Saturday, May 9, 2015

What I Learned from a Toy Poodle Named Macho

By Ada Brownell

“Here’s a free Saint Bernard,” our Jeanette read out of the newspaper one day before school.
She’d been begging for a dog. But we had serious allergies and asthma in the  house and she was one of those affected. The allergist said “No pets.”
Jeanette didn’t give up. Every morning before school she grabbed the newspaper. “Here’s a free Great Dane.” Or “They’re giving away a greyhound.” “A collie.” “I found a Black Lab they’re giving away here.”
I’d heard some breeds don’t shed and poodles and few others don’t distribute their hair and dander all over the house. Dander was the problem. But both children’s asthma was improving, and my husband and I began to listen to Jeanette’s desperation. She didn’t ask for much, and this desire for a dog was so great she didn’t give up.
The reason she looked for free dogs is she knew we didn’t have a lot of money to spend. But our finances loosed a little because I’d just gone back to work.
My husband talked with a friend at church who raised poodles. In a few days, he and the kids brought Macho home.
Now Macho’s name when adopted was Appy because he was an apricot purebred miniature poodle. The lady who bought him as a puppy fed him food off the table and he grew big for his breed. She returned him to the breeder.
But that wasn’t the only reason the dog’s name was changed. Jaron, Jeanette’s older brother, also wanted a pet so he went to the library and got books on dog training and poodles and helped our daughter train the cute fellow. In the process, they discovered the dog thought he was big.
So Appy became Macho. I told the kids they’d probably have to take him to the doggie psychiatrist after doing that, but the dog took it well.
With that name, everybody knew Macho. When he barked, he sounded like a Doberman. He’d threaten to tear a stranger to bits and within minutes try to go home with him.
Macho assumed everybody loved him, and he took to the “pack” (the five of us still left at home) with joy.
Yet, Jaron became top dog. Whatever he said, Macho obeyed. He was pretty good with Jeanette, but the rest of us could give every command in the book and you’d think we spoke Chinese. But if you said treat, walk, bath, leash, go, he understood. Well, he did make an exception for No! spoken in a certain tone of voice. He had at least a 12-word vocabulary and learned to spell treat and walk. He almost could spell the words backward, as we had to do to keep him from going in to orbit.
Now I’d never had a pet, and the outside dogs our older son had, I never touched, although I fed them.
Macho had only been in our house a couple of days when I sat down on the sofa to watch TV beside my husband. There was a kid or two also sitting there and Macho jumped up on my lap, turned his bottom around, and stuck it in the small space between me and the arm of the sofa, backing and squeeziing himself in beside me.
I found myself petting him, rubbing his back, and putting him in doggie heaven.
“He feels funny,” I said. “His skin is so loose you could put two dogs into his hide.”
When he had a bath I remembered why dogs have loose skin. He could whip his back hair to his belly and flip-flop it a dozen times for a quick dry for him and a shower for anyone who didn’t grab the towel quick enough.
 God sure did amazing things with His creation.
A dog may be considered a “dumb animal,” but Macho was smart in many ways. I wouldn’t mind having two of his characteristics—his love for people, and his assumption that everybody loved him.
I think we as humans often miss out on so much because we don’t realize most people like us—unless we give them a reason not to.
Perhaps I can grow emotionally to be more like Macho. I think that’s what God wants all of us to be.