Sparky Tales

Sparky, also known as “Sparky the Wonder Dog” or “The Avian Avenger”, joined Shoe on June 26th, 2012 after living for about 5-years in Kentucky. Sparky was asked to leave the Commonwealth after being implicated in a chicken massacre in which he has steadfastly denied involvement.

Since his arrival in Ohio, Sparky has proven himself to be a fun, intelligent, loyal, and non-bloodthirsty companion. He has made several friends and is now considered a resident of Ohio in good standing.

Sparky likes chasing balls, rabbits, small running children, and anything with wings. He also enjoys eating cheese balls, french fries and chicken nuggets. His dislikes include anything that runs, anything with wings, and hobos.

Sparky’s many talents include catching cheese balls from incredible distances and having a vertical leap of approximately 9 1/2 feet. He also catches houseflies by mouth on a consistent basis and once leaped from a moving car in an effort to catch and kill a squirrel.

His dream is to someday catch a bird in flight, hopefully a seagull, or make solid contact with a beggar’s throat through the car window as we roll by on the street.

Sparky insists that any connection between his hatred of winged creatures, love of chicken nuggets, and the accusations in Kentucky are purely coincidental.

What follows is the ever-growing collection of stories about the dog that is The Spark, beginning with my very first story about him. I hope you enjoy them . . .

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SPARKY

So I got Sparky a little over a month ago, and since that time we’ve been together constantly. We travelled down to Oak Island, up the coast to the Outer Banks, and back home in a little 10-day excursion. When we’ve been home he pretty much goes with me everywhere, except when it’s going to be too hot and he can’t stay in the car. And you know, when you spend a lot of time with somebody you learn a lot about them. Here are a few things I’ve learned about Sparky so far.

Sparky hates things that fly. As a matter of fact if you were to believe his accusers he hates anything with wings, as he may or may not have been involved in a chicken massacre back in his hometown. But that’s neither here nor there. Details are unclear and nothing was proven. Still, I do know with certainty that in a little over a month since I’ve had him, Sparky has gone after seagulls, sandpipers, sparrows, gnats, flies, crows, moths,  mosquitoes, my mom’s parakeet, an entire cage of assorted birds at PetCo, and a kid on the beach pretending to be an airplane. What’s interesting is that he can take or leave a cat, he doesn’t really give a damn. If it has wings, though, he’s going after it with murderous intent.

Sparky will chase anything that runs. O.K., remember what I just said about cats? That’s true . . . unless they run. Same for rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, or rhinoceroses. Size is of no consequence. If you run you will be pursued. Seriously, if an animal just sits there he’ll pay it no mind. If it runs? All hell breaks loose. The chase is on, and something must die. Now.

Note to self: Don’t take Sparky to track meets.

Sparky hates hobos. Regular people he has no problem with. But you know those guys who stand by the road out at WalMart with the signs begging for money? Sparky has no tolerance for those dudes. I had the window down as I cruised by one of them and thank God I had his leash on because Sparky went for it. And when I say “it” I mean the jugular. He lunged right out the window at the guy, and I thought for a second he was going for the sign, but then to my horror I realized he was going for the throat. Luckily I pulled him back in before blood was spilled. Either Sparky hates hobos or the guy smelled like chicken.

Sparky would rather jump than walk, always. I have a couch and a chair that are about 5-feet apart. If Sparky is on the couch and I am on the chair he invariably attempts the leap to get to me rather than simply hop down and trot over. Walk around a 4-foot wall? No way. Spark’s going over the top, and more often that not he makes it. In addition, if he wants something he’ll do a series of vertical pogo jumps straight up and down, practically looking me in the eye at his apex. Dude has a helluva set of hops.

Sparky has the reflexes of a mongoose. Well, at least when I throw cheese balls at him. You know, the little cheese puff balls you get in those industrial size plastic jars. I tell him to get on a chair, say “stay”, back away about 20-feet, and fire away. I’m telling you I can’t get a cheese ball by him. For fun I’ll lob some pop-ups for awhile, then just zip a line-drive at him for a change of pace.  He never misses. I’d say he has a 99.2% field percentage. Amazing.

And oh, you may want to avoid rushing towards me. Sparky gets a little tense when I’m approached in a hasty way. He perceives it as a threat to his best friend. Rush at him? No problem. Rush at me? Problem. He gets j-u-s-t a little protective. You’ll see a lot of growling and showing of teeth and whatnot. So, fair warning, approach respectfully and you’ll be treated thusly. You may even want to bow or even go to one knee first. Just a suggestion. And you know, it’s about time somebody understood the respect with which I should be treated.

Thanks Sparky.

SPARKY, PLUNDERER OF PANTS

So every day when I get ready for school Sparky is on the bed, eyeing me with a mixture of sadness, disappointment and contempt. He knows exactly what the deal is now and he’s not happy with it. Anyway, as I always do I grab my clothes out of the closet and toss them on the bed. This morning I do the same, and after getting everything I need I start getting dressed. I start to reach for my pants but there’s nothing there. What the . . .? I could have sworn I’d tossed them on the bed, in fact I knew I had. At that point I notice a certain Jack Russell Terrier is missing in action. This never happens. Then I walk into the living room and there’s Sparky, relaxing on the couch . . . on top of my pants. Yep, in a presumed attempt to keep me home the little hooligan had pilfered my pants.

I was so impressed I wasn’t even mad. Nice try Spark.

SPARKY TAKES FLIGHT

I’m sorry, I’m trying to cut back on the Sparky stories but stuff keeps happening. What can I say, Spark’s a whirling dervish of action, a surprise a minute. Having said that, he almost gave me a coronary today. Here’s the deal . . .

I had some errands to run in town today and of course Sparky came along. He has a new car seat that lets him look out the window while lying down in it. I know, I know, he’s spoiled but it was a gift and it’s pretty cool to boot. He likes to stick his head out the window like most dogs, so to safeguard I hook him to his leash and put the other end over the gearshift.

So we were cruising down a backroad at about 40-miles per hour when a squirrel cut in front of me. It was about 20-feet in front of the car so I had a chance to slow down a little to let it pass. What happened next was a blur, a flash, and horrific all at the same time. Sparky vaulted out the window like a hound possessed in pursuit of the squirrel. It’s as if he was shot out of a cannon, not even kidding. I swear he’s ridiculously intelligent, but apparently the smarts, along with Sparky, go out the window when a critter is on the run.

At this point I hit the brakes as Sparky hits the ground. Thank God he wears a harness because if the leash had been attached to a collar The Spark’s neck may have been broken. Come to think of it we’re lucky nobody was behind us as well. Anyway, I see the leash snap tight but it holds, so I take the leash off the gearshift as I open the passenger door, expecting tthe worst. What I got was Sparky jumping back up in his seat like nothing particularly unusual had happened, as if leaping out of a moving car was perfectly normal. At that point he got a terrier ass ripping, so he retreated to the back seat to avoid the verbal onslaught. No worries, I hurt his feelings for about 12-seconds, then he was back to his cocky little self. A few minutes later I pulled over in a parking lot to check him for injuries, and incredibly he seems to be fine. Well, except for a weird black smudge over his tail. Not a clue where that came from.

