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Posts Tagged ‘schnauzer’

I got to thinking about Mr. Tack today. I can’t say why, but maybe it came out of a conversation I had with my cousin’s wife about buying dogs from breeders. We both have done that and will continue to do so. We both believe in rescue dogs, too. What we don’t believe in is 1) puppy mill puppies and pet store puppies and 2) people who try to guilt you because you purchase a dog from a reputable breeder. There are reasons people shop for and purchase dogs from breeders.

There is no excuse for purchasing a dog from a puppy mill or through a pet store. Rescue a dog from a kill shelter. Rescue a dog from any shelter. Research and find a purebred or hypoallergenic breed and find a reputable breeder to buy from. Never let your dog go, even if you move away. This is a lifetime commitment (the dogs’ life. Or cat. Or horse. I’m guilty. Never again.

So, back to Mr. Tack.

Someone abandoned him in Paradise Valley, Nevada, in the mid-1960’s. We were between dogs. Our childhood pet had been hit by a car and killed: Butchy, the dog of seriously unknown parentage. Butch was a legend and not a dog to be replaced easily.

Mom was a dog lover and needed a dog.

Mr. Tack was a pestilence in the small berg of Paradise Valley. Dad was the Forest Ranger who occasionally went out there and connected to the residents and ranchers. He was apprised of the abandoned dog (this was during the 1960’s before most rescue animal groups existed). He coaxed the dog into his truck and brought him home to surprise our mother, who loved small dogs.

Fifty years later, I am surprised they knew Tack’s registered name, but they did. He was AKC registered Miniature Schnauzer, salt-and-pepper in coloring. There were no microchips and anyone could deny they still owned the dog, so he was basically quite abandoned. Mom welcomed him with open arms, but he was traumatized and did not adjust to our family life.

Dad returned him to the wild, abandoning him just like his previous owner. What else did you do in those days? Go shoot the dog? Well, yes. That’s what you did. It was the mid-1960’s.

Mom moped for about two weeks before she decided she wanted to give that dog another try. She couldn’t just leave him for the coyotes to finish off or some rancher to shoot him. He needed to come home to us. He needed to be Mom’s dog.

It was months before we saw any change in him. He moped. He didn’t bark. He just hung around.

Then, one incredible night, he howled.

I don’t remember if it was dark or day, only that he’d been out in the yard for a while and suddenly there was this long howling that started and drew off, then started again. Who called him in? I don’t know. One of us hurriedly begged him inside the house lest a neighbor complain. Oh, and they did – eventually.

It was that day or night that Mr. Tack declared us his family and my mother as his person. He barked. He howled. He talked to Mom.

“Arrr rarr roww rarr arr”

She talked back. They became best of friends.

Tack became one of us kids and I could go on about his exploits. He was funny, short-sighted, stubborn, and incredibly loyal. He got out “once in a blue moon” and ran the neighborhood (and my mother scolded anyone who called to complain our dog was in their yard because she was frantic to bring him home).

He left me high and dry after a summer of 4-H obedience training. County Fair 101: your mother’s dog will decide to fall asleep in the show ring. Thanks, Mr. Tack.

He tolerated every cat we introduced to the family but ate every lizard we tried to bring home and tame. He attacked the garbage man without fail. He bit anyone entering the house unannounced, including my father. He bit me when he was tired of me trying to get him to go hiking. He was a crotchety old man.

Mom paid to have him groomed but Dad occasionally disagreed and attempted to groom him: he ended up looking sort of like a lion. He regularly nipped at his regular groomer, Mrs. Butterfield. In retrospect, I would have bitten her, too.

When my mother was frustrated with one of us kids she’d call out, “Terry Jackie Denny Tacky”. Tacky was one of us.

He died after I left for college and I do not know where my parents buried him. I know my mother cried. He was smart, funny, obnoxious, vocal, purebred, abandoned, rescued, and a sibling.

001

My best friend with Mr. Tack circa 1966.

He died in the mid-1970’s. I have a soft spot for Schnotzers (Schnauzers).

 

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