Animated Dog

Shadow Tails - Protector

Shadow’s yard was a very deep fully fenced lot including a double white picket gate that had to be opened to drive back to the garage. Right next to the gate on the inside of the fence was a giant oleander plant about ten feet tall and maybe six around at the base. The Shadow liked that plant as she had made a nest in it. Its thick growth kept her well shaded in our hot summers plus nice, warm, and dry on all but the wettest days of our winters. Even more important, that thick plant combined with her being all black except the tips of her paws to make her invisible at night. One of her absolutely most favorite things was operating in stealth mode and even in the brightest sunlight she could be totally invisible in her nest.

Of course, the Shadow loved to play, especially when she could get me. One of her favorite tricks would be to hide in her nest and ignore me when I got home staying perfectly still no matter how much I called to her, whistled or clapped my hands. Unable to see her I would finally give up and she would then tip toe out of her nest, and be totally invisible, especially at night. Just as I was putting my key into the door lock, she would quickly stick her wet nose firmly on my behind with no warning at all. The house had a low roof that I could easily reach. Of course, she had all these other hiding places, so just watching the nest was never enough. More than once, especially when in shorts and touched by that wet unexpected nose, I was certain I jumped right up on that low roof. The higher I jumped, the happier she was. She thought that was such great sport, getting me good! Of course I could not stay angry when she came in and put her head on my lap and let me know life was such a fun game!

Anyhow, there was only one other person in the world that Shadow would play that game with. It was her buddy Bob Jacobs from next door that ran a little but very busy garage. Bob always took a few minutes away from his work to come visit "his dog". Strangely he loved that stealth game and would try so hard to catch her as she snuck up on him, particularly in the wee early morning hours or late after dark. I think that is why she was so good at that game. Bob had a bunch of kids and they all loved the Shadow too. They would make Bob’s lunch for him and always include a little something extra for the Shadow, even if it was just a big bone. Seems that she got pretty used to my feeding her, plus being able to use the saddest eyes in the world to bum enough extra food from me and Bob, plus selected others that she often looked like a barrel with legs.

Bob’s kids loved to come to his garage with him then come over and visit the Shadow. His youngest boy, Bobbie, loved my pachinko (Japanese pinball gambling machine) even more. With a hundred pounds of invisible black streak to play guard I never locked the door when I was home or just making short trips. This was bad as Bob often would get to work real early with little Bobby. Little Bobby loved to come over and play with my pachinko machine as early as six in the morning. Nothing like waking up to bells, alarms, and the sounds of steel balls falling through a grid of nails as fast as little Bobbie’s fingers could launch them. Not only did this make for a pretty strange alarm clock, it filled countless hours having to keep fixing the parts on that machine that he was determined to wear out as quickly as possible. It was also a good thing my flying in the Air Force Reserves, often took me to Japan. I had to constantly restock those metal balls. I think I supplied much of Bobby’s class with "steel marbles". Anyhow, in a burst of rare genius, it seems that one Christmas I gave Bobby that machine and enough balls to last him for years. Got even with Bob for sharing little Bobby at six in the morning, turned over the ongoing maintenance on that monster machine to a professional mechanic, and made Bobby responsible for his own little steel balls. I heard more than one groan from Bob, but also heard that suddenly when that was his problem, little Bobby quickly shaped up and was a real tough task master on his friends. Only gave them a few balls and if they did not give them all back, cut their play off completely. *smile*

When I was off flying with the Air Force Bob would take care of the Shadow. He and his whole brood would love to come over and play with her. If they forgot, it really did not matter because the Shadow was not a bit shy and she also had wings. There was not a fence in her world that could stop her. She bounced over the six-foot fences clearing them easily even when shaped like a barrel. It was fun to watch her go over the neighbors back fences. She was the biggest dog on the block and all of the other dogs just finally give up on her when she would sail through their yards. You could watch her clear one fence, take a few steps then the next, then the next. Sort of like counting sheep. One of the neighbors got upset at those intrusions and added a top board to his fence that made it a full eighteen inches higher. She did not like that at all. She got angry and at full speed just rammed into his probably thirty-year-old fence and made a hole Shadow sized. After I had to fix his fence a half dozen times, she came up with a new plan and launched from the neighbors tool shed and we all just gave up as she owned that yard too and was not about to give it up no matter what we did. Anyhow, if Bob and his kids forgot to come over and visit the Shadow, she simply hopped right over the fence next door and went and visited anyway. That kind of made her master a little angry as she loved to step in the oil and grease then bring it home.

She spent so much time next door at the auto shop that they put up a sign saying "Guard Dog on Duty" to keep away any burglars at night. They even put out food and water dishes for her. Bob said he at first had just put them out for show, but she picked them up one at a time and dumped them on his desk figuring if she had the job, she deserved the pay too. She continued to take him her dishes whenever they were empty until he got the hint. Somehow, she even got his kids to build her a little dog house there out back. She would not use it until they added a soft bed inside. So, in addition to having my home, excuse I meant her home with a doggy door, she also had her dog house next door. I guess, after all what is a home away from home without all the comforts. She really did take her guard dog duties most seriously. My job flying with the Air Force used to keep me away often. Bob and his family would take care of her and play with her during the day, but at night she was on her own when I was not home.

On one short weekend trip where I left on a Friday afternoon and got back Sunday evening I came home to a big surprise. The Shadow was sitting at a full point for me like some kind of a hunting dog. Where she was pointing was my roof. Up there on that low roof was a young black fellow. In front of my door was his loot bag, door jimmying tools, and flashlight. It seems the stealth mode critter had come up behind him when he was trying to make an entrance. He was all but in tears up there on the roof saying he had been there for two days and to please hold that viscous animal. Of course, I never met anyone who could hold Shadow if she did not want to be held. I also knew that this guy had probably tried to break in early that morning as Bob would have been at work the day before. So, I just took my stuff inside listening to this fellow continue to howl and cry for relief. Shadow did not move at all except to give him her most sincere look saying if he came down, he was dog food. I did happen to mention that the Shadow was being nice as I knew she could easily get up on the roof when and if she wanted.

I guess he tried a couple of more times to get down, but she kept him up there where she wanted while I called the Sheriff’s. Turned out a friend of mine was on duty and we had to share a long coffee, ok it was really a beer, but this is back in the sixties when such was more acceptable. We watched the Shadow herd that bandit from one side of the roof to the other. The officer told this guy that I must of been in a pretty good mood as I normally just shot burglars or at least had the last two. Still in my flight suit, I did happen to unzip enough that my shoulder holster was clearly visible. My Sheriff friend told this guy he could not come down until he had made a formal statement. The fellow responded mouthing off badly to my friend, so my buddy headed for his patrol car after saying I was to call when the firing was done. This fellow suddenly realized that we were serious and the only way he was going to get out of there alive was to make a statement. Once he started singing, he kept right on going writing down his admission of burglarizing many of the homes in that area. His bag has stuff in it taken from my neighbor’s. My Sheriff friend asked me to have Shadow let the burglar down. That burglar was the happiest person in the world to get trotted off in cuffs to jail. Seems Shadow had an answer as to how to treat burglars. Keep them up on a hot roof with no food or water in fear of their lives. Anyhow, took the Shadow inside, made two identical steak dinners, one for me and one for her, scratched her just the way she loved, then called it a busy weekend for both of us.