All in all, just another day in my life with Sparky.

OPERATION TOY RESCUE AND THE SWEEPER FROM HELL

This is the latest in a hopefully long series about Sparky, my Jack Russell Terrier who is with me as a result of some carnage involving chickens down in Kentucky. For the record, Spark has steadfastly denied involvement. Poultry bloodbath aside, the little canine dynamo has been a godsend and, as such, changed my life as I knew it.

All dogs hate sweepers, I know that. But my sweeper, at least according to Sparky, is the Life Sucking Toy Stealing Food Grabbing Water Burgling Raging Beast from The Netherworld. You see, when I get the sweeper out all hell breaks loose. Sparky goes into attack mode, with a dash of SWAT Team tossed in for good measure. As I sweep, the sweeper is repeatedly assailed from different angles. Spark seems to enjoy going for the wheels in particular. He seems to know that if he disables the wheels the horrific entity will be rendered nonfunctional. Sparky hates the wheels.

But here’s the thing. In between these dive-bomb kamikaze blitzes are periodic raids to save all that is Sparky’s. First, a buzz-through to grab his beloved Loofa Dog from the bed. The Loofa is always first. This is accomplished by vaulting over the sweeper (this is completely unnecessary, he totally goes out of his way to do this), bounding on the bed, grabbing the Loofa, springing back off the bed (twice as far as he needs to bound by the way), back over the sweeper (again unnecessarily) before escaping into the living room where the precious Loofa Dog is tucked under a pillow on the couch. Can’t let the Deadly Sweeper Fiend from Hell suck the Loofa into its Jaws of Death, now can we? This process is repeated with his other favorite toy, the Squeaky Duck, as well as various tennis balls, pull toys, an unfinished nylabone, a pine cone he brought in from the yard, and a pair of my boxers I’d left on the bed. Thanks Spark.

But yesterday Sparky took this ritual to a new level. After he’d extricated his possessions (and one of mine) from harm and certain destruction, he grabbed his food dish and took it into the living room, where it was then placed safely behind a chair. What he did next, however, surprised even me. He has one of those gallon water jugs that filters water into his bowl, which usually lasts a few days. I glance over and he’s trying to drag it into the next room. No way the monster was going to deprive Sparky of his water. There was also no way was he going to pull that off without major spillage so I had to make an executive decision and exert my power as Head of the House.

I shut down his act. Regretfully.

Actually it was so cute to watch I felt sorry for him and moved it for him, but that’s neither here nor there. My best friend is completely spoiled not spoiled.

So as you can see, cleaning the house at my place is not as mundane a process as it is in other households. It is, in fact, a blur of furry fury.

Sparky.

He’s been with me for just 83-days and I can’t remember what it was like without him. Thank God he killed those chickens.

Allegedly.

TERROR ON TAYLOR STREET: WHEN SPARKY ATTACKS

Well, this was terrifying.

So I’m sleeping like a baby the other night when I’m dragged slowly from the Land of Nod by a noise. It was a low, growling sound, sounding like a panther as it eyes its prey. I sat up and glanced at the clock. 3:17 A.M. Only then did I realize the noise I’d heard was Sparky. There he was, standing at the foot of the bed, growling, and staring at the doorway . . . and the dark hallway beyond.

That’ll wake a man up fairly quickly.

For a few seconds I did the same thing. Stare I mean. Growling would’ve just been weird. Anyway, I have a little sensor light by the backdoor inside the kitchen because I often have to let a certain 4-legged furball out in the pre-dawn hours. As Spark is growling and I’m staring into the darkened hallway, that light comes on. From two rooms away.

For a few seconds I was indecisive. Sparky? Not so much. He sprung into action like a Hound from Hell, leaping off the bed and tearing towards the kitchen. Whatever, or whoever, is out there is in for a war. I grab a Civil War era bayonet off the wall by my bed and follow. As Spark makes his charge he’s emitting a noise I’ve never heard from him before. He’s barking, but it’s a deeper, more feral sound, mixed with a growl, really frightening. I swear to God, at this point I was 100% sure sombody was in our kitchen. I also thought he’d picked the wrong house, because he was about to meet 18 pounds of pissed-off territory protecting terrier who happens to jump like a pogo stick and has a penchant for going for the throat. Just ask that homeless dude out by WalMart. Not to mention the 210 pound guy with the bayonet that was coming, not so much to engage in combat (I’d prefer he run), but there was no way he was going to hurt my best friend. Long story short, unless burgler dude had a gun he was in for a soul and larynx crushing defeat.

So I follow, through the hallway and back bedroom, into the kitchen. The whole sequence, from waking up to getting to the kitchen, probably took no more than 30-seconds. But when I got to the kitchen Sparky was there, going crazy and pawing at the backdoor. No intruder in sight. I checked the door and it was locked. Strange. I then did a quick search of the house, including the basement. Nothing. In the meantime, Spark was doing a search himself, behind chairs, under tables, still growling all the while. After we were convinced we were alone, I figured it would be a good idea to take him out for a quick look around the yard.

Other than dogs barking a block over, nothing. Still, dogs were barking . . .

Did somebody try to get in? Did Sparky hear the doorknob rattle? Could that have made the sensor come on? Was it nothing at all? Whatever it was, suffice it to say it took me awhile to fall back asleep, but I eventually did.

Sparky? He laid by my bedroom door, head on paws, watching. I tried to get him to come up with me on the bed, but he would have none of it. He was still there when my alarm went off at 6:00 A.M.

Man’s best friend? Damn straight.

SPARKY AND THE POWER SUIT

So I’m on my way to the bank after school yesterday, just cruising down West Main minding my own business and enjoying the beautiful weather. I had the passenger window down so The Spark could stick his head out, sniff the air and bark at random people. After his going airborn incident a few weeks ago I thought it would be prudent to wrap his leash around the gearshift. You know, in case he spotted a squirrel or a hobo or something. Sparky hates hobos. Anyway, as I approach the Gazette building I notice an attractive, nicely dressed middle-aged woman leaving and coming around the front of her parked car. She was wearing one of those power suits, really dressed for success and all. She had a briefcase in one hand, a bag slung over the other shoulder, and she was holding with both hands what looked like a stack of papers on a clipboard in front of her.

You know how the lanes on West Main are a little tight, right? Because of this I was sort of close to her car so she had to wait for me to pass, and as I approached I got a stone cold stare that seemed to ask, “What, you can’t stop for a lady, you low-life male chauvinist scumbag turd?” The answer was I probably could have but hey, I wasn’t really paying that close attention.

By the way, you know exactly where this is heading, don’t you?

