Countless bloggers I've read since joining the blogging world are animal lovers whether canine, feline or wild. Although I love all nature I am partial to dogs and cats. The only reason I have no cats is I am, or was, allergic to cats, but not dogs.
Like Arkansas Patti [ The New Sixty ]with her beloved dog, Mighty, who once operated an animal shelter, I have a number of dog stories. We now have a shelter dog, Luckie, but once we owned pedigreed German Shepherds. A recent story by Arkansas Patti, CAN CODY COME OUT AND PLAY???, stirred my memory of another German Shepherd, Felicia.
My husband's tour of duty when we married was a reserve training ship, U.S.S. Mills, docked at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. We rented the main floor and basement of an older house in a suburb. There was an apartment above us which was a separate rental.
Next door was a single family dwelling occupied by a family with children and an older, very friendly female German Shepherd, FELICIA, whose name had been shorten by the children to Fleecie. Since the children were young, I suppose they had difficulty saying Felicia, so it was shorten to Fleecie.
Being newlyweds removed from familiar settings, we made friends as best we could, including the dog, especially myself.
Since my husband's duty shift and my pharmacy shift rarely coincided, we spent time alone in an unfamiliar setting and culture.
Our kitchen served as an entrance; the kitchen window looked out at the neighbor's home and side entrance where the dog usually camped. Sometimes I sat on my steps and petted Fleecie and often fed her food scraps. The neighbors did not mind at all.
I noticed certain times of the day Fleecie appeared at my door even when I was not sitting on the steps. If I ignored her, she disappeared for awhile.
As months passed and winter set in, I notice Fleecie had difficulty getting up and down--my first initiation in the Shepherd culture of hip dysplasia and arthritis.
The owners took her to the vet for evaluation. They came over and asked me not to feed the dog because she needed to shed weight to prolong her life with less pain. Of course, I complied and only petted her.
After a period of time the owners asked me if I was still feeding the dog; I replied. 'NO" but I petted her and inquired why the question. They said, "She is not losing weight and we are barely feeding her."
I thought a minute and said I noticed she disappeared at a certain time of day every day about 4 p.m. She was not confined to a yard, nor tied, but only strayed once a day and always returned to her rug mat by her owners' side door.
Several weeks passed. I saw the owners outside one day when I arrived home. I asked them if they ever solved Fleecie's diet program. They said,"yes, and you won't believe it!'
Frustrated with their efforts for naught in Fleecie's weight loss program, one day the owners followed her, when she disappeared at the appointed 4 p.m. time. They were amazed the dog had appointed rounds throughout the neighborhood at houses where food was waiting when she arrived. This route was not just one block but involved several streets and quite a number of houses. The treats were not a few kibbles, but mounds of food scraps, dog treats and large bowls of dog food.
The owners followed her more than once mapping her route. When they had all the houses marked, they retraced the route and asked the owners to please refrain from feeding Fleecie.
The owners filled me in on Fleecie's well organized gravy train. The persons contacted were so disappointed, but apparently complied as she lost weight. Their comments were like mine: "She is such a sweet, friendly dog to adults and children. She would not hurt a flea!"
Before we were transferred the couple had marital problems and filed for divorce. We heard the couple didn't fight over the children, but there was much contention over Fleecie. Even though I am overboard in my love of dogs, I wonder how the children felt that their parents fought over the dog above them. Perhaps, it was explained to them, there was no need to fight over the children as they had reached an amicable agreement. I only hope so.
PHOTO: very old snapshot of our third German Shepherd, Gabriela, "Gabby" for short, a sable Shepherd. Felicia was the more common black and tan color.