Additional Excerpt


Well, pretty is what Diane calls her, anyway. With David, it’s another story. It seems to me that what he calls her sounds very much like “the devil dog”.

Haley is an absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous female German Shorthair Pointer, bred by Di’s sister and raised by Di since she was eight weeks old. David took her everywhere with him during the first few months she lived with them, including obedience classes. But, Di has taken over her education. In other words, she’s spoiled.

We first met Haley on one of our trips north to visit with our kids when Rocky was about nine months old. You see, David is our son and Di, our daughter-in-law. We try to visit (inflict ourselves on) each of the kids, equally, so that no one feels slighted. In an attempt to keep family harmony, there may be an occasion or two when you’ll have to read between the lines.

Since Rocky and Haley are only about a month apart in age, and are both hunters, we had hoped that the two of them would become playmates. The first nose-to-nose didn’t go badly. Each took good measure of the other, went to their respective parents (neutral corner), and returned for an additional sniff or two. While they weren’t immediately enamored with one another, neither were they aggressive.

But, there was no way Haley was going to let Rocky out of her sight. Who knows what that interloper might do! So, wherever Rocky went, Haley went. It was almost as if the two of them were attached.

David and Di tried to distract her by giving her a bone. Naturally, they gave one to Rocky, too. In no time flat, Haley had two bones and, would you believe, Rocky had none. And, since Rocky is so laid-back, he was not going to fight her for it. I must admit, though, that there were times that I saw Rocky steal Haley’s bone when she wasn’t looking. But, obviously, the lines were drawn.

When we took them out to walk and play, they were absolutely fine. We played ball, they chased one another, and they looked for squirrels together. Once outside, the relationship was great. The minute we went inside, however, Haley became territorial and possessive again.

One morning, while cleaning up after breakfast, David noticed puffs of white hair on the floor. He called me over to take a look at it because I had made a point about poodles not shedding. I had wanted David to feel comfortable about having another dog in the house and not be concerned about the effect on his asthma. So, I probably overdid it a bit in explaining that Rocky had hair, not fur, and therefore, no dander, (blah, blah, blah) so he would not contribute to any attacks.

Well, there were indeed clumps of what appeared to be white hair on the floor. At first, I thought that it might be stuffing from one of the toys that the dogs had been playing with, but after careful examination, it certainly did appear to be Rocky’s hair. I couldn’t understand it. He had never shed before. David, of course, was elated because my dog wasn’t perfect, after all.

This was a mystery! How could a dog who has never shed (believe me, I know…I have to brush him every day or else he mats), suddenly start shedding? Was he sick? Did the anxiety of the trip cause this reaction? Or, perhaps it was the new surroundings and his interaction with Haley?

As I was puzzling over this new, strange occurrence, my daughter, Sharon, who was in the family room, called me. She asked me what the trouble was. I told her about Rocky’s hair and she burst out laughing. She had been served her breakfast in the family room, comfortably snuggled into the sofa, because she was recovering from recent surgery and, from her vantage point, had a unique perspective.

Sharon told me that while we were all engaged in conversation over coffee, Haley was staging strikes on Rocky. He would be lying quietly at the end of the breakfast room and Haley would swoop down on him, bite at him, and then run off. Each time she struck, she would pull out a bit of his hair. Fortunately, we keep our visits short (I was told once that relatives, like fish, smell after three days) or else Rocky might have looked more like a hairless Chinese Crested than a poodle.