What happened next is really sort of hard to describe. In my mind Sparky saw the smug look on the woman’s face and was simply doing what I would have done. You know, if I were a dog. Anyway, to say he barked at her doesn’t come close to what actually happened. As we passed her, very closely I might add, he leaped as far as his leash would let him while emitting a feral, ferocious and terrifying combination snarl/howl/roar. For a horrifying second I thought he got a piece of her throat or maybe her nose, but by the grace of God he air-snapped. At that point I looked in my sideview mirror and saw a bunch papers floating from the heavens and into the street. I swear it looked like 9/11 back there, just sheets fluttering everywhere.

And there, in the midst of the document shower, stood an angry businesswoman, hands on hips, glaring at my departing car and the savage canine contained within.

Sparky? He was wagging his tail and smiling at me like, “Heh-heh. Got her good, didn’t I dad?”

Oh yeah, Spark. You got her alright. Good.

I probably should have rounded the block and gone back to apologize, but the look on the woman’s face told me that might not be a good idea. I turned on Paint Street and finally hit a light, just sitting there shaking my head at my crazy-ass but extremely loyal and lovable dog. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see a guy pull up beside me. It’s a 30ish dude and there are tears in his eyes from laughing. He pounds the steering wheel and says, ”That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a woman in heels jump that high in my life! Papers everywhere! I gotta get me a dog like that!”

Sorry buddy, but you can’t. There’s only one dog like that, and I got him.

Just another day in my life with Sparky.

SPARKY VS. THE HOBOS

I’m not particularly proud of this, but Sparky’s not a fan of the homeless. Well, maybe not homeless people per se, but beggars in general. God, that sounds horrible. I swear Spark’s not a bad dog, he just has an ongoing War with the Hobos. It’s weird, because he’ll run up to anybody with his tail a waggin’, but if he sees a guy standing by the road with a sign asking for a handout he becomes unhinged. Seriously, he just goes to another place, and that place ain’t the land of unicorns, bunny rabbits and teddy bears.

Today I was going to The Walmart to pick up some stuff.

Note: Sorry, but a lot of things have THE before it with me. I had an uncle who prefaced everything with THE. For instance, He once told me that he heard Freddie Mercury had THE AIDS, and another time he told me I had an aunt who had THE CANCER. Hence the THE before a lot of stuff. Deal with it. 

Anyway, I’m cruising down Bridge Street, getting ready to turn right onto the road that leads to The WalMart. The window is down with it being a nice day and all, and I thought Spark might enjoy the fresh air and smells of oncoming Spring.

Turns out he smelled something, and Spring it wasn’t.

As we cross the bridge, a low growl emits from the throat of my best friend. He has spotted a hobo, from 300-yards away.  Keep in mind we’d driven through town and passed several innocent pedestrians, to which he’d never batted a canine eye. Other than that lady in the power suit he scared the living hell out of a few months ago, he rarely barks at people on the street.

Hobos and beggars asking for handouts? Yeah, different story.

The window went up.

So he’s working up a lather at the mere sight of this drifter dude, and when I make a right turn toward the guy Spark becomes an enraged ball of pissed-off puppery (I’m pretty sure that’s not a word but it’s my site and I don’t care. It sounds cool.) He’s bouncing off the rear interior of the car like a furry pinball, all the while snarling and yapping like he’s possessed by the ghost of Cujo.

My head is whipping back-and-forth like Linda Blair in The Exorcist as I try to calm Spark down and drive at the same time, but he’s a dog on a mission, and that mission is to apparently rip the throat out of an unsuspecting roadside tramp.

The closer we get, the more agitated and unglued my dog becomes. What is it with my sweet and loyal little Jack Russell Terrier and these panhandlers? I don’t get it. Was he menaced by a bearded and smelly dog-hater at some point? Does he not like Duck Dynasty style beards? Does he somehow sense they’re running a scam? Does he hate people looking for helping hand? Wait. Horror of horrors, is my dog a right-wing conservative?

As we passed the vagrant, Spark took it up one more notch and actually threw himself against the car window, and I was watched in the rearview mirror the poor guy actually took a step backwards as if expecting Spark to come hurtling through the window, knock him down, pull a vein out of his neck and kill him.

For a second I almost rolled my window gown to give the hobo a “Sorry man!” wave but I instantly realized Spark would take advantage of that opportunity way too quickly. He was a pup possessed.

The window stayed up.

I actually parked at the far end of the Walmart lot, lest Mr. Hobo Hater catch a glimpse of his mortal enemy while I was inside and lose his gourd. Still, I turned around and checked several times before I went inside, half expecting to see the door pop open and Spark make a mad charge across the lot, roaring as he went in for the slaughter.

Thankfully, our roadside adversary was gone by the time we left, thus I avoided another riveting episode of Sparky vs. The Roadside Vagabond. Again, I have no idea why my beloved companion has such an aversion to these people, but I have to roll with it because, well, what choice do I have? I love the little guy.

So, you guys standing by the road with signs? You have been warned. And you’d better hope I remember to keep my windows up.

THINGS SPARKY HATES: THE TOP 10

Listen, The Spark is a good dog. He’s never nipped at anybody (well, if you don’t count the people he’s lunged at from the car window). That said, there are some things he doesn’t care for. Much has been well-documented on this site. Just type “Sparky” in that little search box on the left to read about his antics and adventures.

Anyway, since it’ll be a year next month when I first laid eyes on my best friend, I thought I’d list his Top 10 dislikes, from 1 being “pure hatred” to 10 being “regular hatred”. OK, maybe he purely hates them all. In any event, here ya go . . .

10. Drive -Thru Window Workers

It’s gotten to the point where I dread going thru drive-thrus. I’m pretty sure Spark made a CVS Pharmacy Tech wet his pants the other day. Here’s the thing. Sparky knows when I’m approaching a drive-thu so he lurks in the backseat. Then, when the person comes to the window, he makes his move, coming over my left shoulder like a furball from hell. Seriously, I witnessed a 42-year old man shriek like an 11-year old girl at a Beiber concert the other day. You ever apologize to a guy whose shaking with tears in his eyes while handing you a Nexium prescription? Awkward.

9.  Women in Power Suits

You know, I rate this at #9 because I don’t know if it was the Power Suit or the fact the woman was near his window. I just know he scared the bejesus out of the her that day and may have committed an atrocity had I not stopped him. If you didn’t read the sordid details, here ya go.

8. Thunder

Let’s be perfectly clear here. Sparky is not afraid of thunder, he wants to kill it. When it thunders he races around the house, leaping on and off the furniture whilst raising hell with the heavens. This includes growling, barking furiously, and jumping like a pogo stick while nipping at the air. Spark hates the thunder.

7. 18-wheelers

I have a strong suspicion that Spark may have had a run-in with a big rig at some point in his life. We can be a 1/2 mile from the highway, but if he hears a semi-truck he gives me this stricken look and runs to my side, cowering and growling. Spark ain’t afraid, but he’s certainly hyper-aware where the big trucks are concerned.

