Elliot and the Major

Dec. 08, 2012 @ 08:42 PM

Far be it from me to second guess God’s judgment but I would have made the world a little differently. I would have figured out some way to make mankind a little more like dogs. Dogs are far more likable than humans and I never meet a dog I don’t like. I rarely meet a human I don’t like but I have to admit, it sometimes happens. I’m not sure why, but I put dogs on a different level with other animals. No other animal had the ability to bond with a person like a dog.
This isn’t about humans, though, it’s about dogs. This week, in my travels around town, I met two workplace dogs. Years ago, and I suppose it still happens, there was a workday designated as “Bring your Daughter to Work Day”. The idea was to expose young girls to the working environment, the assumption being that boys are naturally exposed and predisposed to plan for some sort of career. Honestly, I don’t really see the need and thought it might have been a little silly. The young career women I know are certainly as prepared for a career as the young men, maybe a little better.
My hearing isn’t as good as it once was and the first time I heard the Public Service Announcement for “Bring your Daughter to Work Day” on the Radio, I thought the guy said, “Bring your Dog to Work Day”. I thought this was a grand idea then and I still do. Not long ago, I wrote a column on Triad Plastics, a place where multiple dogs go to work with their owners every day. This week, I found two more, Yountz Machine, in Thomasville, and Artistic Quilting, in High Point.
Major, at Yountz Machine, a metal turning company owned by Gary and Pat Yountz, is a Jack Russell mix. He belongs to son, Phillip, is less than a year old and pretty much serves as the receptionist there. He’s a typical terrier, excitable and high energy. He doesn’t quite trust you at first but, call his name, offer a hand to sniff, and rub his ears and you’ll make friends fast. He seems to have a position of merit in the Yountz family.
Being a terrier, Major’s high energy tends to get him in trouble so he has to be leashed while he’s outside. This week, when I visited Yountz Machine, I suggest that Phil get an underground containment system for Major. I suspect it will be Major’s Christmas present, allowing him to roam around the yard at the shop without danger of getting in the road.
Elliot, a black cocker spaniel, has a different issue. He’s a little anti-social at times and Artistic Quilting has a sign on the front door that warns visitors to not pet Elliot because he’s moody. Elliot’s owners are Kent and Lynn Crawford. When I met Elliot, he watched me carefully and then retired to his bed. After talking to Lynn and learning his name, I called him. He came to me but was reserved. He sniffed my hand, allowed me to stroke his head and returned to his bed. Lynn told me that he was ecstatic when the UPS man came, but he was indifferent with other people.  The Crawfords love Elliot. They took him on as a puppy, and they’re willing to deal with his eccentricities. I think that’s the way it should be.
Dogs, like people have different personalities. Larry’s predecessor, Ernie, had a personality 180 degrees from Larry’s personality. He was a great dog but he had faults. He hated other male dogs and was prone to get in dogfights. He didn’t really care for anyone but me and only tolerated other people because they petted him and gave him treats. He loved me so much I couldn’t  leave him for more than a couple of days at a time or he’d get sick. He had flaws, but he was a wonderful friend and companion.
Larry, on the other hand, never meets a stranger, loves dogs, cats, squirrels, and anything else that might possibly play with him. When we hunt, he hunts with intensity but if the bird isn’t dead when he picks it up, it’s not dead when he brings it back. He simply has no animosity for anything. Life is a fun game with friends for him. Larry can be serious when we hunt, but mostly, he’s about having fun or relaxing.
The differences that make dogs unique are part of the charm. Dealing with their different natures is what determines if you are a dog person or a dog owner. I know I view things differently from other folks and I’m perfectly happy with this. I see a person/dog relationship as a commitment. To me, it’s almost as serious as marriage. You choose the puppy, you live with the dog.
In this time of Christmas, there are a lot of dogs given as Christmas presents. There’s nothing wrong with a dog being a gift, but make sure the gift of a dog comes with a sense of commitment from the recipient. Often, during the first year, dog owners decide the trials of puppyhood are just too difficult and they renege on their commitment to the relationship. I firmly believe that at least 90% of the time, this is the wrong decision. Stick with it through the first 18 months and, I promise, things will get better. Once you and your dog adjust to each other, you’ll be glad you did. After all, in this difficult world, there’s a lot to be said for having a friend who is blind to your flaws.
Why not look over a few of his? He’s certainly willing to overlook yours.

Dick Jones is an award winning freelance writer living in High Point. He’s a member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. He writes about hunting, fishing, dogs, and shooting for several NC newspapers as well as national magazines and websites. He’s fished both fresh and salt water most of his life.  If you’d like to have him speak to your group, he can be reached at offtheporch52@yahoo.com or offtheporchmedia.com