“Sorry isn’t going to cut it!” she said, pointing to Mason’s collar. “I know where you live.”
I took Mason home. He pranced along with a smirk on his face and trouble in his eyes. I wasn’t concerned. No harm, no foul and all. We crossed the creek and marched towards our house and I convinced myself that the lady was just upset, and possibly crazy. Surely nothing would come of it. I mean what was she going to do? Call the police? Go down to the station and report me for violating Lynchburg City ordinance, the one that prohibits the running of a dog without a leash? The last thing on my mind is getting served a warrant for a real live court date.
For my dog.
Coming soon, Mason's Day in Court...
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