Warning: If you don't want to cry, don't read the following.
It was over a dozen years ago--closer to 15--when a black chow, two or three years old was found along the highway. Had his owner dumped him there or had he run off, escaping what we have grown to believe was a cruel and heartless man? We will never know.
What we do know is that this beautiful dog was taken to the Columbia Humane Society. There he was put, with the rest of the strays and the unwanted, waiting for a home or to be put to sleep.
We have a friend. He has been many things, soldier, scholar, etc. Back then he was a scholar, going to the university in Columbia, and he was my wife's best friend. It was my wife's birthday so he sought the perfect gift. Luckily for all he found, in that cold shelter, the black chow.
There were papers to sign, fees to be paid, surgery to be performed, but by the next weekend that dog was safely put in our freind's car, and drive the 100+ miles to our house.
At the time we lived in a mobile home, next door to my parents. The home once belonged to my grandmother, and we were starting our lives together there. Almost every weekend we had friends come out to visit. On this day Jesse, our friend, came out with his gift.
We were in love.
He was a large black dog with one of those protective cones wrapped around his head like a radar dish. But that was not how he got his name. It seems this mild mannered dog had one weakness, one wild hair that drove him to distractions.
He loved to chase cats.
Cindy, my wife, is a cat person. There were three or four of them in the trailer with us. Where ever he was, radar could tell where the cats were. His head went, left-right-left-right-ping--and he was off trying to chase the cats.
Luckilly they were outside cats, and he never caught them--that day.
But it was for his cat--and other small furry animal--radar for which he was named.
I could tell you a day by day history of Radar. But that would take another 15 years. Instead let me describe some of the characteristics that I remember.
1) He came from an abusive home. He shied away from any touching at first. Hugging him and petting him was something we could do only after years of love and tenderness. On the good side, he had potty training beat into him. He once got locked in our house for 14 hours. When we got him out there was not a mess in the place. Yet I would trade days of picking up doggie piles if he could have had a better puppyhood.
We had several other dogs in these years. He trained many puppies to be pottied trained.
We know it was a man who trained him wrong, because he only got defensive and mad one time. We took him to my work for a couple of days. Pet Smart offered dog training and we wanted to see if we could break his running habit. Since it was after work, it was easier to bring him to my office and keep him there.
Everybody loved him but one man. He was a tall African American with a deep booming voice. When he came to my office for something and spoke, Radar cowered and barked.
From this we assume he was beaten by a man.
2) The cats. I have to get this out. From his beginings he never learned how to play. Toys and chew sticks went unused. He wouldn't chase or be chased unless he was out of his yard, but thats another story. No. The only game he really enjoyed was "Chasing the cat." His calm and prissy exterior vanished and a wild hunting puppy emerged whenever a cat got within 10 feet of Radar.
We had to lock the cats in 1/2 the house every night so Radar could come into the other 1/2 to sleep. Even then he'd hear them and get riled occasionally. We lost a door or two to his insistance in chasing the felines.
But what would he do if he ever caught one? Momma Cat found out. She was the mother of about 3 litters of cats at our house before we had her fixed. She out stayed them all (most were given away, some ran off, some did not survive) and was the last cat we had.
One day Radar knocked open the door between the halves of the house and chased the cat. We were away at work, so he had hours to chase and capture here.
When she was cornered Radar, well, sucked on the cat like a furry lollipop. He put her entirely in his mouth, sliming her completely, but he did no damage.
Momma Cat was not happy. She was safe, but not happy.
3) Radar should have been named Houdini. He was an escape artist. There were few fences, gates, or doors that could hold him. In that first mobile home, we had a fenced in yard. He leaned against the skirting of the house for months, slowly, calmly, pushing it in until it collapsed and he could escape under our trailer.
One week Cindy and I went on vacation. We left Radar with my parents and their fenced in yard. Radar found 7 holes in that fence big enough to squeeze through. That weekend my brother and his family were over laughing about this. They could not believe that such a big dog could ever escape out such small holes.
Radar, like most chows, is in reality a chihuahua with 10 times its weight in fur. So it seemed to us form the small spaces he routinely squeezed out of.
My mother, tired of chasing him, hid him leashed. My nephew said, "You don't need that leash. He can't get out now." He took the leash as his mother, my sister-in-law, tried to explain that it would be impossible for him to get through the fence.
"Mom!" my nephew yelled. Just that fast he was up against the fence, on the inside, while radar was standing on the outside, trying to pull the leash, and my 10 year old nephew, through the same small opening he had gone through.
I have more escape stories, and more Radar stories to tell. Like his protectiveness, his kindness, his love of frozen pizza, his love of Sasha.
But right now, its time.
I have to get a shovel. There is a hole that needs to be dug, and filled, before it gets to hot.
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