Monday, November 30, 2009

The Gravy Train

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.


Arkansas Patti said...

Thank you so much for the shout out.
I just love this story as we went through the same thing with our toy fox terrier when I was a child. She was morbidly obese and we didn't know why.
Susie had five tricks she would do for any food tidbit. She would speak, roll over, play dead, beg and shake hands. My mother followed her one day as Susie make her rounds. She would go up to peoples doors on the block, scratch, then perform her list of 5tricks. Naturally she got fed. She covered the neighborhood.
I thought Susie was unique but evidently not. How on earth did those two dogs figure out their routes??
Great story and it reminded me of a very special dog in my life. Thanks so much.

Renie Burghardt said...

Yes, many pet lovers in blogland. I have 2 dogs, both were rescues, and I have 5 cats, all of them were abandoned in the country and found me, of course. Abandoned animals always find me. I love all animals. Loved the story of Fleecie. Of course, my dogs are not kept outside, they can and do come in, and are never out at night, neither are the cats. Animals are a lot of company.

Have a great week!


Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

I loved the story about Fleecie!
What a shrewd canine she was!
Now days the courts are full of "dog custody" cases.

Amber Star said...

We don't have any pets now and probably won't for a good while. When we married I had a cocker spaniel who was a very good dog and never bit any of our crazy kids. Mr. Penny was a very good dog indeed. We had Charlie after that and he lived to a ripe old age of about 13. He had hip dysplasia and I feel so bad that I didn't keep him on steroids longer.
It is unlikely he would have become addicted to them. What an idiot I was. Charlie loved to dig up my flower beds and sleep in the cool soil. I wasn't fond of that behavior at all. I wouldn't give up on him until one day I was dragging him around on a sheet because he couldn't walk anymore. He was also having small strokes. That was my moment of clarity that it was time for Charlie to go home. He had suffered so much.

Not so much with the myriad of cats who have shared our home. However, for the first time in years we don't have any...and no plans to get another. I'm allergic to them.

Silver said...

This one is a political one!! Their level of intelligence is astounding!


Small City Scenes said...

What a super sweet story. I love the name Fleecie better than Felicia. Our little Jack russell Sassy had a morning routine--I don't know if it involved food though.

About tires: This car has gone through so many tires and I have been told that Mazdas just do that. Well I am going to contact Mazda--somehow. 3 sets of tires and 3 flats in 3 years. I have had many cars and those were the first flats I EVER had. I think it is how the tires are made but I don't know a solution. MB

Patty said...

It's amazing how we can become attached to dogs or any kind of pet. We lived in MD for a short time, in a suburb, in a row housing project, while Abe finished out his tour at Ft. Holobird.(spelling) Our backyard was fenced in, so no strays came into the yard, but the only way we could get the lawn mower from the front to the back or vice versa was to either take it through the house, or go to the end of the block and around to the alley behind the house.

We had a dog come to our front door everyday at a certain time, we knew it belonged to the neighbors behind us, so we would let Blacky come in for a while. Kids had to give her some treats, and pet her, after she took a little nap she would go to the door wanting out, apparently she visited both us and one family next door. Her owner told us we had to quit feeding her anything, she was getting too fat, so we did. Finally another neighbor across the street complained about Blacky not being on a leach, so the neighbor behind us had to start tying her when she put her out. The neighbor complaining was the one that had a big slobbery boxer that would almost knock you down if you were on that side of the street. Blacky was a genlte Basset hound.

Lorna said...

Dogs are cleverer than I thought.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Great story about "Fleecie." I hope she lived a long life without pain. Having never owned a dog of that breed, I didn't know that Shepherds were prone to hip dysplasia.

Speaking of dogs, I need to call the local shelter to learn if there have been any inquiries about the sweet Cairn Terrier I took to them a week ago. A stray, very hungry and medium dirty, but super friendly and loving. He evidently at one time had been somebody's loved dog. I kept him for two days and fell in love with him. I hope he's claimed by his rightful owners or some nice family adopts him. Otherwise... I'll probably soon own a Cairn Terrier! Just can't stand the thought of him being put down. Yes... I'd willingly take in every stray cat or dog that came my way.:) I just need more money!

lakeviewer said...

We are learning more and more how best to live with our pets. I've just learned that dogs are should not be fed human food at all.

I can't believe this is possibly a good thing; but I'm willing to learn.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

What a wonderful tale/tail!!! Fleecie must have been a very special Shepherd to inspire such love and confidence in so many!! I thoroughly loved this...but then, I LOVE dogs!! Hilarious about the canine custody battle... Love to you and Luckie, dear friend! Janine XO

NitWit1 said...

I love all your comments. Pets seem to evoke a lot of memories.

And I see Fleecie was not unique with her gravy train. I really think she developed her route because all the neighborhood children loved her. She probably visited their homes when my neighbor's children played in the neighborhood. No doubt she received food even more often than her owners imagined.

Cats have always had routes, since they naturally roam, if not confined.

Linda Starr said...

Ha, what a smart dog.

I saw your post on Patti's blog and wanted to let you know that my great grandmother was on the trail of tears and her family settled in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Perhaps we are related?

Sandi McBride said...

We should all get together and write a book of dog stories...I grew up on Albert Payson Terhune books...Lad a Dog grabbed my heart at age 9...
oh, and about the pronunciation of pecans...we have a town east of us, Pickens, SC...derived from the regional tribes as they pronounced pecans I learned on Making it Grow, a PBS show promoted by Clemson University