Along Came Mr. Bone

Having told Mandy’s story last week, it’s only fair to move on to the next chapter.

Several months after losing Mandy, our two sons came home from WSU for Thanksgiving. One of them, Bill J., came bearing not exactly gifts, but rather, a tiny rescued puppy he had named Bone. He was a scrawny, mite of a thing, and he really was bony.

We had just put new carpeting in the mobile home our sons were sharing while going to school, and I knew that, if housebreaking that puppy was left up to them, the new carpet was doomed. So I offered to keep the puppy between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so he’d be housebroken by the time he went back to Pullman.

While I was carrying him up and down the stairs, I could hold him in one hand, and by the time Christmas vacation was over, he was ready to make the return trip. The boys and Bony left for Pullman on Sunday and were back in Bellevue by Thursday. It turns out Bony had bonded with our Goldens, Nikki and Tess, to say nothing of Grandma. In Pullman he had cried and refused to eat, so back he came.

After Mandy, there was no way I could say we didn’t take in dogs in need, so Bony stayed—for the next eleven years.

The problem with Pound Puppies is this: They don’t come with papers, and they are usually of indeterminate origin. Back home in Bellevue, Bony began to grow—like a weed. Carrying him one handed was no longer an option.

I can’t remember the name of our vet back then because we always called him Dr. Eighty Bucks. No matter how many dogs you showed up with—one, two, or more—that was the bill — $80.00.

When Bone was about six months old, I took him to see the vet and asked Dr. Eighty Bucks what kind of dog he was.

“A black and tan canardly,” the vet replied. I’d never heard of that kind of breed, but it sounded exotic.

“What kind of dog is that?” I asked.

“Well,” the vet said, “you can hardly tell what kind of dog he is, but I think he’s half German shepherd and half Irish Wolfhound.”

Bone had the wiry hair, the facial features, and the long legs of an Irish Wolfhound, but the soft undercoat of a German shepherd. Years later, while grocery shopping, I spotted a dog parked outside the store on a leash. He was the opposite of Bony in that he was built like a German shepherd but with the coat of a Wolfie. I went back into the store, tracked down his owner and asked, “Where did you get that dog?”

“The pound in Pullman, Washington,” was the reply.

Several months later, while home for lunch, Bill threw a tennis ball from the kitchen into the living room. Bony raced after it, slamming into a brass and glass table and knocking loose a tooth in the process.

We went straight down to see Dr. Eighty Bucks. He told us that a root canal was in order, but he didn’t actually do them, so he referred us to another vet who did.

When we retrieved Bony after the root canal procedure, the dental vet was furious. “This is a vicious dog,” he told us. “You need to put him down immediately.” Turns out the vet had tried to do a root canal without having Bone properly anesthetized.

Back we went to Dr. Eighty Bucks. “This dog was taken away from his mother when he was too young,” he explained. “As a result, he’s unsure of himself, and nervous dogs can be dangerous dogs. He needs to go to a six-week boot camp at the Academy for Canine Behavior and learn how to be a dog.”

That’s what happened, and they turned Bony into a perfect gentleman of a dog. Years later when a visiting three year-old put her two little pointy fingers up his nose, he never said a word.

His favorite toy was an upside-down aluminum bowl which he would chase around the driveway, pouncing on it and sending it flying like a hockey puck.

When two new red-dog golden puppies appeared on the scene, they were identical as far as humans were concerned, but Bony knew the difference. Daphne could do no wrong as far as he was concerned and could chew on his tail or ears with total impunity. If Aggie tried the same stunts, Bone immediately turned into Mr. Growly Bear.

Eventually he appeared in Hour of the Hunter as Davy Ladd’s broccoli-eating canine pal and trusted companion. His name is Oho, in the book, and oho is Tohono O’odham for bone.

Now you’re beginning to see how my mind works. Next up will be Bella, the Book Tour Dog. Stay tuned.