First Blood

Of questionable lineage: Who Were Gandy's Parents?

Gandy has discovered a toy that fights back: the 24” green gym ball that broods in the shadows, over in the corner under the coat rack. It was random, I suppose, that in the act of going after some other less participatory toy behind it, she bumped up against it and it bumped her back.

It wasn’t long before the bumps on her part were non-random and provocative. And one thing leading to another, the green ball has been bumped across all parts of the downstairs that Gandy has access to below the two steps into the rest of the house.

Last night, I threw gasoline on the fire, and redirected the ball when it got penned in a corner, in an effort to run down her batteries and bring bedtime a little closer. I reached down one more time to propel the ball towards the hallway.

She nailed me. She was going for the ball, but my hand was in her path, and one of her Velociraptor teeth sunk to the bone of my left-hand ring finger. I’ve not had that particular quality of acute pain since the falling tree clipped my knee a couple of winters ago.

After fifteen minutes of compression inside the toilet-paper blotter, the bleeding subsided. The wound was deeper than wide, but located right at the bend of the second joint, so we wrapped it to prevent flexion overnight. Typing this morning, I feel a little like Chester Good on Gunsmoke, with this one finger stiffly limping across the keys, trying to keep up with the others.

While she sleeps. I actually had an undisturbed cup of coffee! But the price to be paid is: I’m freezing. I’m not about to crumple paper or break twigs to build a fire, only one room away from a sleeping velociraptor. I might as well sound reveille on a trumpet.

▶ YOUR BEST GUESS: Gandy’s mother is a known, apparently predominantly German Shepherd. The pups were advertised as Shepherd-Lab mix. We’re not seeing the lab. But what are the breed influences YOU see in Gandy? Her coat is very short and not soft. Her face is a little square, with some possible boxer influence, maybe? She bears some resemblance also in her ears and muzzle to a baby pit bull. She promises to be long of leg and neck, especially compared to our more familiar thick-necked labs, and has already entered that awkward adolescent stage, without the acne.

If you have a guess about breed contribution, please share–not that it matters, we’re just trying to anticipate when this thing living with us will stop growing, and when full grown, what might her demeanor be? So far, so good, the deep puncture wound forgiven.

Uh-oh. I hear whimpering. I’d better post this if it’s going to get done any time today. Let the Wild Rumpus begin!

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’m not a dog expert, but it seems Gandy will definitely continue to make mischief of one kind or another. Yet still, adorable. 😉
    Take care of that wound, Fred!

  2. I’ll have to share this post with my husband, who was quite literally “scarred for life” when our lab Vesta inflicted a similar wound while diving for a stuffed toy as a puppy. Today his hand has a small V-shaped scar – fitting somehow! There’s nothing like those teeth – despite training her not to mouth, we were still thrilled when the adult replacements began to appear.

  3. Jayne, I share your suspicions, but hopefully, in the same way we tried to put a positive spin on our daughter’s excessively high spirits and resistance to authority: “it will serve her well someday, and become an asset.” May it be so for dog and daughter.

  4. Oh Heidi, thanks for reminding me that day will come when the more rounded and blunt will replace the needles in Gandy’s jaws, and she will lie there on the couch beside me happily, with nothing in her mouth but those adult teeth, no need for rawhide chews or human fingers or buttons or upholstery or…

  5. She looks an awful lot like my ol’ Fluffy, who was a mix of a purebred pitbull (a terrifying monster of a dog, oddly named Tigger) and some yappy white fluffy samoyed looking thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has some pit in her.

  6. I have concluded that “the experts” don’t have any more of a clue than you or I when it comes to identifying breed mixes in a puppy of unknown origins. We were told that Chewy would attain something like “less than thirty pounds when grown and be a medium size.” I’m constantly surprised by the length, width and height Chewy continues to grow into. She already 31 pounds and showing symptom of hormonal awakenings, if you know what I mean. Hard-headed and stubborn don’t begin to describe her demeanor. She’s at her worse when getting sleepy in the evening and at her best when she’s groggy with long hours of sleep. Like a teenager, she is getting so that she wants to sleep longer and longer. I’m not complaining about that aspect of her development. I am thankful for it in fact. I have opportunity in the early morning to get in most of my computer time undisturbed. She still takes short power naps during the daylight hours when things get quiet in the house. I tell my wife what she’s missing in the way of shared affections by sleeping behind a closed door, alone and I believe she envies me. I am partial to puppy snuggling periods, stroking that exposed tummy when she’s sleeping on her back and listening to her instinctive, litter noises. My SIL calls such sounds “grizzling.” I’ve accepted that word as proper animal lover language. It simply sounds right. I wonder what other delightful and not so delightful discoveries will greet us today? Only one puncture! You are fortunate in that respect. It will heal in about ten days or two weeks.