INSIDE Dog day

Three-quarters of the Malgesini pack — the General, Lucifer and John — race down the McNary Tunnel Trail above the Columbia River near Plymouth, Washington.

As National Dog Day approaches I would be in the doghouse if I didn’t brag on our canine kids — both German shepherds.

Lucifer, my husband’s almost 10-year-old dog, is mostly black; and the General is my tan/black (with a hint of ginger) 7-year-old. My pops trained sentry dogs in the Air Force — so it’s no surprise that I fell in love with German shepherds. Many people equate the breed as working dogs with the military and police departments.

One time while walking Lucifer someone asked John if he was a police dog. "Yes, he’s a German shepherd," he replied. The person pressed further, again asking if he was a police dog.

"He’s not currently employed," John responded with a straight face.

John and I got tired of carrying water for the dogs while hiking, so we purchased a doggie backpack. We were a bit surprised the General took to it right away. I think it made him feel important to carry his own stuff. Also, maybe he thought he was being just like mommy as I often wear a waist pack with my camera and extra lenses.

Although incredibly smart, the General also is a bit quirky. He can’t help some things. He has big ears. I mean really big — like Yoda ain’t got nothing on him. And they’re always getting dinged up.

I felt horrible when I accidentally rolled the Jeep window up on one of his ears. Honestly, I don’t know how it happened — it was like the perfect storm — but his ears, they’re so dang big.

I also had a window incident with Lucifer at the bank drive-through. I turned my head when the teller said something and in that split second I caught his head. He didn’t make a peep. I noticed when I went to hand him a treat from the teller.

I’m happy to report that I’ve never rolled any of my husband’s appendages in the window. And now I always watch it go up all the way up.

The General was quite willful from the beginning. His attitude was, "We don’t need no stinkin’ leash." Being an experienced German shepherd mom, I knew I had to be firm with him. We practically wore a path in the backyard from me dragging him on the leash.

After being deemed winner of the leash wars, I ventured into the neighborhood with him. Knowing he would grow to be strong, I taught the General to sit down whenever I stopped. He mastered this with ease — sometimes even anticipating as I slowed down approaching a curb.

I realized how well he acquired the stop-sit technique when my husband returned after a morning walk. Foot surgery had John moving at a sluggish pace. In fact, it was so slow that the General kept sitting down every few steps. I couldn’t help but laugh thinking how that must have looked to passersby.

During John’s convalescence, I had my own experience with Lucifer. One morning while walking him behind Good Shepherd Medical Center, I let him off the leash. He trotted ahead and before I knew it he had triggered the automatic door and entered the hospital — evidently he had ambitions of being a therapy dog.

If you aren’t a "dog person" you just won’t understand. But those of us fortunate enough to become part of a pack are forever changed.

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Tammy Malgesini is the community editor. Her column, Inside my Shoes, includes general musings about life. Contact her at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.

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