Monday, May 26, 2008

Pets, Just Because

A study in contrasts, cute and burly, grace and lumbering, Marlin and Gus.

Yes, this is a 36 inch archway Gus is walking through and I am kneeling, thus face high.
Both of these are intelligent animals, neither cooperates with photography in the least. The photo of Marlin is after 12 attempts spread over 4 hours, the second I would squat down with the camera she would walk up to me, evidently happy to see me down in her region. A photo of Gus laid out is pretty easy to get or one shot from a distance but to get anywhere near him is either an invitation to be smelled or for some reason to leave. Neither is afraid of the camera, although Gus finds it's chirps and snicks peculiar, Marlin shows some interest in the hanging lens cover.

I suppose Gus seems a bit large for a house pet and the first time people see him indoors they are somewhat taken aback. He is a careful animal, he has never knocked anything over, even with his great vast tail (of which he is inordinately proud and extremely reluctant to have brushed). Nothing happens within sixty feet or so of the house that doesn't provoke a warning bark, things vibrate, like window panes and the floor. He doesn't shed much, but when he does it involves great masses of long white hair that the vacuum doesn't appreciate. The real drawback is dog slobber, he drools, shoe strings hanging from his face and when he is pleased he gives his head a shake - I haven't found any on the 9 foot 6 inch ceiling, yet, but some have gotten pretty close. I keep a slobber rag near my recliner that gets regular duty wiping his face. My wife keeps a very clean house so the dog and I are a constant irritant in that respect, but she loves him and tolerates me - most times. Construction workers are filthy beasts after all. One day I'll have to get a picture of Gus sitting in his work truck that he lets me drive, it is a '78 K20 pickup with a utility box, meaning the bench seat is where he rides (one seat, one driver, one dog). Sometimes there's a little shoving regarding shares.

Pyrenees are guardian dogs, their name comes from the Pyrenees Mountains where they guarded sheep. The practice of the time was to take the sheep to the mountains after the snow cleared and leave them and the dogs who kept wolves from being a problem. The dogs were placed with the sheep as pups and they printed on them as the pack. The breed is independent, if you want a fetch dog or immediate obedience dog, find another breed. The dogs are mild tempered and spend a great deal of time lying down, but once they've printed their loyalty is exceptional, protection is to the death. Nothing has ever crossed Gus, so I have no measure of his reaction, it would be a particularly stupid sort of thing to do. Weighing 150 pounds and 31 inches at the shoulder Gus is on the moderately large end of the breed. New Foundland and St Bernard were bred out of the Pyrenees breed. Some sources state they are the oldest established breed, though sometimes mistaken for it, they are not members of the mastiff family. The breed very nearly went extinct and were brought back in the Victorian era. There are two varieties of Pyrenees, the show and the working, Gus is a show, the working variety is somewhat smaller and has a less full coat. The coat is comprised of guard hairs which are long and somewhat coarse and an under coat that is extremely fine, silky, and very dense - it is virtually impossible to find skin - bathes are involved, to understate. Most Pyrenees in our area are show variety used as guardians.

Gus disapproves of all wild animals, trespassing cats, and any square bodied truck and most diesels. UPS, FedEx, and mail trucks are considered particularly bad items, though he cares nothing about the drivers. I've had Gus about 3 years now and he has been a joy. He is as well mannered as can be, stays completely off furniture, is gentle with children, and uniformly friendly with people. His judgement seems good, a drunk once tried to converse with my wife while she was walking him, harmless but unwelcome. Gus' response was to place himself directly between them, and that was all. His idea of a toy is a smashed 12 ounce dish liquid bottle which he has had for these three years, it is quite flat and dented. Nothing else seems to qualify, he is entirely disinterested in balls or other doggy toys and has no clue whatever about catch, if you toss him a snack it will hit him between the eyes.

Well, that's your dog story for the evening.


ThePoliticalCat said...

Great dog story. Whatta pup.

I can see why Gus' getting between an obnoxious person and the target of their obnoxiousness might make them rethink their behaviour.

Dusty said...

Jaysus, that was a great story. I love Gus and if you lived in Cali, I might consider stealing him from you. just kidding

You are one fine storyteller Chuck. ;)