Monday, June 21, 2010

Sandee & Marley (The dog formerly known as Takwanda)

The parsonage in Unalaska comes furnished with two Labrador dogs—a chocolate, named Sandee, and a golden whose owners call him Takwanda. George has re-named this dog Marley, for reasons that will soon become obvious if you’ve seen the movie or read the book “Marley and Me.” Yes, I’m allergic to dogs, and it is our hope they won’t bother me. The bedroom we’ll sleep in has always been dog-free, and heating is by baseboard, not centralized, so I’ll take my Claritin and hope.

The dogs are used to being in the house, but are becoming accustomed to being outdoors—sort of. Sandee is well behaved, stays in the yard or on the sun porch, comes when called, doesn’t jump all over people. Then there’s Marley.

Here is the first of what will probably turn out to be several dog stories. The first night at the parsonage, George let the dogs sleep inside as usual. He was awakened by scratching on the bedroom door, so went to let the dogs out into the yard. The house is on one level with the living room having a patio sliding door out to the sun porch whose door was open leading down three or four steps to the fenced back yard. Looks good, so George opens the slider to let the dogs out. Marley started in the middle of the living room at a dead run out through the slider--across the sun porch--through the door--down the steps--across the yard--and over the fence and was gone!! So much for the fenced yard! One side is 8 foot cyclone fence for the ball field, but the other is obviously inadequate.

George was still tired, figured the dog would return on his own (as the owners had indicated) so went back to bed. In about 20 minutes he got a call from a neighbor saying his dog was out! So up, dress, take Sandee to find the dog, because it becomes evident that he’ll follow Sandee wherever he goes. Dogs home and confined to sun porch. What to do. . .

Purchase a 15 foot chain for Marley. Tie it to the deck so he can get out of the weather. But of course Marley wraps himself tightly around the deck support post. New plan: Tie the chain to the clothesline which runs across the yard. Marley can’t reach the deck, and has more room to run along the line which extends from the house to the cyclone fence. Looks good. George is monitoring the dog, when suddenly Marley jumps the short fence—chain and all! He could just barley reach one corner of the fence. Fortunately, Marley got his feet on the ground and didn’t hang himself, and fortunately George was watching.

Next new plan: Tie Marley to a different place in the yard, and get another 15 foot chain so he’ll have 30 feet to roam. As George was connecting the chain, apparently he didn’t get the hasp closed just right, and about that time the children across the street came outside with a little black poodle. George said Marley must have been able to get up a better head of steam as he broke the hasp and barely paused as he scaled the fence dragging the 30 feet of chain! The children shrieked and headed for their house! George was so concerned about the children that he jumped the fence to get a hold of Marley. All’s well that ends well, and Marley spends the night on the sun porch.

George says that he’s got a system and a tie-up that works for Marley now, but warns that when I come I can’t help chain Marley because he is so big and jumps and licks and resists getting tied up—even with the reward of a treat after the chain is applied. (Treats are met with massive sliming of the person offering the treat.) The mischief continues, however, as the first day on the new chain Marley completely shredded his plastic water dish and left the tiny pieces scattered all over the yard!

This is what I have to look forward to when I get to Unalaska. George says he’s not sure if he’s a Pastor or a dog sitter. The owner’s request was to walk the dogs to the recycle plant and back (2 miles round trip) four times a day!! George has settled on twice a day—and both Sandy and “Marley” have accepted this plan as well as Marley’s new name readily.

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