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Archive for July 9th, 2009

Darby was a 40-pound mutt that Sandy and i had adopted as a pup from the pound.  He looked a little like the Springer Spaniel that had been my family’s beloved pet when i was a kid, so Sandy let me give him the same name, Darby.

(In Ireland, a darb is a charmer, a ladies’ man.  One day, while Darby was still a pup, i was walking him down the street and an older lady – still with a little brogue about her – reached down to pet him and said, “What a little darb you are!”  That was very cool.)

The vet told us that Darby – different from my childhood Springer, who was really pretty smart – was “one of those lovable black and white mutts who will never learn anything.”  The doc got it pretty right, but Darby was lovable – and he loved everybody, dogs and people, and was a lot of fun to play with or hike in the woods with…overall really a great dog, even though he could sometimes be very stubborn and he never learned anything.

And Darby was always up for adventure.  One day, when Sandy or I were coming through the door, Darby bolted and went running down the sidewalk.  i can’t believe that he wanted to escape – he just wanted to run free, as he got to do when we hiked in the woods.  About half-way down the block, he started to run across our little side street – and was hit by a car.  Not hard, praise god – the guy had seen him and hit the brakes.  (The “I break for animals” bumper stickers had not even been invented yet.)  Darby was not badly hurt – some bumps and bruises and pretty shaken up.  The adventure had gone right out of him and he was glad to come home – where he retreated behind our big heavy old thrift shop leather chair and spent the rest of the day there.

For the next two weeks, every time Darby and i walked down the sidewalk past the site of his encounter with the car, he barked at the spot on the street where he had been hit.  It was if he believed that it was that little section of pavement that had hurt him.

I wonder if a smarter dog would have reacted the same way….

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