6. Car Washes

Wanna see a show? Ride through a car wash with me. Spark tries in vain to get a piece of anything that comes near the windows. I swear he runs a circle around the inside of the car, across the dash, down the sides of the car, across the back window, yapping all the while. Spark thinks the car wash is trying to hurt me and he can’t have that, now can he?

5. Sweepers

I documented Spark’s loathing of sweepers in the acclaimed blog Sparky: Operation Toy Rescue and the Sweeper from Hell. I won’t repeat that here, let’s just say my dog growls when he walks by the closet where my sweeper resides. Not even kidding.

4. Wood Floors

This is the weirdest thing, but Spark hates to walk across wooden floors. I don’t know if he was maybe running and slid acrosss the floor into the wall or something, but he’ll literally leap from rug-to-rug rather than touch a wooden floor. If he can’t make the bound he’ll pause, stare at the floor, and make a calculated leap to avoid the dreaded surface.

3.  Hobos

Yeah, you all know this. I’ve written about it before. The Spark hates hobos. Homeless people. Beggars. Vagrants. Panhandlers. I’m not proud that my pup has no sympathy for the less fortunate, but facts are facts. Spark can spot a guy asking for handouts by the road from a mile away.

2. People Rushing Towards Us

Let’s put it this way. Don’t run at The Spark and I. Approach with respect and reverence. Oh, and caution. If he thinks you’re going to hurt me, he’s going to hurt you. You have been warned.

1. Anything with Wings.

As I put it in another blog, Sparky has gone after seagulls, sandpipers, sparrows, gnats, flies, buzzards (seriously), wasps, crows, moths,  mosquitoes, my mom’s parakeet, an entire cage of assorted birds at PetCo, and a kid on the beach pretending to be an airplane.

And do I have to mention the chicken allegations?

SPARKY SAVED MY LIFE TODAY

He really, REALLY did. I’ll go to my grave believing that. Because today I may have found out SparkySmilewhy Sparky and I ended up together.

Now, those of you that read my stuff regularly know that I don’t go for the “everything happens for a reason” stuff. I’ve always thought people said that to help them deal with things they can’t comprehend or understand, and that by believing that there’s some Master Plan behind terrible events in their lives it helps them to cope.

Today I second guessed that line of thinking.

It happened on Bridge Street. I was stopped at the intersection in front of Roosters, heading north. On my right was the off-ramp from Route 35. Spark was on the seat beside me, sleeping.

Or so I thought.

When the light turned green, I started pulling out. At that point Sparky started yowling, just screeching and bellowing like I’d never heard before. I naturally looked at him to see what was wrong, and he was looking quickly back-and-forth between me and out the window.

It was then that I saw it.

An 18-wheeler carrying automobiles had come flying down the off-ramp, shot right through the red light and barreled through the intersection not 5-feet from my front fender. It shot by me and, as I watched, crossed the intersection and on to what I assume was the auto dealership behind Roosters.

For a second I froze, then felt my knees become weak and start shaking. As I drove on I felt a lick on my elbow. I then had a moment of total clarity as I looked at my best friend, who was staring up at me.

That’s why you came to me.

I know, maybe I’m crazy. But I do know for certain that he saw that truck coming.

And he warned me.

Otherwise I’m 99% sure I wouldn’t be typing this right now.

I always knew that Spark came along at just the right time in my life, precisely when I needed a little unconditional love, a true friend, somebody who would accept me and love me in spite of my many faults. Yep, he’d already saved me in a lot of ways.

But today? He literally saved my life.

POPULARITY SCORE: SPARKY 3, ME 0

So I ran up to the outlets outside of Court House today to pick up some stuff for my upcoming trips to North Carolina and the Caribbean. I left Spark in the car but soon realized it was a little too hot for him so I went back, got him, and took him for a stroll around the mall.

Anyway, as we’re walking around we run into several different people that we know. I say “we” because here are the responses we received:

“Sparky! Hey! It’s Sparky!”

“Hey Shoe, what’s up?”

“Sparky! The Spark! Come here buddy!”

“SPARKY! IT’S SPARKY! Can I pet him? Look, IT’S SPARKY!”

So, to review, Sparky and I went to the mall today, ran into some people we knew (3 couples and a small group of 5-6), and of the four encounters, three addressed Sparky before they addressed yours truly.

Now that I think of it I was actually sort of an afterthought. After they’d finish showering my dog with affection they’d look up and say, “Hey, how ya doin’?”

Listen, I know I don’t have the best people skills but what the hell? My dog has more friends than I do now?

Good grief.

YOU KNOW HOW I KNOEW WHAT SPARKY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS? BECAUSE HE TOLD ME.

Seriously. He told me.SparkSnowman3

Listen, I expect approximately 9-people who read this to believe me, and those are all dog-loving freaks such as myself. I could literally name the people right now who will respond and say as much. As for the rest of you, I know you’ll think I’m batshit crazy, and I won’t blame you a bit.

As anyone who lives alone with a dog can tell you, after awhile you begin treating your dog like a human. By the way, is that an oxymoron or what? You can’t live alone if you have a dog. Anyway, most of the stuff is normal, like, “Do you want to go outside?” or “Do you want a treat?” You know, regular  things you say to a dog.

However, when it’s just you and the dog I think you sort of take your communication up a notch.

For instance, I’ve actually made the following comments to Sparky with a straight face:

“Stay here Spark. I’m going to go throw a load in the washer.”

“Spark, can give me your thoughts on the European Debt Crisis”

“Well, what did you think, Spark? Should I ask her out again?”

You know, stuff like that. I respect Spark’s opinion, especially regarding that last one.

Keep this in mind as I recount my latest Sparky Experience. This morning I was in the bedroom getting dressed. The TV was on, a commercial came on that for some reason reminded me of Christmas. Just making conversation, I said, “Christmas is in a couple months Spark. What do you want this year?”

Sparky then looks at me, cocks his head, and runs over to a basket on the other side of the room where we keep his toys. Then he digs to the bottom and pulls something out. The next thing I see in front of me is this:

SparkSnowman1

That’s the snowman toy I gave Spark for Christmas last year. This actually happened. I just sat there with mouth open, looking at him.

Like I said, he told me what he wants for Christmas.

I know there are a lot of people who scoff at us dog lovers and our stories of how smart our pooches are, but I’d like one of the skeptics to step up and explain this one. Did the word “Christmas” set off something in his brain? Had to, right? Somehow, he made the connection.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do some Christmas shopping.

SPARKY WON’T SHARE, IS POOR PLAYING PARTNER

He took his ball and went home.

SPARKY IS A CONFUSING DOG

So Sparky is afraid of wooden floors. I actually had to buy a couple throw rugs to place SparkySmilestrategically around the house so he can navigate his way around. He’ll literally stop at the edge of a rug as if he’s getting ready to jump across a precipice with a 1000 foot drop, then make an exaggerated leap to the safety of the next rug.

Still, yesterday we go down to my parent’s house to visit. I let him out of the car and he races around the yard, smelling stuff, barking at birds and doing his usual shtick. I go up the steps to answer the door and call for him but he doesn’t respond. I then walk around the deck and there he is, on their lake, running and sliding across the ice like a lunatic, just having a blast.

