Richard F. - Short Stories>
Getting on the Stick
by Richard F. Stratton

As most people who have owned Bulldogs know, the breed is generally one that is very toy oriented. This behavior stems quite naturally from its inherent playfulness and enthusiasm. Even chain dogs and kennel dogs find items to utilize for play, such as logs, bones, or rocks. Part of this behavior, of course, stems from the breedís desire for fighting contact; hence, they "fight" their doghouses, logs, rocks, and whatever. It is not unusual to see a Bulldog hanging six feet in the air from a four-by-four overhang in his kennel! Basically, however, whatever they do is all in the spirit of play, and every Pit Bulldog Iíve ever owned was a natural retriever of whatever you wanted to throw.

In this story, Pat, a tan-spotted white dog, was a "stick dog." His owners had played tug-of-war with him, utilizing a stick, since the time he was a puppy. He became so taken with sticks that he was constantly on the lookout for one. If you picked up a stick, Patís eyes lit up in excitement and locked in on that staff. Quick as a cat and strong as a mountain lion, the dog would have hold of the stick and commence his game to trying to take it away. This usually didnít take long, for although Pat only weighed 45 pounds, few people were able to hold on to that stick as the dog shook it and went through a repertoire of gyrations to wrest it away. Once having obtained his prize, the dog paraded around the yard waving it high in the air for everybody to see, all the time wagging his tail and looking back as if to say, "Aha, I got it away from you again!" After a minute or two, he would bring the stick back to get the game started all over.

One time, an older fellow came to visit Patís owners. As he entered the front gate, Pat, in his role of official greeter, came running from the back of the house. As so many people do, our visitor detected a menace that wasnít there. He reached down, picked up a stake, and held it over his head to warn the dog away. Now, at that particular point in time, there just was nothing our visiting uncle could have done that would have been so completely wrong! Pat ran up the side of the terrified man, secured the stick in his jaws, and after a spectacular display of mid-air gyrations, shook the stake loose from the man and landed on the ground about the same time as the man landed on his back. We can only imagine the relief of the avuncular visitor to see the dog prance off content with merely the stick in his mouth, leaving our friend with his scalp intact!

A week or two later, the boys were relating the incident to a burly friend. Failing to see the humor in the story, the friend said if heíd had the stick, he would have driven that dog into the next neighborhood. One thing led to another, and finally the boys handed their mesomorphic friend the stick and let him try to drive the dog off. The young braggart ran at Pat (who had been snoozing) with the stick. Pat awoke with delight! Someone new to play the game with! Ignoring the barrage of blows (and taking no offense at them), Pat soon had the stick in his grasp. Holding the stick in an iron grip, Pat wrapped his forelegs around the boyís arm, at the same time pushing with all his might against the boyís armpit and neck with his hind legs. After a couple of sharp twists, pat had his prize and was doing his victory dance around the yard, waving aloft his beloved stick! Patís merriment was contrasted by the befuddlement of the youth, who simply couldnít believe he had been "disarmed" so quickly by any dog, let alone such a small one.