Slowly, surely, parts of the real Buddy are coming to life.
They’re coming a little faster, in fact, than might be expected for a dog that’s spent most of his eight years hooked to a chain.
Being a garage dog wasn’t altogether bad for Buddy.
His job was to keep an eye on his owner’s garage. He barked if somebody came around at night. And though he lived outdoors, when it rained, sleeted or snowed, he could retreat under a trailer.
For his trouble, he got fed and watered every day.
There was the occasional kick from the owner.
But when Denny describes it to me, it sounds like the same thing you see in the grocery when a little one who hasn’t been taught better reaches for a box on the shelf and a mother threatens to beat his butt if he doesn’t start acting right.
“It’s like any creature,” Denny puts it. “If you don’t take the time to train them, that’s the next option.”
Buddy moved in with Denny, Brenda and Cooper after his owner had to go into the nursing home.
Denny promised he’d take Buddy if it came to that.
“Your word’s got to mean something.”
Plus, they had a history.
Knowing Buddy’s life, Denny would pick up an extra sausage-biscuit sandwich on the way over some mornings and watch Buddy take it down in two bites.
Aside from having a stick thrown at him every once in a while, that’s about all the attention Buddy got, which is why he’s now lapping it up like it’s just been invented.
The fact is, he’s acting like a lap dog.
But because at 90 pounds he resembles a black lab, that presents some practical problems.
About half of him fills my lap when I take my usual chair in the TV room. The the other half kind of remains on the ground like some weird looking end table from a Klingon version of “Antiques Road Show.”
And although he enjoys being petted when he’s sideways across the lap, he prefers scooting his hind quarters around so he’s eye to eye with you and can put a big paw on each side of your neck like it’s a hug.
Lifting him off of me gave me an appreciation for what a small high school cheerleader might face disengaging from a linebacker’s goodnight kiss.
Cooper, who’s about Buddy’s age, has been good about welcoming a second dog into the house. There was that one time when Buddy and Cooper were playing socks and Buddy made the mistake of taking Cooper’s.
Denny could tell it was going bad and at the first snarl took the socks away and barked at the both of them. (It’s a talent he sometimes exercises on those of his own species.)
There also was the time Brenda spotted Buddy starting to hike a back leg in the house. That led to a quick introduction to the outdoor chain that gives access to the patio and back yard.
But mostly, Cooper has done the teaching.
“A good, trained dog is a good trainer of a dog,” Denny tells me. “I’ve always had my dogs train my dogs. When you’ve got someone showing them, they know what to do.”
The dog-teach-dog world gets around the language barrier with people, replacing it with “follow-me” demonstrations.
And Cooper’s smart enough to show Buddy the ropes.
He even knows the difference between a ride in the car promised for later today from one promised for tomorrow — and waits to put on hang dog look (nothing personal, Cooper) for the next day.
He’s also disciplined enough that he’ll not disturb a cheeseburger abandoned on a counter unless he’s told he can have it.
Denny was reminded that not all dogs are that way when two pieces of buttered bread disappeared from the table the other day and Buddy was about to help himself to some pasta.
Denny barked at Buddy again, and another lesson was learned.
So Buddy the garage dog is enjoying the great indoors. Like Cooper, he sits on the couch or floor watching Entertainment Tonight and goes for rides in the car.
“That’s the kind of life he’s going to have now. And I’m happy to do it for him,” Denny said.
Slowly, surely, parts of the real Buddy are coming out.
“And I like the real Buddy,” Denny said.
Somehow it made me wonder how something like this might unfold with a child named Buddy.