So, to reiterate – terrified of wooden floors, has no fear of ice on a lake.

Sparky is a weird dog.

FIVE-THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY TO ME ABOUT MY DOG

I love dogs. I think that’s pretty clear. I believe they’re 100-times smarter than anyone SparkySmileknows and I think they’re here solely to make us happy. I’ve had dogs that have meant much more to me than most humans ever could. I still can’t speak of my little Scottish Terrier Delaney without getting all emotional.

But as hard as it is for me to comprehend, some people don’t like dogs. Other people sort of like dogs but don’t want to get too close. They like them to pet and to look at, but they really don’t want to commit, ya know? Other people hate dogs.

I truly believe that what writer Charles Doran said is true, and it offers a great yardstick for judging human character:

“Folks will know how large your soul is by the way you treat a dog.”

Amen.

As for me, I can tell immediately which kind of person you are when my dog Sparky runs up to you:

  • Steps back, looks afraid or annoyed = Dislikes dogs = I’ll probably dislike you.
  • Reaches down, pats Spark on the head, stands back up = Likes dogs, doesn’t own one, can take them or leave them.
  • Immediately gets a huge smile on face, drops to Spark’s level, rubs him behind the ears until Spark rolls over for a belly rub = Loves dogs.

Oh, and there’s one more type:

  • Yells, “SPARKY! IT’S SPARKY! LOOK EVERYONE, IT’S SPARKY!”, then drops to the ground, pets Sparky, and asks for a picture = Sparky Groupie. Spark has a lot of fans, you know.

That said, there are certain things people should never say if they want to be my friend. These are what I call the deal breakers. I just can’t help myself. Here they are:

“Dogs should not be allowed on the furniture!”

B-W-A-H-A-H-A-H-A! Seriously? Walk away, sista. Not only is Sparky allowed on the furniture, he thinks it’s there for him. And he sleeps with me, on my bed, under the covers. And no worries, Spark is a great wingman. He respects my privacy and will keep his distance if the situation requires it. But when it’s just he and I my pooch has free reign. On a related note, anyone who wants to be a significant part of my life has to get the paws-up from The Spark. Sorry Kate Beckinsale, but if Spark’s not into you neither am I. I can’t believe I just said that.

“There’s no way your dog understands everything you’re saying.”  

You, my friend, are an idiot. Not only does my dog know what I’m saying, he knows what I’m going to say before I say it. In fact, most times I don’t even have to say it because he reads my mind. All I have to do is look at Sparky. The Spark knows.

“Eww! You shouldn’t let your dog kiss you!”

False. I’ll tell you straight up – my dog kisses me right on the lips. If that grosses you out you need to look elsewhere for a boyfriend. A pooch smooch is alright by me, folks. If you don’t like it, don’t let the doggie door hit you on the way out.

“I can’t believe you take that dog everywhere with you!”

Why wouldn’t I? Number one, he insists. Number two, Spark’s my Road Dog. He’s been to the Outer Banks, Oak Island, Washington DC, Gettysburg, and a million other places. How could I look him in the eye when I got back otherwise? He literally goes everywhere around town with me too. My buddies are used to getting in my car, only to have Spark leap from the backseat onto their lap for some snuggling. And there are a couple establishments around town where, when people go out for a smoke, they walk over and say hello to Spark. Sparky’s a popular pup, man. The only exception is the really hot summer days, and Spark’s been harassing me to get a remote car starter so I can correct that little problem.

“You can come but don’t bring the dog.”

This has been said to me approximately zero times. People know better. Still, I’d never take Sparky to a wedding, simply because he’d divert attention from the bride. Yes, he’s that notorious popular. Funerals I can’t guarantee. Hell, he might be just what the doctor ordered for the bereaved. Pretty much anything else is wide-open, although if I want to be left alone Sparky’s not the guy to have with me. Spark’s a babe magnet, lemme tell ya. Dude’s got the kind of game you read about.

Need more proof that I love dogs? Nah, didn’t think so. I think writer Konrad Lorenz sad it best:

“A true bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this Earth can ever be.” 

And that, my friends, is the truth.

SPARKY? SPOILED? SAY IT AIN’T SO.

Several times over the past few months people have made the comment that my lovable little best friend is spoiled.

SparkGame2

He’s laughing at me.

Sparky? Spoiled? I say hogwash! Balderdash! Poppycock! Horsefeathers! No way my Spark is spoiled.

However, a few facts have been pointed out to me over the past few months that might, just might, be construed as the Spoiling of The Spark. To wit:

  • Sparky has a bed in my living room. This is in no way abnormal, is it? Every dog needs a bed to curl up on in front of the fireplace.
  • Sparky has another bed in the living room. Well, this one’s on a chair, but sometimes he gets tired of being on the floor, ya know? And besides, he can see out the window from the chair. Gotta keep an eye out for birds. Or a wayward chicken.
  • Sparky has a bed in the car. So he has a little bed on the passenger seat. So what? He needs to be comfortable when he’s waiting on me to get back from whatever important mission I’m undertaking. It’s the least I can do for him.
  • Sparky has another bed in the backseat of the car. Hey, it was a gift. Plus it’s one of those high ones that allows him to search for hobos in which to kill.
  • Sparky has a bed in my bedroom. There are times, my friends, when a pooch needs quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle of the living room. Therein lies the need for a bed in the bedroom. That’s just Dogs 101, people.
  • Sparky has a bed on my bed.  Hey, it was a bed from the crate he came in, and The Spark don’t do crates no mo’. No way I could throw it out. You know, sentimental value and whatnot.

In addition, I have been reminded that I have been known to drive into town to buy him Chicken McNuggets. Perhaps this could be construed as overzealous on my part. I’m sorry, but the closest McDonald’s is there, so what would you suggest I do? From time-to-time, Spark needs his chicken fix.

Some might point out that, for dinner, The Spark gets a special blend of Beneful Savory Rice & Lamb Stew and Simply Nourish Chicken & Pasta, mixed with some Beneful Healthy Weight Moist and Chewy Chunks. After much experimentation, Sparky and I have determined this to be his favorite recipe. So shoot me.

And can a dog have too many toys? I think not. Sparky has his Loofa Dog, Squeaky Duck, Mr. Flappy, Mr. Hedgehog, Flat Rabbit, Octopus, Mr. Purple and his One-legged Santa Claus, among others. He also has a Hol-ee Roller Ball, a Kong Dental Stick, a Nylabone Crazy Ball, a Busy Buddy Tug-a-Jug and a Rhino Stuff & Chew, but that’s nether here nor there. Because hey, he plays with them all, depending on the mood. And believe me, Sparky is a complex canine, a mutt of many moods if you will.

So other than what I just told you and a few hundred more, I can think of no other examples of Sparky being spoiled.

So like I said, Sparky spoiled? What a ridiculous thought.

