About three weeks ago we got a dog. She is a five-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Ladybug. She was rescued, so we have been told, from a shelter in Ohio, and she came with Ohio dog tags and records from a veterinarian clinic in Cleveland. Or maybe it was Cincinnati. She is full of energy, much too full on mornings when she wants to go out before I’ve had my coffee.
At first she was somewhat subdued. She would go out with me but hardly take an interest in anything except trucks roaring by. These she would bark at fiercely and still does.
Then she discovered squirrels.
I’m not sure what first caught her eye. It seemed pretty plain to me that they were taunting us, staring at us with their glittering, beady eyes and twitching their long tails. Then when we would get close, they would scramble up the nearest tree or telephone pole, well out of reach, and stare at us some more.
I confess: I’ve been tempted to let her off leash just see her catch one.
We’ve taken to going on pretty long walks, not just around the block, but five blocks up the street, down the hill, along the bluff where the nice houses are, and back up the hill to Page. Other times we go up by the school, across the athletic field, up by the cemetery, over where all the houses look like they have always had just one owner, down Kansas to Belvidere, over to Andrew, and back to Page again. Often we walk through Bluff park, taking out time and stopping at every interesting smell.
Ladybug sees with her nose. She pokes it into things I would not poke my finger into. One time we found a dead squirrel in the park. It was stiff with rigormortis, but Ladybug poked it with her nose until it moved. Then she started and backed away as if it were alive indeed. Then she returned and grabbed it in her teeth and shook it. She tried to treat it as if it were alive. It was odd.
In many ways she is an odd dog, not perhaps odd for her breed, but for my experience with dogs. When I was growing up, we had German shepherds, large, active animals, eager to please and affectionate. Ladybug is nothing like them. She is independent, fastidious in her way, and eager to please herself. None of my experience with German shepherds could possibly prepare me for her.
But I like her. She’s a good dog.