I was told Riffy was very protective, especially toward the ladies in the family, and that he was prone to biting weak-willed men. If you stood your ground and spoke with authority, you passed the test. Luckily, I passed. I soon learned that, even with his reputation, he wanted attention, and I quickly, and then often, found his snoot poked in my face as I sat on the couch.
I’ll have to admit…dogs aren’t my favorite pets. I like cats, even though my allergy made having one impossible. I especially didn’t like it when a big dog like a Huskie or Lab came up and stuck his nose in my crotch. I’m told they all do that. It doesn’t make them any more endearing. But Riffy was a midsize dog…apparently a mix of Border Collie and something else. He had the speed of a Border Collie, but not the disposition. He at least chose some people to be friendly with. Somehow the normal herding instinct went awry. Riffy was more likely to chase down a squirrel than to herd anything.
I guess strangers wandering through his yard looked like squirrels to him. More than one regretted their trespass when it was rewarded by a nipped rear end. Even I, in my last encounter with Riffy, narrowly avoided that fate. I saw him approaching, head down in hunting posture, and he began growling. I knew his eyesight was failing, so I  yelled, “Stop it, Riffy!” His approach immediately transformed from menacing to obedient and submissive, punctuated by a furiously wagging tail. Thank goodness he recognized my voice and that I wasn’t about to take any of his crap. We live so much longer than most other animals that it’s inevitable to have to say goodbye. It wasn’t long after that encounter that this long-time family pet made his last trip to the vet…the day all pet owners dread. He’s gone, but he won’t be forgotten…not even by those unfortunate intruders.
© 2017 Robert Mihaly
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