I’ve only used the “No” word one time with Dusty Dog. Once, while we were on one of our weekly walks, he crunched something in his teeth after checking out an intriguing-smelling hole in the ground. "Dusty, no”! I gasped. What on Earth was he eating? Dusty swallowed and rushed over to reassure me, a dead ringer for Oatmeal's dog.
Dusty’s human, Mollie, rarely uses that word, either. His favorite food is Anything the Cat Didn’t Eat (he’s allowed to clean up leftovers). Dusty could help himself to Everything the Cat Didn’t Eat Fast Enough with an short hop onto the chair next to the cat’s bowl. But he stays on the floor. Dusty could chew up shoes, backpacks, sofas, and pillows. But he limits himself to shedding gobs of hair the size of dachshunds on all of the above and more. Dusty could get into the trash or into the closet where his food and treats are stored, but he doesn’t seem interested.
Mollie says Dusty behaves out of gratitude for being rescued from the pound. Another friend, who also saved her dog from the noisy, chaotic pound, says her dog keeps a close eye on her, so she doesn't disappear.
Early this spring, when the sun was rising late, Mollie left for work at oh-dark-thirty. Her work phone rang later that morning. It was her next-door neighbor; he had tracked her down through her employer.
The neighbor had looked out his back window to see Dusty carefully inventorying all the exciting odors in the wrong backyard. Morning light revealed Dusty's wooden stockade fence flat on the ground, keeping the newly growing grass in place. The neighbor worried that Dusty might wander into the street and get hurt.
Mollie was swamped at work and didn't know when she could get away. But she knew her dog. She told her neighbor to address Dusty, point to their house, and say, “Git home!”
Mollie's neighbor did just that. Dusty looked up at the man, considered it, and trotted back to his porch. He was still there when Mollie broke away from work and got home to put him inside and close up his dog door.