Lulu’s tongue was lolling out of her big grinning mouth as we cut through the morning humidity, about half way through our five mile walk. I tilted back my head and pulled the thick morning air through my nose, smelling the slight crispness around the edges, that signified the approaching fall. I loved the smell of summer and fall mixing as New England summers came to an end.

Loud panting brought me back to the moment, and feeling a pull to my left, I looked down to see Lu heading off road, head down, pulling me through the still green, fire bushes. A few more weeks and the leaves would be blazing with color. I stumbled forward, and made a half ass attempt to pull Lu back out of the bushes, but she smelled the creek, and lowered her flat block head, pulling hard against her small prong collar. She had set her mind and eyes on the cold water at the bottom of the hill, and I threw up my arms to block the branches as we plunged towards the creek.

Lu reached the water and plunged her muzzle into the cold, swiftly running little creek, pulling her head out quickly and shaking it hard. I stood watching as she lapped greedily at the water – and then she froze, staring straight ahead across the small, dark creek. I looked up and froze as well. An enormous, muscular dog was standing staring at us about 20 feet away. He was larger than any pit bull I had ever seen, and I could see every muscle in his body bunching as he looked from me to Lu, until his eyes locked on Lu’s.

I looked down to see Lu crouched just in front of me in the edge of the water. As I watched, she slowly lowered her small head, and let out a guttural snarl that sounded like nothing I had ever heard come from her. Her whole body trembled, and as she crouched even lower, I tightened the leash, not sure if she was going to attack or flee.

I looked towards the other dog. He stood motionless, staring intensely at her, and then slowly leaned forward taking one tentative step towards the edge of the water. Lu suddenly plunged forward snarling fiercely, snapping her jaws and clearly warning off this threat. She had always been aggressive towards other dogs, but had never behaved this way. I began to back up, gently saying her name in a low voice. She glanced back quickly, and began turning towards me very slowly to follow. The collarless black behemoth took another step, and Lulu let out a shrill scream, plunging towards him again. I just kept slowly backing away.

Suddenly, I heard a man’s deep bellow, and looked across the water to see a man step out onto his porch, behind the house across the creek. The dog turned towards him, glancing back repeatedly as he slowly made his way back to his own yard. The man waved briefly, opening a screen door for his scarey looking black horse to enter.

I felt the tension drain from my body as Lu quickly moved past me and up the hill back towards the road. She had no desire to hang around for a repeat appearance, and I broke into a quick jog as she trotted quickly up the hill. Reaching the top of the hill, I ducked under the last fire bush branches, glancing up to see Lu staring down the hill, still trembling from the adrenaline that was draining from her muscles.

We still had another 2.5 miles to complete, and Lu lived and breathed in anticipation of her walks, but with a quick accusatory glance my way, she turned and headed back the way we had come. That one look told me not to dilly dally, but to get my ass in gear, because we were going home where it was safe, and there were no black demons hiding in the shadows.

Battle Under the Bush



Lu usually waited for me in the mud room, but today I caught the swish of a tail through the office doorway as I opened the outside door.  I came up up the two stairs and into my brightly lit office, to spot Lulu sitting with her back to me, staring out the french door.

Lu barely glanced over her shoulder towards me, and as I got closer I saw her whole body trembling.  This usually indicated she had spent at least an hour watching some sort of furry, forest critter on our porch.  She had already ripped loose at least 3, two by fours from the fence surrounding the propane tank where the chipmunks lived beside the brick patio.  It must be pure torture for her to tensely watch small creatures darting across her yard, tramping through her territory.

I looked out and saw nothing, so held her back as I opened the door.  If I let her out too quickly, she would plunge through the screen door, and I was getting tired of constantly having to repair the fragile aluminum bound screen.

After much shoving and grunting, Lu bolted through the doorway, veering right and heading towards the fenceline at a dead sprint.  Something had her locked and loaded, and I headed out to sit in the grass and watch as she sprinted the perimeter of the yard, plunging into the air as she flushed birds, and leaping high in spastic reactions as she disturbed some small groud dwelling creature.  She radiated energy and joy as she reacted to the life around her.

She spotted me sitting in the grass, and with eyes squinted, ears back flat, and a huge grin on her flat head, she sprinted straight at me, twirling at the last minute to body slam me sideways.  I wrapped my arms around her as she slid into me, and we rolled over in the grass wrestling like fiends.  She leaped away, butt waggling in the air, daring me to catch her, but I just sat there laughing gently, talking to her softly, encouraging her to calm down.  She is a powerful animal, so I try to not to encourage too much rough housing.

