I started a game of fetch with PD before Henry came into our family. We played with a Rubber Chicken, rather than a ball or stick. I’d throw “Chicken” and PD would run after it and bring it back. … Or not.
Sometimes, PD thought it was only fair to sit and wait for me to walk over to him, and then throw Chicken back across to where we started. I was never sure which rules we were going to play by, but PD always knew. The fun part of “Chicken” was that we could play in the house, or we could go outside and play in the yard. We could even play in our travel trailer, if we happened to be going somewhere.
The first time Henry saw me throw Chicken was the first time I began to wonder if Henry had been hit in his previous home. Henry cowed and walked as far away from me as he could when I raised my arm to throw Chicken. This little game that brought so much joy to PD instilled fear and dread in Henry. We learned of other things that scared Henry as well.
Smoke was another fear that Henry had. The first time we started a backyard barbecue, Henry ran into the house and hid under the covers on the couch. We took the dogs with us when we went camping. Our normal routine was to walk the dogs around the park several times a day. I learned that I had to steer clear of campfires and barbecues. Henry would cower, shiver, or just stop and refuse to move once he caught the scent of smoke. This fear lasted for several years. We eventually were able to get Henry used to the campfire smoke. Henry was able to walk past other campers grilling hamburgers or just burning wood without a problem.
Oh, Henry would act brave when he smelled and then spotted a cat. He would bark his deepest manliest bark at the cat. His hair would raise up in a ridge down his back, and then he would charge. All would go as planned as long as the cat retreated from his back yard. Or, in the case where I was walking the dogs, as long as I was able to firmly grasp the leash in my hand.
The first time was late one evening, and I was standing in the front yard, waiting for PD and Henry to take care of their business. Before the first instance of getting free from my leash, I did my best to protect the local cats from Henry.
Henry and PD both noticed the cat, and Henry started his deep ferocious barking routine. Then he rushed the cat, and caught me off guard. Henry managed to pull the leash out of my hand.
Henry raced across the street barking loudly and viciously in hot pursuit of the cat. The cat retreated to a row of bushes by the neighbor’s house, and then turned. The cat decided he did not want to run anymore. He arched his back, puffed out his fur and hissed, swiping his paw at Henry.
Henry’s deep ferocious bark turned into a high pitched girly squeal as he turned around and raced back to the safety of his own yard. He yelped and squealed all the way home, managing to run even faster in retreat than he did for the attack. Henry really was a brave dog when possums and skunks were involved. But cats? Not so much.
I did my best to protect Henry from cats after that.