Larry isn’t tough, but he doesn’t try to fool anyone. He’s pretty honest and open about the fact that he’s less than macho. He howls at sirens, lifts his leg on everything, even the things he knows he’s not supposed to sometimes. Lar, (pronounced lair) barks at strange noises or people coming around, but that’s pretty much where his duty ends. If it comes down to an altercation, Larry’s not remotely interested.
When my wife takes Lar and Lola to the vet’s or occasional grooming he loves to go, but when the big dogs are close by, Larry looks the other way – he avoids eye contact that might get him into a skirmish. He’s just a good natured dog… with the heart of a chicken.
Some years back, in the dead of summer, I was in the front doing yard work. I had on a baggy sweatshirt and a straw sun hat that’s got the shading circumference of a card table. I heard Larry as I made it through the side gate, his ear piercing bark that sounds too shrill to come out of a dog even as small as Lar.
Before Lar came into view I began galloping toward him and swinging my arms like an orangutan. The second my brave watch dog spotted me, he tucked his tail, literally all the way underneath him, and ran like a greyhound for the other side of the yard, yelping like he was being skinned alive.
Lar was so loud my wife came outside to see what was killing him. She spotted me belly laughing and demanded, “What did you do to him?”
“Nothing!” I laughed, “He didn’t recognize me in the hat!”
Larry slowly walked back over realizing it was safe and he was just a shamed coward.
When my dad was sick my oldest brother came to visit and brought his dog Teddy with him. Teddy was a real dog, and real tough, not a bully, but the real deal, and Larry knew it. Lar worshipped Teddy and followed him around our backyard looking for pointers.
While Teddy was a good dog, he was still a dog. One late afternoon after Teddy devoured his bone, he decided he wasn’t just going to take Larry’s bone, which Lar most certainly would have given him to avoid confrontation, he was going to hurt Lar first.
As the catahoula hunting dog went after Lar’s neck he got a surprise… While Larry didn’t want to fight, he wasn’t going to be killed without one. I was shocked to see our stocky little shih-tzu jumping backward on his hind legs snapping and biting back the jaws of death in defense. My brother called Teddy off and saved Lar from any harm.
I think about all we hear in the media about bullying, how they’re trying to educate and change people from doing it… There going to teach people right from wrong? I have news for them: People know what’s right from wrong and while the majority do okay in general, there’s still the small percentage that just don’t care… no matter how much you try to educate them.
The old Kenny Rogers song comes to mind, “Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man.”
It’s a heartbreaking reality that I had to prepare my girls for the ugly and insidious side of this fallen world… The only thing worse would be me depending on human nature to change…