A Word About Pete


People who have been reading my blog (both of them) have asked me about Pete. How is he? Has he adjusted to life with his enormous brother?
And so, lest anyone think that a youthful, high-energy German Shepherd has completely stolen the show, a word about our smaller, auxiliary dog.

Pete is now officially the old man of the family. His white face and love of the couch are in contrast to his youthful self, when he leapt and ran like the coursing hound whose blood is somewhere in his veins. He loved to run, and when he soared over a low-lying bush to give chase to some trespassing creature, he looked exactly like the side of a bus.

He rarely shows this side of himself now, unless there are squirrels involved. He eyes the antics of Moses and his puppy friend with an air of skepticism, occasionally joining in the chase, but only briefly. He is more likely to bark and chase them down, rolling them onto their backs as he shows his teeth, just to show who’s boss. Remarkably, Moses, who outweighs him nearly two to one, rolls over timidly, submitting to Authority.

Pete is a snuggler. When he sleeps with us in the bed, I will frequently wake up to find his face lying delicately against my cheek. He is difficult to budge in the mornings, preferring the warmth of blankets to a brisk excursion in snow and cold. If you are busy and not paying him proper attention, he will nudge your hand with his nose insisting that you pet him, even if your hand has a cup of hot coffee or some good bourbon in a hand-blown glass.

There aren’t many photos of Pete, but this is because he has a horror of cameras. We don’t know much about Pete’s early life, because he came to us at 10 months old, or so. We know it wasn’t entirely happy, and we also know that it involved something bad with cameras. When a camera comes out, Pete slinks away or hides under the table. In the photos we do manage to take, Pete’s expression conveys the idea that he’s in a hostage situation. IPhones seem to have made a difference, but haven’t completely eliminated the problem. I think maybe it’s the high-pitched hum of digital flashes. My husband believes that someone posted an unflattering picture of Pete on Facebook.

In this unusually cold winter, both dogs have been getting less exercise than they should. Our daily walks in the woods after work have been curtailed by sub-zero temperatures and early darkness. I love these walks as much as they do, but the dogs are able to run easily in the deep snow of the woods, while I can only trudge along in big boots. Pete, on the trails, becomes his old self, and Moses sprints behind with his own equine grace, but he is less nimble and with a higher center of gravity.

The other day, they both started at the chuffing snorts of deer nearby, and in a split second they took off to give chase, Pete in the lead, and Moses leaping behind. They were gone for nearly five minutes, and I ignored it, knowing the deer were safe, that the dogs would be doubly tired when they returned. After a reasonable period of time, and before they made it to the next county, I whistled for them, and I heard them charging back long before I could see them.

This is our routine, and in it Pete returns to his younger days, while Moses simply blows off steam. The dogs bounce back to the car, panting, snow-covered, and happy, and then, in my own tribute to lost youth, we go up the road a bit to practice bootleg turns in the snowy parking lot of the golf course.

You have to make your own fun in the winter.

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