Suddenly her head shot around, and I looked up to see a small dark shape heading across the lower end of the yard.  I reached out to grab Lu, but she was off like a streak, and as I watched the dark furry shape disappear in the large mass of bushes at the back of the property, I also watched as a larger white shape hurled itself into the same bushes with a howl of pure rage.  This must has been what she has watched all day, a very large ground hog – and now all that pent up frustration and energy was focused on destroying the intruder.

We had not had ground hogs in our yard for several years – basically since we had introduced dogs to the yard, but somehow this very large ground hog had found a way to burrow into our well secured, double fenced property.  I suspected there were old tunnels around the bushes because this is where we had seen them, and Lulu was always digging her trenches back there.

I jumped up and took off for the bushes.  Were ground hogs vicious?  Could they hurt a dog or cause rabies?  Did they carry other diseases?  All of these questions raced through my head as Lulu thrashed screaming through the bushes, and I peered in looking for a way to grab her and pull her out.

Suddenly, Lu leaped from the bushes holding the struggling ground hog in her jaws, whipping her powerful neck form side to side, guttural snarls rolling from her small muscular body.  This was not my dog.  This was an animal completely driven by a desire to kill, muscles rippling across her body as she used all of her power to kill the animal that had dared to intrude into her territory.  I backed up and watched as she pinned it to the ground, deep grumbles receding as the struggles of the ground hog slowed.  There was nothing I could do at that point.  The ground hog’s life was quickly coming to an end.

Lu raised her head to look at me.  Her face was still contorted into an expression of rage, blood streaking her jaws.  She glowered towards me, lowering her head, and I watched as her facial muscles loosened, jaws parting so her longue pink tongue could loll out while she sucked in cooling airs to squelch her fire.  I squatted down and gently called her.  I could see blood on her neck, but did not know if it was from her or the animal she had killed.  She growled deeply and nudged the ground hog with her nose, but it did not move – just rolled limply in the grass before settling back, dead.

Lulu walked slowly towards me until she reached me, butting her head into my chest and breathing hard.  I could see where her neck was cut, so I stood and headed for the house.  Lu turned and looked back towards her kill, then turned and quickly followed me towards the house.

I cleaned and treated the small superficial cut, and left her inside as I went back to retrieve yet another carcass for the animal graveyard across the street.  I’ve had dogs all my life, mostly retrievers.  I’ve always watched these domestic animals and wondered how they would survive without people.  With Lu I’ve never had any doubts about her ability to survive, and sometimes I even wonder how she survives with me, having to always contain the instincts and desires that are just below the surface – that completely overwhelm any domestic impulses at the first opportunity.  It must be hard to constantly want to hurl yourself savagely at life, and have everything constantly snapped back by barriers and limits.

Precious Princess Killed a Snake

Snake Wait 072714

The title on this blog is the text I got at work today – “Your precious princess killed a snake.”  All warm blooded mammals have been systematically removed from the yard, so I guess she is moving on to the cold blooded ones.

Lulu had of course been separated from the snake carcass, so I arrived home to find her eagerly waiting next to the plastic bag at the back door.  I was charged with removing the snake.

I opened the door, and Lulu flew across the yard, literally diving into the carcass as if she was sliding into home base.  I screamed no as she dropped and rolled on her kill, legs pinwheeling rapidly in pure bliss.  I raced forward, arriving just as she jumped up, grabbed the snake, and sprinted off through the grass.  I moaned and cursed, noting her newly washed fur dark with snake blood.  Shouldn’t the snake have been dead long enough for it’s blood to congeal?!

We played chase for about 15 minutes.  I could tell she was having great fun – leaping ahead, dropping and rolling, and then snatching up her snake to race away and repeat again.  I shamefully say I resorted to throwing rocks at her.  I had become desperate to get that nasty snake carcass away from my precious princess.

I finally flung myself down on a rock wall and just cursed at her.  I no longer cared what the neighbors thought.  I had seen them peeking through bushes as I ran screaming around the yard, hurling obscenities at my little dog.  They were fairly used to it at this point, although I’m sure they still considered it great entertainment.

Finally, I was rescued by a poor unsuspecting carpenter bee.  It flew just over Lulu’s head, and she flung the snake carcass aside as she launched 35 pounds of muscle four feet into the air.  The chase was on, and I now found myself laughing out loud as the bee zigzagged across the yard while my small white pit bull slung herself from side to side in pursuit.  Thank god she was so reactive.

