Our last dog came to us as a mature hand-me-down. Our daughter adopted him as a furry, white puppy with appealing eyes. He was small enough to fit in her housecoat pocket. His mom was Shih Tzu and reportedly his dad was Lhasa Apso, so Dudley should have remained tiny and cuddly. Six years later, he weighs 45 pounds and comes to my very tall knee. While he isn’t purse pet material, he’s still lovable.
He ended up at Grandma and Grandpa’s because he didn’t want to share his world with our first born grandchild. Initially, his presence was an act of duty—we couldn’t risk that his growls wouldn’t turn to bites as little Grace learned to crawl and grab soft, curly fur. We also didn’t want our kids to make a tough choice about their beloved pet. Now he’s part of our pack, and we can’t imagine life without him.
Although some of Dudley’s distant ancestors originated in the royal courts of China, he came to us from a farm. Instead of being a pampered pet who spent days warming a lady’s lap, this guy knew outdoors offered premium fun. He understood cattle pens and chicken yards contained interesting critters. What he didn’t understand was hunting.
The moment he joined forces with our Jack Russell, boot camp began. Buster immediately taught Dudley how to find packrat nests and demolish them. The two roamed our property, searching out piles of leaves and sticks and then capturing those vile rodents. While Dudley hadn’t been a barker before, the little terrier made it clear this activity required strident vocalization. We knew when they hit pay dirt by the intensity of their yaps.
In no time, Buster also instructed Dudley in squirrel games. The two dogs would sit at the dining room window spying on a nearby elm. As soon as they saw old Bushytail exploring a branch or using it as a path to the bird feeder, a race to the back door began. I’m surprised they didn’t wear a path in the linoleum, considering how often they spotted these visitors.
After we moved, the boys joined my husband every morning as he ventured out on his own hunts. Buster had accompanied him for years, scenting game and alerting his master. Taking him along was a pleasure because he followed commands, waited patiently, and worked in tandem with his human.
Dudley, on the other hand, didn’t have clue about hunting procedures. He didn’t know how to wait, he ran too far in advance, and he had absolutely no nose. As a result, he constantly piggybacked on Buster’s finds, much to the smaller dog’s disgust.
What Dudley did quickly learn how to do was roll down the passenger window so he could cruise down the road while wind rippled his silky coat. Our terrier had ridden shotgun for years and never messed with the up and down buttons on the door handle. A week of Dudley constantly lowering the glass forced my husband to solve the problem: duct tape over the control panel or leave the fur ball at home.
Apparently, he couldn’t resist those pleading brown eyes as he and Buster hit the road each morning. Now folks who hop in the passenger seat discover they have to ask the driver to roll down the window.
When they ask, “Kid lock?”
My spouse answers, “Nope, Dudley lock.”
Now that Dudley’s mastered this little trick, we’re optimistic we can teach him to hunt—with Buster’s help, of course.