P.S. – After re-reading all of the above I have to admit something. Damn, have I spoiled my dog.

P.S.S. – He’s worth it.

 

DAMN IT, SPARKY!

SparkLogoThis evening I had the scare of my life. Sparky had a scrap with a coyote. You heard that right – a COYOTE. Here’s what happened . . .

Spark and I like to walk up around the new housing development north of Bourneville, across from the graveyard. There are only two houses there so far, but the street circles off of Twin Road and connects back with it again, so it makes for a nice evening walk. I never have him on a leash when we go there, since Sparky is generally well-behaved. Well, unless he sees a squirrel or something with feathers. Other animals, like other dogs or a cat, don’t usually illicit much interest.

So around 6:00 this evening we’re on the back side of the development, enjoying the nice weather. I have a long walking stick in case we’d run into a groundhog or something, as you never know for certain how my pooch could react to something unusual.

It’s not odd for Sparky to go darting into the fields around my house if he sees something of interest, so it wasn’t a big deal when Spark stopped and perked up his ears.

Then, however, the growling began. I’d heard it before, most notably the night we thought somebody was trying to get into our back door.

I followed Sparky’s sightline back into the woods, and just over the crest of a hill, about 30-yards away, I saw it – the head of a coyote, staring at us.

What the hell, didn’t they wait until dark to go out hunting?

Before I could grab him, Sparky made his charge. All I could think of was stories I’d read of one coyote acting as bait, luring another animal into a trap, a pack of coyotes. I mean, Spark is one tough hombre, but I could see he might be getting in a little over his head here.

Bottom line, I was terrified. Sparky was way ahead of me and I couldn’t see the coyote any more. I just ran as fast as I could after my best friend, yelling for him to come back:

“Sparky!”

“SPARKY!!!”

Nothing.

I burst through some underbrush into a clearing and stopped. It was eerily quiet, and for a second I didn’t know which way to go. Then, to my left I heard it – barking and growling, the obvious noises of a fight. I knew that one of the voices I heard was Sparky’s, and I headed that way. I swear to God I expected to find him being torn to shreds by a pack of snarling coyotes.

Instead, when I got to where I thought I’d heard the fight there was nothing. Again, it was oddly quiet. I stood there, desperately trying to hear something, anything.

123

Silence. I thought I’d lost him for good.

Except then, strutting out of some bushes like he’d just saved my life, was my pint-sized, fearless friend.

Then he rolled over for a belly-rub.

Ain’t no thing, dad. Just went to war with a Hound from Hell. What’s for dinner?

I picked him up and gave him a thorough going over, checking for bites or scratches. Alas, nothing. He was fine.

And I was too relieved to even be mad at him.

But boy, did he scare the hell out of me. And let’s just say the leash will be used the next time we take that particular route.

Life with Sparky. It is never, ever boring.

But damn it, Sparky!

IT’S SPARKY’S WORLD, I’M JUST LIVING IN IT

So I’m in Chillicothe the other day doing some shopping, and as I pulled into the lot of a local mall I notice that I’ve parked 2-cars down from a jeep nearly identical to the one I drive. Same year, same color, same bug guard, same rain guards. As I parked it crossed my mind that I’d probably come back out and attempt to get in the wrong jeep, being the moron that I am. However, I quickly forgot about it as I walked into a store.

Probably 10-minutes later (I’m a quick shopper – real quick) as I was exiting the store I saw a woman walking towards the two jeeps and carrying some bags of clothes or something. For some reason I stopped and watched, because I had a weird feeling she was going to do what I thought I’d do – pick the wrong vehicle.

Sure enough, since my jeep was closer to the store she walked right towards it. She hit her remote keyless entry, assumed she’d unlocked her jeep, and grabbed the door handle.

I don’t know if she saw or heard the Fury of the Spark first. From my vantage point I saw a blurry, enraged Canine from Hell slam against the window as my loyal companion threw himself toward the intruder. The windows were cracked, so I also heard a snarling, growling sound that Spark usually reserves only for winged-creatures, hobos, and the occasional lady in a power suit.

As I hung back and watched, the lady screeched and stumbled backwards into the side of a 1999 Dodge Ram Pickup, dropping a bag in the process. And of this I can’t be certain, but I’m 77% sure she may have wet her pants.

For a few seconds she stared at the jeep, uncertain how an obviously rabies-infested Jack Russell Terrier had broken into her vehicle and attempted to rip her throat out. In the meantime Spark was running from the front seats to the rear window, raising hell all the while, growling and yapping and looking for a way out in order to assassinate this hideous monster who was trying to break into his dad’s jeep.

Somehow, someway, the woman got herself together enough to look into my jeep (albeit from a distance of approximately 10-feet) and ascertain that she had indeed chosen the wrong car in which to enter. Trust me when I say she took a wide berth when going around my vehicle to her own.

As for me, I stayed well back until she was long gone. When I walked to my jeep, however, Sparky barked and let me know all was well as he looked out the window in the direction of the parting would-be car thief.

What can I say? Sparky has my back. And also my property.

Good dog, Sparky. Good dog.

I can only pray he never figures out how to operate the door handles.

SPARKY AND THE HORSEFLY FROM HELL

I was taking The Spark for a walk today when we encountered the Horsefly from Hell. I mean this gjgtugjthing was the size of a sparrow, and it came out of nowhere, just relentless in its efforts to kill me. Horseflies try to bite you for your blood, you know that, right? Well, this one thought my bald head looked mighty tasty, because he would not cease in his vicious attack. I first felt it on the back of my head and I swatted it away, thinking that was the end of it.

No chance.

The monster kept circling and dive-bombing me, trying its best to get a piece of my flesh. I was swatting and punching at it as I did a series of pirouettes, leaps and punches. I was also yelling at it, which seems a bit silly now. I don’t know, do horseflies even have ears? If this one did he sure wasn’t listening.

All the while Sparky was leaping up and down himself, snapping at the winged-beast and trying to bring it down from its deadly arc.

At one point the horsefly made a direct charge for my face and I knocked it away, but not before hitting myself in the nose so hard it brought tears to my eyes. Damn, that hurt.

Finally the behemoth made a costly mistake – it flew within The Spark’s range. Sparky timed his leap perfectly, pogoed up like a furry canine bouncy ball, and snatched the freak from the sky.

It was instant death. Spark then picked up the carcass and whipped it away with a toss of his head, dismissing the mutant for the trash that it was.

As I bent over checking for injuries both self-inflicted and otherwise, Sparky trotted over, rose up and licked my nose, telling me that all was well and he’d saved me once again.

Good dog Sparky. Good dog.

SparkySmile

 

SPARKY VS. THE HOBOS

I’m not particularly proud of this, but Sparky’s not a fan of the homeless. Well, maybe not homeless people per se, but beggars in general. God, that sounds horrible. I swear Spark’s not a bad dog, he just has an ongoing War with the Hobos. It’s weird, because he’ll run up to anybody with his tail a waggin’, but if he sees a guy standing by the road with a sign asking for a handout he becomes unhinged. Seriously, he just goes to another place, and that place ain’t the land of unicorns, bunny rabbits and teddy bears.

