Dog under the influence

Leo and Mia are best friends. They chew on each other’s faces and make growly sounds that sound like chanting Tibetan monks. They each take one end of a squeaky toy and tug. When I take Leo for a walk by himself, he stalls on the driveway, as if to say, “Wait, isn’t Mia coming?”

Mia had a tooth pulled and Leo spent hours licking that side of her face, and she let him, even offered her face to him, so he’d keep doing it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to come home and see them sniffing around the front yard, since they were in the fenced yard with Rob when I left. It was quite a mystery at first, because Rob was in the shower, and the front door and side gate were still closed. Later I realized that they’d squeezed through the blackberry bushes on the creek side of the house and escaped to the front yard.

A day or so later, Leo came trotting around that side of the house by himself while I was bringing groceries in from my car. Even though Mia was smart enough to stay in back that time, I realized that she was probably the ring leader, since she is accustomed to a life unrestrained by fences, and Leo’s lived here a year without figuring out he could escape via that side of the house. We put up some chain link to keep them in. They’ve hung out together a few times in the bushes since then, but haven’t been able to get past the chain link.

Other than that, Mia hasĀ  been a perfect angel. She has no bad habits at all, and has been a very good influence on Leo. He destroys stuff less often — although when he destroys stuff, he destroys it really bad — he has almost completely stopped attention seeking by attacking Rob’s ankles and legs, and he spends more time curled up peacefully, rather than looking for trouble.

My dentist, a dog aficionado, warned me that rescue dogs are really well-behaved at first, so grateful are they to be in a loving home. After six weeks, though, they realize that you’re going to keep them around and they start showing their true selves. No, no, not my Mia, I thought. Her true self is sweet and mellow. Even the folks at the vet are impressed with her temperament.

But Leo’s demon self might be a more powerful influence than I thought. This morning, Rob found them in the backyard, poised like two zombies over a carcass, ripping out the innards of a lawn chair cushion. Both of them! Not just Leo while Mia watched. She was right there with him, participating in the depravity.

Later, while Rob was working out in the studio, the two dogs waited outside the door, as they usually do. When he came out, he found the shattered remains of a ceramic skull, left on the doorstep like some kind of ominous warning.

Maybe we shouldn’t let them watch The Walking Dead with us anymore.

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