Lyle's Blog

Hartford and me

Friday, April 10, 2009

With the arrival of Casey and Jessica has come a new and very unique being into our lives. His name is Hartford and he is a cross between a Chocolate lab and a Chesapeake retriever.

His life seems to mirror the dog Marley from the movie Marley and me. Like Marley, he was named after a singer. In this case, Johnny Hartford. For those of you who are not aware of who Johnny was, he wrote 'Gentle on my mind' for Glen Campbell and was frequently a guest on his TV show of old. He was a very accomplished singer/songwriter of whom Casey and Jessica both love.

Also, like Marley, he was adopted to be a companion of both Casey and Jessica and they look at him like their child. I recall when Casey was visiting us last how just before he left how he was devastated when Hartford got out and was lost in Denver.

I have wondered and watched Hartford with a whole different perspective especially after watching the movie just last week. I wondered how he would react to his new environment and have not been disappointed in my observations of both him and the present pets in our household.

We have a small miniature Pom named Mia and three cats with totally differing personalities named Max, Bella, and Asya (belonging to Trin). Everyone of them has taken to Hartford in a different way.

Now, Hartford seems to me to be very close in personality to Marley. He is big, strong and quite often either bored or inquisitive. He immediately wanted to play with Mia but that scared the pants off of her which has turned her very defensive around him. She seems quite unhappy that this big lug has come in and invaded her space, chewed up her small bones (she tried to reciprocate last night with his large bone and could not chew on it's massiveness let alone even move it an inch), and has taken some of the attention that she has garnered full control of in her house since she first arrived here. Whenever he comes around, she lets him know with an intense bark just how unhappy she is.

Bella is our quietest cat. She has always been very shy and reserved but equally loving when she allows you into her world. She disappeared the day Hartford arrived. That is at least until she needed me to help her get by him and out to her garage and cat box. I had gone to bed early that evening and around 11, awoke to her nudging me with her nose. When I rolled over, she just nudged me again. I then got up, put on my bathrobe, and carried her past this new beast (I say that lovingly) and to her sanctuary in the garage.

Asya seems to get along with all and everyone. She did not know what to do with this very large panting mass of fur that came into our house that afternoon. She immediately arched her back with the fur on her sides smoothing and pointing upwards to join the pointing hair on her back. She looked like she had grown a Mohawk haircut. At first, she did not want any part of him. Then, she seemed to see how harmless he was and kind of enjoys teasing him. Jessica was enjoying watching them interact just yesterday. She said she did not realize just how clumsy Hartford was until she saw him against the stealth Asya who can dart around and swat him from behind before he even realizes that she has moved.

Then there is Max. Max is kind of a Garfield of a cat. He even reminds me of Garfield in how he acts. He never reacted in fear of this new creature but seems to deal with him with a somewhat arrogant disdain. He will walk through the room, jump up on his perch and watch this big dog do his very stupid antics and seems to have that look on his face that says, "I think you are pretty dumb. Do anything you want to do but know this. This is my house and my people and if you get in my way, you will regret it.".

Now, for Hartford's reactions. They are not unlike what you would expect from a young big dog that does not know his own strength and has been taken out of his own unique world and thrown into this very new environment with all of it's new sights, smells, and experiences.

I watched him the very first night as he played with a couple of small squeak toys that he was given. He liked them both and wanted them both at the same time just like a little child. He was frustrated when he could not get them both in his mouth. That is until he figured out how he could squeak them both. He had one in his mouth and was knocking the other to try and get it into position to mouth it also when his paw caused it to squeak. He seemed to enjoy his ability to squeak them both at the same time.

He seems to have taken to me with an unsureness. He will stand and watch me just staring. I think he realizes that I am the dominant male in this house and is not quite sure how to react to that and to me. Last night, when I arrived home, he came out to greet me. I got down on my knee to talk and pet him and he came running but then stopped in his tracks as if he were scared, made an immediate turn on the rug that with his massiveness and claws made me wonder if my carpet could handle such a maneuver and ran back into the kitchen. He peered around at me and when I called him reacted in the very same way. I decided for my carpets sake that I should not attempt it again.

Now, the real test will be when he meets Frank. Frank is well known for getting down on all fours and playing with any canine friend. I am just not sure if I want that playground to be my house or better yet, whether my house could handle it. I will just have to let you know how that one goes.

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