by Steve Liddick

All I ever wanted in a dog was a big, goofy animal that sat when you told him to sit, and didn’t chase chickens. Truthfully, we didn’t want a dog at all. A house with three cats sharing space with two aging humans is already near capacity.

It started one night. You know how when it’s dark outside and you think you see something dark running across your back yard? Black on black. Kind like of Mafia hitman’s shirt and tie. Well, we didn’t know it at the time, but that was our introduction to a little Jack Russell terrier.

We didn’t see him in daylight until the next day, which was a Sunday. He had apparently escaped from somewhere. He had been running around for awhile and possibly mistreated in that time. He finally came to my wife. She brought him into the house, put him in her bathroom to separate him from the kitty herd. It was late in the day, too late to take him to the county animal shelter.

He turned out to be really friendly. He climbed up on my lap, cuddled under my arm, looked up at me with big, brown, wet, pleading eyes, and by Monday morning there was no way he was going to the animal shelter.

We took him to the vet to see if there was any ID embedded in him. There was not. What he did have was a fractured jaw, some bruises, and cooties. We figured he had gotten into a disagreement with a garbage truck or maybe got kicked by one of the equines we had at the time. We accommodated the fractured jaw by feeding him soft food. We couldn’t tell if he’d had his shots, so we brought those up to date. We had an ID chip installed and named him “Chip.” We also had him—ah—neutralized, so to speak.

To make a long story even longer, hundreds of dollars later we had repaired and taken ownership of a Jack Russell terrier with more energy than is generated by Hoover Dam. Just imagine a team of Jack Russells hitched up to a sled. They’d be a shoo-in to win Alaska’s Iditarod.

Chip occasionally gets super excited and races back and forth from one end of the house to the other. We call it “turboing” and we step aside for fear of getting bowled over by a 15-pound dynamo traveling at high speed.

Life in our household was changing dramatically.

Cats, as you may know, are relatively self-sustaining. They tend to go their own way pretty much, requiring only food, water, and an occasional lap. Otherwise we lived in peaceful harmony, making few demands of each other.

A dog is different. A Jack Russell dog is really different. He requires at least two walks a day because we can’t let him out on his own or he would be in the same dangerous situation we rescued him from.

Chip the Wonder Dawg, as I have taken to calling him, wrestles with Willow, the cat, who is the same size and weight as Chip. As far as we can tell, each is happy with the arrangement, neither fears the other, and nobody has gotten hurt.

The moral of this story is that a Jack Russell terrier is not a dog for older people. But the only way you will get him away from me is the use of lethal force.

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by Steve Liddick

Every morning I have two visitors at the door to my little backyard office.

They are Rhode Island Red roosters who have come for breakfast, which consists of about a quarter slice of bread each and a handful of scratch feed.

One is a shy guy who never gets closer to me than a few yards. The other I have named “Big Red.” I call him Big Red because he’s, . . . well, . . . big—and red. He has more personality than George Clooney and I have come to consider him part of the family.

I know you’re not supposed to have favorites among your children, but I have become very attached to the boy. He stands at my feet and takes the bread right out of my fingers. Sometimes, in his exuberance, he almost takes the finger. I don’t hold it against him. He probably doesn’t get any more food than he finds on the ground. Breakfast, after all, is the most important meal of the day.

Red and his pal are not really ours. They are the property of the handyman at the cemetery next door to our little ranch. For us it’s like having chickens without having chickens.

We are hoping that Red is considered a pet by his legal owner rather than as a future dinner because I like seeing the big galoot far more on my office porch than I ever could on a platter. Frankly, I think he is too old and tough for the menu, but the cemetery handyman next door is also old and tough, so who knows?

The prevailing thought about roosters is that they crow at dawn. Indeed they do. They also crow at midnight, 3 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and any other time that pleases them. Maybe I should have named him Pavarotti because when he belts out his song it could be heard all the way to the back row of the opera house—or, in this case—rattle our bedroom windows.

His cock-a-doodle-doo interrupt’s my wife’s sleep. Sherry wakes up if one of our cats sighs. Not me. I have been known to sleep through gunfire, explosions, howling coyotes, and cargo planes that fly low over our house.

Taking Chip the Wonder Dawg for a walk is also a challenge. Before Chip and I go out for his twice-daily walks I have to scan the area for renegade chickens. Big Red and Chip don’t like each other.

Since they are each about the same size, it’s a tossup as to who would eat whom if it came to that.


Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”