Today I was going to The Walmart to pick up some stuff.

Note: Sorry, but a lot of things have THE before it with me. I had an uncle who prefaced everything with THE. For instance, He once told me that he heard Freddie Mercury had THE AIDS, and another time he told me I had an aunt who had THE CANCER. Hence the THE before a lot of stuff. Deal with it. 

Anyway, I’m cruising down Bridge Street, getting ready to turn right onto the road that leads to The Walmart. The window is down with it being a nice day and all, and I thought Spark might enjoy the fresh air and smells of the beautiful day.

Turns out he smelled something, and the beautiful day it wasn’t.

As we cross the bridge, a low growl emits from the throat of my best friend. He has spotted a hobo, from 300-yards away.  Keep in mind we’d driven through town and passed several innocent pedestrians, to which he’d never batted a canine eye. Other than that lady in the power suit he scared the living hell out of a few months ago, he rarely barks at people on the street.

Hobos and beggars asking for handouts? Yeah, different story.

The window went up.

So he’s working up a lather at the mere sight of this drifter dude, and when I make a right turn toward the guy Spark becomes an enraged ball of pissed-off puppery (I’m pretty sure that’s not a word but it’s my site and I don’t care. It sounds cool.) He’s bouncing off the rear interior of the car like a furry pinball, all the while snarling and yapping like he’s possessed by the ghost of Cujo.

My head is whipping back-and-forth like Linda Blair in The Exorcist as I try to calm Spark down and drive at the same time, but he’s a dog on a mission, and that mission is to apparently rip the throat out of an unsuspecting roadside tramp.

The closer we get, the more agitated and unglued my dog becomes. What is it with my sweet and loyal little Jack Russell Terrier and these panhandlers? I don’t get it. Was he menaced by a bearded and smelly dog-hater at some point? Does he not like Duck Dynasty style beards? Does he somehow sense they’re running a scam? Does he hate people looking for helping hand? Wait. Horror of horrors, is my dog a right-wing conservative?

As we passed the vagrant, Spark took it up one more notch and actually threw himself against the car window, and I was watched in the rearview mirror the poor guy actually took a step backwards as if expecting Spark to come hurtling through the window, knock him down, pull a vein out of his neck and kill him.

For a second I almost rolled my window gown to give the hobo a “Sorry man!” wave but I instantly realized Spark would take advantage of that opportunity way too quickly. He was a pup possessed.

The window stayed up.

I actually parked at the far end of the Walmart lot, lest Mr. Hobo Hater catch a glimpse of his mortal enemy while I was inside and lose his gourd. Still, I turned around and checked several times before I went inside, half expecting to see the door pop open and Spark make a mad charge across the lot, roaring as he went in for the slaughter.

Thankfully, our roadside adversary was gone by the time we left, thus I avoided another riveting episode of Sparky vs. The Roadside Vagabond. Again, I have no idea why my beloved companion has such an aversion to these people, but I have to roll with it because, well, what choice do I have? I love the little guy.

So, you guys standing by the road with signs? You have been warned. And you’d better hope I remember to keep my windows up.

SPARKY VS. THE FEATHERED MENACE

So I ran into The Krog yesterday to pick up some necessities. When I go grocery shopping one thing is a constant – I never make the right choice for carrying everything I buy. If I take nothing I inevitably need a basket. If I choose a basket I should’ve taken a shopping cart. Because of this I’m constantly overloading and dropping stuff on the floor, much to the consternation of Kroger employees. Today I chose a basket and it was so full I dropped a 2-liter bottle of pop, twice. I’d filled the basket to the brim so I had the pop under my arm, hence the droppage. After that I dropped a big bottle of Listerine and in the process scared the bejesus out of an old woman in front of me. Bottom line, I always underestimate what I’m about to buy.

On a related note, because I refuse to make more than one trip from Jeep to house I’m pretty sure I’m the world record holder for amount of grocery bags carried at one time. My personal best is 15, so beat that suckers.

But on to the point of this blog. Like I said, I grabbed some necessities and when I brought them back to the Jeep Sparky was unusually interested in the grocery bags. He was sniffing and whimpering like a live chicken was in one of the bags or something. While he was a little over the top, I just assumed he was smelling his beloved Cheesehead All-Natural String Cheese, a noted Spark favorite.

This behavior continued when I got home, to the point of becoming annoying. He was doing his famous Sparky dance, hopping on his hind legs while waving his front paws at me like a lunatic. It was when I put the grocery bags on the floor that everything became clear. Spark reached in and grabbed his target with the speed of a mongoose, making off with it and running into the bedroom.

Was it the cheese? The lunch meat? Hell nah. It was a menacing, life-threatening item I’d purchased in the cleaning aisle. It was a dreaded, evil feather duster.

Spark had snatched the offending beast in his jaws and carried it to the bedroom in the blink of an eye, attacking it with a vengeance heretofore only seen when a fat kid consumed a carnival corn dog.

After a short battle I wrestled the monster away from him and tucked in safely in a closet, only to watch Spark paw at the bottom of the door until I lured him away with a cheese doodle.

What can I say? It had to be the feathers. Sparky’s hatred for feathered-creatures has been well-documented, and perhaps he detected the scent of peacock or something.

Yep, somewhere in Sparky’s past he must have had a historic confrontation with some pterodactyl-like beast or perhaps a canary.

But man, does Sparky hate anything with wings or feathers.

Note: Yes, I bought a feather duster. Deal with it.

ghfjh

 SPARKY 173, STORMS 0

Many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms. They hate thunder and lightning. Some even hide behind the couch or under the bed.

Sparky? Not so much.

When he hears thunder-boomers what does he do? He begs to be let out, and when he’s free he goes on the attack. He races pell-mell, full tilt and headlong into the mix, yapping and growling at the skies above, just raising holy hell.

Spark wants a piece of whatever is making that hellacious noise.

And in Sparky’s mind, he always wins. Because sooner or later the beast that is making the ruckus goes away, all because The Spark drove it off with his hell-raising Tazmanian Devil routine.

And afterwards, he inevitably comes strutting back in as if he saved me, and the world, from some horrifying fate worse than death.

Me? I always praise him for his fearless, life-saving effort.

Thanks Spark!

SELLING SPARKY

As I was writing my story about Sparky on his birthday I was reminded of something that SparkyAlerthappened a year or so ago. I’m not really sure why I haven’t told it before, perhaps I was a little concerned about people’s reactions to it, I don’t know. I’m sure a some of you will think I’m a complete idiot after reading it, but ultimately I don’t really care.

Like I said, a year or so ago I got an email from a woman in California, Los Angeles to be exact. She had read all my stories about Sparky and was very interested in him. She informed me that her job was to search for animals, in particular dogs, with a “high level of intelligence.” She said when she found a candidate she would take it for a few days, run it through a series of tests, and determine it’s intelligence level. If she found what she was looking for, she would offer to buy the dog and sell it to be used for things like bomb-sniffing, rescue operations, guiding the blind, but mostly for TV and movies.

