Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rocky Run Regulars: Cheyenne and Bailey

We got Max this past January. As I've mentioned in prior posts, he had very little experience with other dogs, onleash or offleash. When he met other dogs onleash, he seemed willing to try and make friends, but he had no idea how--he'd overstep some unwritten law of canine etiquette, and the other dog would growl and snap at him. Max would be wearing this chagrined look, as if to say "What did I do?", and took it very much to heart. It was all so very reminiscent of my school days....

We were walking him one evening over by the River Arts apartments, and we saw a woman with a lovely dog, a Chow Mix with long rich ginger-orange fur, and eyes of surpassing sweetness. We learned her name was Cheyenne. Her person was Norma--and we later learned she had played a very important role in the founding of the Rocky Run. But all we knew at this point, watching them sniff each other delightedly, was that Max had finally found a friend (and so had we). It didn't matter to her whether Max knew the rules or not. Cheyenne was--and is--above that kind of thing. You like her, she likes you. Never mind the niceties.

Since then, we've met Cheyenne many times, at the run, and around the neighborhood, though we can never meet her often enough. She is always happy to see us, and always hoping for treats--we gave her a few at the run early in our acquaintance, and she does not forget a past benefactor. And neither do we. I've been meaning to get the first of these two photos of her up on the blog for some time--it was on my old computer. I look into those smiling eyes, and remember the moment we met her--and found out, to our joy, that we had a dog who could accept the friendship of other dogs when offered.

Not long after we started bringing Max to the run, he made another friend--as lovely and sociable as Cheyenne, but otherwise as different as one could imagine. Bailey is a Miniature Pinscher, but not of the black and tan variety, and has been allowed to keep his tail and ears in their original state--and it's hard for me to say why anyone would think they were capable of improving on that state.

Bailey is one of the great instigators of the run--he is always ready to play, and seems to have no conception that he's any smaller than any other dog. This can be a problem at times, because he's also ready to fight any dog he doesn't like. Though he is affable to a fault with most dogs, he will, for no discernible reason, take a disliking to some new dog--invariably MUCH larger than himself--and Mary, his person, will have to restrain him.

When he met Tank, the 200+ pound American Mastiff, who thankfully doesn't have a mean bone in his whole enormous body, Bailey seemed ready to do battle. But thankfully, he usually just wants to play. And play. And play. I don't think a small dog run would ever be big enough for Bailey, and he clearly never heard the expression "Go pick on someone your own size"--or if he's heard it, he clearly didn't understand it.

Bailey seems fascinated with Max, and is always trying to lure him into play. Max, rarely inclined to frisk with other dogs, is very indulgent with Bailey, and cheerfully pays no mind when Bailey rears up and plants two tiny paws on his flank. He grins happily as Bailey seems to suckle on his--um--how do I put this delicately? Oh hell, Bailey is always licking Max's penis. Well, the sheath his penis is in. He's not the only little dog who does this with Max. What the hell does that mean, anyway? Why does Max seem oddly pleased when little dogs do it, and bothered when larger dogs do it? It cannot possibly have the same significance for them as it does for us, but it must mean something. Maybe it just tastes good? Maybe I better let this go for now.

One thing I've always admired about Mary is the way she lets Bailey be Bailey--while never once taking her eyes off him. She's unbothered when he is wrestling with his friend Rio, the Australian Shepherd, even when he's pinning Bailey to the ground--she knows Rio would never hurt Bailey, and that Bailey is in fact having a lovely time. She always pays close attention when Bailey meets a new dog at the run, and is ready to intervene at the first sign of trouble. To have such a feisty fearless little dog must be a delight--and a constant source of concern. But I'd imagine the delight outweighs the concern by quite a large margin.

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