Dogs Who've Owned Me: A Partial List

The puppy was abandoned on our property, or had wandered there. We first heard his pathetic cries under our bedroom window at three AM one morning and so did our two cats. I believe that the cats anticipated an interesting cat toy, but that wasn’t to be the case. What they got was a hyperactive 'playmate', whose shocking behavior they found totally unprecedented.

We grew attached to Wolfman while contemplating finding him a home. Not being able to face taking him to the pound, we kept him. Initially a loving creature, he evolved into lawsuit material. I began to notice those Yellow Pages attorney's ads reading "We specialize in DOG BITES! Have YOU been Bitten? Do you KNOW someone who has been BITTEN?"

Wolfman bit people, or at least tried to. Adults, children, and the hands that fed him were at risk. He also took exception to some of the faces he saw on televisions or computer screens. He went hyper when he saw Hannibal Lector or Geraldo Rivera. At the veterinarian's office, he’d been known to go ballistic over a cat poster; at home he regularly tried to attack my animal-themed wall calendar.

Wolfman was dominant and un-socialized I thought, and I had a feeling that a dog obedience class wouldn’t make much difference. He seemed to be confused about size and the dog breed hierarchy. He didn’t understand that terriers should probably not attack larger dogs.

He attacked a German Shepherd. Wolfman lunged at the creature and went for the throat. It happened so quickly that the German Shepherd seemed confused. First he’d seen a white blur, now there was a small creature dangling from his neck. He simply shook his head as if trying to dislodge a large insect. We disengaged the doggies. Neither dog was hurt.

Perhaps Wolfman had an 'abuse excuse' for his behavior. We initially believed that he may have been harassed by children as a puppy. But after reading up on his terrier/whatever mix, we realized that his aggression was somewhat normal, especially towards children.

Wolfman was with us for several years, then was diagnosed with an essentially untreatable and painful disease of the spine and had to be euthanized. We were heartbroken, but grateful for his presence, and for the fact that he’d made us appreciate dogs all over again.

Thanks to Wolfman, we were motivated to adopt a dog from the local shelter, a bichon frisse mix with an angelic disposition. Sugarbear was neither a yapper nor an ankle biter, loved everyone, and was a great lap dog. Not a great watchdog, he’d bark at shadows on the wall. We accepted this trade-off. He was playful, funny, and intelligent. We fell totally in love with him.

In retrospect, I however wonder if the implications of a dog's name might affect it's identity/behavior? Perhaps we should not have named him 'Wolfman', perhaps unwittingly creating a rough and tough image for him to live up to . . . Nah!