Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Murdoch? Is that you?

Morgan’s sister and her husband have a gigantic Doberman Pinscher. His name is Larsson and he’s the size of a small horse with long muscular legs that let him leap up a flight of six stairs in a single bound.

As we enter their house, Larsson explodes up the steps towards us then spins and spins on the spot, filling the entryway with his long, sea lion-like body. His hair is super-short, so slick and shiny he almost shimmers as he spins. I just stand back and watch.

If it weren’t for my experience with Murdoch and his huge jaw and giant blocky head and over-exuberance for life, I think this dog might intimidate me, but Murdoch prepared me for these situations (and insisted I read countless books on dog training). So I wait, and laugh, because what I see in Larsson is a bigger version of Murdoch, just more hyper – which I really never thought was possible.

His feet, a rich chestnut brown that fades about mid-leg to black, thump and stomp as he propels himself in circles, head down, soft silky ears flapping on either side of his slim, bony head. His tail, about the length of a sausage link, wiggles back and forth.

When he slows down enough for me to get his attention, I tell him to sit and then run my hand over the top of his smooth head. I cup his velvety brown chin in my hand and tell him he’s a good boy. I leave my toque and mitts at the front door and climb another short flight of stairs to the living room. My toque is not my favourite, I had to leave that one behind after Murdoch got a hold of it for the hundredth time.

He snatched it from the basket I keep at the top of the kitchen stairs as I ushered him back to his side of the baby gate. He clattered down the stairs with it clutched between his teeth. Even though he hasn’t actually destroyed anything in a long time, preferring instead to parade around with stuff in his mouth, I can’t turn my back on the possibility he may decide to shred his latest catch, so I followed, trying not to make it a big deal, trying to keep that tone out of my voice that signals to him this could be the start of a really great game as I say, “Uh-uh Murdoch, that’s mine.”

He padded quickly across the space from the bottom of the stairs to the front door, flicking a couple of sideways glances my way from eyes that were twice their normal size. My green toque, my favourite toque, the fleecy, warmest one I wear all the time, stuck out in small crushed folds from between his lips on either side of his giant square jaw. I imagined it inside his mouth, all bunched up and slowly absorbing every last drop of slobber.

I reached out and grabbed a corner of the toque, “Mine,” I said firmly and felt his hold loosen. Clearly he wasn’t in the mood for a good fight that day and in a moment had spit the toque out in my hand. I held it up between my thumb and forefinger, wet and glistening with new globs of slobber almost artfully splattered across the fabric. Older, dried slobber shimmered through from beneath. I didn’t have time to wash it so I wore another toque on our trip to visit family, a striped one of pinks and pale blues and grays.

We sat in the living room of Morgan’s sisters house admiring our new nephew when Larsson clip-clopped past with a small green toy cup in his mouth. I glanced up to see him flick his eyes in our direction and recognized Murdoch in that sly, yet bratty expression. He saw me looking at him and changed course to trace out a big circle around the perimeter of the room before the cup was taken away from him.

A few minutes later he appeared again, his long legs striding with great purpose along the same path, this time with a super-hero action figure clamped in his long jaw.

I should have seen it coming, but it never crossed my mind until much later when Morgan called to me in another room over the sound of Larsson’s feet marching along his well-worn path, “He’s got your toque.”

Of course he does.

I got it away from him by offering up a potato chip in exchange. He tiptoed hesitatingly towards me and carefully laid the toque at my feet. “Thanks a lot Larsson,” I said, picking it up and wiping it off on my jeans. “It’s like I never left home.”


  1. Thanks for following my blog. I love your writing - your dogs sound great. I have dog-envy! We don't have one but the whole family wants one very badly. But we live in a city - there are lovely places to walk nearby; it's an added commitment however. We have two cats which are lovely, though.

  2. Hi Kate! Welcome to my crazy world of dogs! They are fantastic, but you're right it is a commitment, especially when you have a dog such as Murdoch pushing his weight around - he's a bit of a goof.
    We also have two cats, but at least one of them thinks she's a dog.