Bunny Heaven



Sometimes, I forget that my snugly, block headed baby is a dog driven by her heritage.  Today was one of those days I was reminded.

I leaned over to check the planter I was watering.  I usually watered until the soil was drenched and water seeped from the bottom of the pot.  I don’t have a green thumb, but I enjoy creating my planters, and purchasing the numerous flowers and plants I need for the brief three months of growing season.  It is one of the only artistic moments I enjoy.

Lulu was out roaming our fenced  in half acre yard, and from the corner of my eye I caught a white flash speed across the grass and into the tree line.  I did not look up.  It takes little to no movement to activate her prey drive.  A light breeze amidst the leaves is enough to send her racing, with head and nose held high.

I continued to admire my brief flash of artistry, pausing as I felt her presence behind me.  I looked about five feet to my left, and gasped at the small animal lying in the grass below her broad smiling face.  Lying limply in the grass was a small adolescent rabbit.

I stepped towards Lu as she slowly backed away panting.  She was clearly offering me her kill, and it took everything I had not to scream NO at her.  I looked up at that wide, happy grin.  She was so pleased with herself.  She had killed and provided.  Hundreds of years of instinct had led her to this moment, and I could see the pure joy in her twinkling eyes.

I knelt slowly and touched the still warm little body.  There wasn’t a mark on the rabbit, but I had watched her dispatch other small animals with a quick shake of her powerful neck.  At least it had probably not suffered.

I love Lulu.  She is one of the most affectionate dogs I’ve ever owned.  She is also one of the most powerful, reactive dogs I’ve owned.  Sometimes I forget she is driven by pure instinct – direct descendant of a long line of hunters.  In the blink of an eye, that warm brown gaze is brushed aside by the ancestral forces that drive her, and I once again see the animal that dominates her actions.

Early Morning Drenching

Warm & Snug

Warm & Snug

I looked at the thermometer by the door.  It was pitch black outside, and the tiny little red line hovered on 28 degrees.  Lulu was dancing in place as I opened the door to begin our walk – her eyes bright with “walking delight” – our version of the Sky Rockets song.  I could walk her at 10PM or 4AM, the response and joy were always the same.

In this case, it was 4AM.  I have begun a new job with an hour commute, so my days begin very early now.  They begin that early for Lu.  I’ve always felt I have a commitment to her.  She has a sitter that let’s her out at lunch, but I could not imagine living a life stuck in a house all day, so I walk her early, and getting home late, she usually gets another pitch black walk at night.  The exercise is good for both of us.  I’m the lightest I’ve been since youth, and she is happy and settled.

I plunged out the door and immediately begin jogging, attempting to build heat fast in the frosty morning air.  Lulu trotted ahead, her head telescoping right to left – always on the hunt.  I guess she can see things I cannot, and as we passed a mass of brush close to the side of the road, she leapt into it and seized a small mouse.  I yelled, she dropped, and we continued along our route.

I felt the first raindrop, but continued on down the asphalt, breath rising from my head and in front of my feet.  A light mist was fine as long as we kept moving quickly.  Suddenly, the bucket tipped, and it felt as if someone had literally ripped open the heavens.  We were about a mile out, and we both turned as one and begin sprinting with our heads down.

Lulu HATES the rain, and as I gained speed I was abruptly jerked to a stop as Lulu shook and tried to charge under a low hanging tree.  She wanted out of the rain.  I yelled and drug her out, and we begin sprinting again.  Several seconds later, I was almost jerked off my feet again as she shook, and then looked around frantically for some type of refuge.  In frustration, I grabbed my 35 pound dig, heaved her over my shoulder, and began a “fast walk” back towards the house.

Typically, she squirms violently when lifted off the ground, but this time she huddled against me and whimpered.  We made it maybe 200 yards before I had to put her down.  At this point I was dripping wet, and beginning to chill, so I moved out into the middle of the road, away from tempting bushes, and ran fast.

A few minutes later, Lu spotted the driveway, and took off like a streak.  We turned onto the dirt road, sloshing through freezing puddles as we headed for the house.  I came through the door of the mud room, as Lulu waited shivering for me to towel her dry.  The shivering burnt as much energy as the run, so I knew she would sleep well until her sitter arrived for the day.

I left the shower and walked across the kitchen to Lu’s bed.  She was sound asleep.  It really is amazing what we do for our canine companions happiness.