Richard M. Barron
WINSTON-SALEM — I used to think of Junior as the young, gangly dog with unrefined manners compared with his much older and gentlemanly brother Cash.
But I shocked myself when I began to think more about Junior, who was a skittish 2-year-old when we brought him home.
His “gotcha” day is coming up later this month and I realize that was seven years ago. Not only is Junior out of his rough-edged teen years, he’s a positively senior dog at 9.
He was an escape artist during that first winter week in 2015 and he still is. Just a lot less frequently.
Like all dogs, Junior has become a more cuddly and well-behaved dog as he has aged.
His brother, Cash, who is now 14 years old with a few health issues, is obedient and affectionate even as his hearing seems to have all but gone away.
When we first brought Junior home, he just loved to run. Sure, that was at the dog park, but it also happened when he would run right out the front door and down the street.
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He had only been home for a couple of days when he pulled his first escape and nothing I could do lure him back. My attempts to catch him only resulted in him running a little bit further, staying just a bit out of my reach each time, like a game of chase.
But he had bonded so quickly with the protective Cash that once my wife Rachel brought Cash (on a leash) to the front porch, Junior ran back. Perhaps he was thinking Cash would run off and play with him.
For seven years now, we have learned to stand between Junior and any open door because there could always be a darting squirrel to lure him into the yard. He’s still impulsive.
But other than with that, Junior has become a much more reliable dog.
And that has been a godsend, especially because we were used to Cash being a model dog since he was about 11 months old.
Even now, Junior gets so excited when it’s time to go for a walk that he jumps up on Rachel despite our repeatedly trying to stop this behavior. But finally, after turning her back on him and refusing to put on his leash, she has gotten Junior to stop jumping. Even more miraculously, he sits down at the front door without being asked before his leash is snapped on. It only took seven years.
But as if to show we haven’t completely broken the rebel in him, Junior still pulls some of his old tricks.
When we’ve waited just a little too long to feed him, for example, he’ll start gnawing plastic or paper or anything else he knows will annoy us.
And one day recently, Rachel was taking him out for a potty break when he did it again: He wiggled free of his collar somehow and darted out toward the street.
This time, he just stood at the end of our sidewalk, as if waiting for her to come and play.
Instead, she turned and started to open the front door to go in by herself. (The same psychology you’d use on a 2-year-old child.)
In a heartbeat, Junior was back on the porch, waiting to go into the house.
Rachel told me about the crisis only after it was over … I tend to panic over lost dogs.
And Junior was back in the fold. Let’s hope he stays cozy in the house for many more years.
Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.