She said that from everything I’d written about Sparky, she suspected very strongly that he was exactly what she was looking for. She said she’d found hundreds of dogs over the years and he fit the description of what she needed perfectly. She then offered to fly me to California, and if her suspicions were correct, she’d offer me a minimum of $50,000.00 for my dog.

Wow.

$50,000.00.

50 G’s.

50 Grand.

Man, could I use $50,000.00. Plus, I knew that once she met Spark she’d offer more if I bargained with her. Hey, I’d given Sparky those online dog intelligence tests and he always got a perfect score. Spark’s always been off the charts.

Did I mention that $50,000.00+ is a lot of money?

Man, I had to give this a lot of thought, and I did.

If you consider 2 1/2 seconds of thought “a lot.”

Because it wasn’t happening. No. Freaking. Way. I told her there was no price she could offer me that I would accept. Oh, she tried to convince me otherwise, but it soon became apparent to her that she was fighting a losing battle.

Because you can’t put a price on certain things. You know, like loyalty and unconditional love. Plus I could have never just handed him over and walked away in a million years. Couldn’t do it. Wouldn’t do it.

Ever.

After all, take a look at that photo at the top of this story. Could anyone simply take a check and walk away from that face? Not me.

So attention all people searching for highly intelligent dogs – mine isn’t for sale.

At any price.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SPARKY!

Two years ago today I was visiting a friend in Kentucky when a little 20-pound, 4-legged SparkySmiledynamo came into my life. It was the morning and I was in the backyard rubbing a horse on the nose when I first heard him. In the distance I heard a yapping, and it was getting closer by the second. I looked to my left and there he came, charging down a hill like a bat out of hell. He came to a fence but leaped through it without slowing down.

As he approached I thought he would surely leap up, take a bite out of my throat and kill me. But alas, I got down on my knees and he just ran up, rolled over, and let me rub his belly. Thus began a relationship that would change my life as I know it.

It was a week or so later that I got a call telling me that he had run into a bit of trouble, his family was looking for somebody to take him in, and they thought I might be interested.

After about 3-seconds of thought, I agreed to adopt the little dog named Sparky.

You probably need to know that I had gone through a break-up a few months earlier, and for the first time in a long time I was living by myself. To say that Sparky proceeded to fill a void is quite an understatement.

He soon became my constant companion, confidant, and best friend. He listened when I needed an understanding ear, he never left my side, and yes, he loved me unconditionally.

Sparky didn’t care about my hang-ups, inadequacies or shortcomings. He didn’t care that I was impatient or wasn’t a great listener.

He loved me just the way I am.

Sparky and I celebrate 2-years together today, and to be honest I don’t know what I’d do without him. I love that little dog more than anything, and that’s a fact.

He came along at exactly the right time, and he was exactly what I needed.

Happy Birthday Spark. I love you.

SPARKY SURPRISES ME. AGAIN.

I didn’t think Sparky could surprise me anymore, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t do just that.

Anybody who has read my Sparky stories knows how smart he is. The little dudeSpark1 does things that boggle my mind, and my mind is not easily boggled. However, recently he’s been doing something so amazing that I’ve hesitated telling anyone other than my most dog-loving friends for fear of being viewed as a lunatic. Here’s the dizzle . . .

One cold winter’s day a few week’s ago I was driving down the road as Sparky lounged on the passenger seat. Suddenly he got up and began rooting around the dashboard area in front of the gearshift, like he was looking for something. I thought maybe he smelled some food or something that had fallen into a little storage area there, but alas, nothing.

He did this a few other times, just poking around for no apparent reason. I was confused because he was sort of poking his nose at the dash. It was weird.

Then, one day it hit me, but my suspicions were so outrageous that even I couldn’t believe them. No, surely not. No way. Impossible.

But I had to find out.

The next frigid morning Spark and I hopped into my Jeep. Well, I climbed, he hopped. Anyway, he got into his spot in the passenger seat as I watched closely. Soon he rose up and poked around the lower dashboard area again, just like he’d been doing. At that point it happened . . .

As I watched, I witnessed my dog press his nose against a button on the dash.

The button that turned on the heated seats. The seat on the passenger side. His seat.

He’d apparently made the connection between seeing me hit the button and the seat getting warm. He’d decided to take matter into his own paws, so to speak.

Listen, I know some of you are questioning my sanity, but I don’t really care. This is a dog, after all, that puts the windows down in the car when he wants to and helps keep our house tidy by putting his toys away with regularity, all on his own and without being taught. He also wakes me up occasionally by dropping various items on my face, but that’s another story.

So anyway, yeah, my dog has been turning on the seat warmer in my car so he’ll be more comfortable. Man, that sounds really weird when I actually read that sentence.

Just another experience in my life with Sparky.

Note: And yes, I know what you’re thinking. I’d been warming his side all winter, that’s how he made the connection. Why would I warm the seat for a dog, you ask? Because he clearly liked it and would lie down on his belly ever time I turned it on. Hey, I love the guy, what can I say?

DAMN IT, SPARKY! (PART 341)

So I stopped to get gas this morning and picked up one of those 8-oz cans of Planter’s Cashews to snack upon. I grabbed a handful, popped them in my mouth, put the plastic top back on the can and set it on the console between the seats. Oh, and of course I gave Spark a couple. Big cashew guy, the Spark.

A few miles down the road I stopped and then took off too quickly, sending the can flying into the backseat. I reached back and felt around for it, but it was apparently under the seat or something so I forgot about it, figuring I’d get it when I got home.

Later, I had to run into a school to pick up a game DVD, and when I came back Spark was looking v-e-r-y sheepish. I asked him, “Sparky, what have you done?” but all I got was his guilty face. Yeah, this one:

Spark1

Uh-oh. I’ve seen that look before and it never had a happy ending. I looked into the back of my Jeep, but nothing seemed amiss. I eyed Spark warily, but otherwise moved on with my day.

However . . .

When I got home I grabbed my stuff and started to head into my house, but then I remembered my cashews. Hey, a handful of tasty goodness would be perfect! I went back out, opened the back door, spotted the can, picked it up, but then I noticed the top was off and lying on the floor. Crap. It must have popped off when the can fell earlier. Then I noticed something else – the can was empty, and there were no cashews anywhere to be found.

After about 3-seconds of reasoning, it became clear what had transpired. Seems my beloved little buddy had scarfed down an entire 8-oz can of cashews, save the 7 or 8 that I’d eaten earlier.

Damn it, Sparky!

PS – No side effects. So far.

Spark2

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Comments
  1. […] HomeAbout Dave ShoemakerAbout Sparky the Wonder Dog […]

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  3. I came across your blog by accident because I actually saw the picture of Sparky in the car and, for a brief moment, thought it was a picture of my dog, Mr. Princess. Enjoyed reading it!

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