Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Henry, the Dog Next Door

Henry lives next door to us. He is a dog, but he is not a basenji. Henry is a soft-coated wheaten terrier. I think that this is a stupid name for a dog breed. It is way too long, for one thing. Why do they have to say "soft-coated" as part of the name of the breed? Have you ever heard of a rough-coated wheaten terrier? Or a wire-haired wheaten terrier? How about a curly-coated wheaten terrier? If the idea is to tell the judge at a dog show that he should expect all wheaten terriers to have soft coats, this could just be written in the breed standard. That way, everyone who ever mentions the breed does not have to say "soft-coated" along with "wheaten" and "terrier." Anyway, this is my personal opinion on the matter, even though no one asked me!

But getting back to Henry, he is a wheaten terrier who was just a puppy when he first got adopted by his family. In those days, we had a chainlink fence around our back yard. Now we have a wood privacy fence. The reason we got a wood fence is all because of Henry.

I like Henry, but Gabe and Barry don't like him very much. Gabe, in fact, hates Henry, and Henry hates Gabe right back. So the two of them, and also Barry, do a lot of fence-fighting. "Fence-fighting" does not mean having a fight with a fence. It means dogs are trying to fight each other, even though there is a fence between them.

Fence-fighting is a result of the canine law of Barrier Aggression. This law states that if there is a dog on the other side of a fence, that dog is automatically an enemy who should be attacked. Not all dogs follow the law of Barrier Aggression. I don't, for example, but my brothers all do. Maybe it's more of a boy thing, I don't know.

Here is a photo of Gabe and me and Henry by the old chainlink fence. This is the only photo we have of Henry, but you can't tell much about him in this photo because he is moving really fast. You certainly can't tell if he has a soft coat or not. Ha! Henry has three children at his house. I mean human children, not puppies. Mom used to worry that one of the children would get hurt when we dogs were fence-fighting. Henry's mom told the children not to mess with Henry when he was fighting, but sometimes they did anyway. And sometimes Henry would stupidly stick his nose through the chainlink, and then Gabe would bite him on the nose. Mom was afraid someone would get hurt and then we would get sued for lots of money and we would end up having to live in debtors' prison, like in one of those novels by Mr. Charles Dickens. And there would be no money left to buy dog food, which would be the saddest part of all.

So we got a big, new wood fence built, and Henry's mom and dad helped pay for the part by their yard. This did not stop the fence-fighting, but it did make it so that Henry and Gabe and Barry couldn't really hurt each other. Now what happens is if Gabe really wants to bite Henry, but can't, he bites me instead! Which is why I mostly try to stay away from the fence-fight, if I can.

Sometimes Henry gets out of his front door and goes running through the neighborhood. Usually, he doesn't get very far, because he stops by our house to see if he can window-fight with Barry and Gabe and Mel. Twice, though, Henry got loose while Mom and Gabe and I were out walking. This caused a Very Bad Adventure to happen both times. The first time, Henry and Gabe started fighting, and Henry bit Gabe on the tail a whole bunch. Gabe had to go visit Dr. Patricia after that happened, but he didn't have to get any stitches.

And then about a year later, Henry got out the door and attacked Gabe and bit him really bad in his armpit. Gabe had to have surgery and also get a bunch of stitches that time. Mom was really mad because it cost her more than $500 to get Gabe fixed up again. So she asked Henry's dad to pay the bill, which he did. Mom told him that they needed to figure out how to keep Henry from getting out of their house, but Henry's dad said it was hard because they had children. Mom did not think this was a very good excuse. But anyway, after this incident, Henry hasn't got out nearly as often, so the family must have figured something out!


  1. Piper - not sure what I'd do without your blog...it's become a regular part of my morning ritual. Actually it's a part of the entire family's ritual. As I read the blog...Dodi & Di think it's their time to sit on my lap and stare at the computer screen. Anyway, I appreciated today's post, since you wrote of "fences" - I had to put up a wood fence too when I had Nellie (Vizla) because she loved jumping the fence and enjoyed visiting with the people next door. They didn't enjoy visiting w/Nellie...for some reason they were scared of her; and there wasn't a more gentle dog than Nellie. OK...off to do some chores!

  2. Dear "anonymous" Aunt Patty,
    I figured out who you are because of your cats' names. Ha! I'm glad you are giving them some quality time while reading my blog. Fences can definitely spoil a dog's fun. I climbed over our old fence into Henry's yard one time so I could visit him, but his people came and told my mom to take me back home. I was just trying to be friendly, like Nellie was. Well, keep reading my blog. I appreciate all my readers and friends!

  3. Piper, you are right about that long name- what a pain! And in my humble experince- that, ah, "difficulty" translates right to the pups themselves. In each various dog-related job I've had, I never met a Wheaten that wasn't at least a little looney and very hard headed. They sure are cute* though, which I guess is maybe why people put up with it? In their defense, I did meet one as a pup at Pooches Paradise, and get to watch him grow up. He seemed like a good boy most of the time, but his owner wasn't exactly dog savvy or open to advice and without good guidance he became a nasty, bad boy. So, I think maybe these dogs need a very involved owner or they'll start running the show, you know what I mean? I'm glad you're safe now in the back yard!
    Love, Aunt Kerry

    *NOT as cute as Basenjis!

  4. Dear Aunt Kerry,
    I'm glad you understand the problems we have living nextdoor to Henry! But I will say that I really like Gracie, the wheaten terrier at Pooches. Maybe you knew her, too. She is very sweet and never bites anybody. Mom also likes her a lot. If all wheatens could be like Gracie, then we would have a perfect doggy world!
    Love, Piper

  5. Oh my goodness! How could I forget Gracie? She is definitely a sweet, goofy girl. Now that you mention it... every trouble-making Wheaten I know is a boy. I bet there's something to that. ;)