While our 35-pound block of Welsh Corgi named Jamie is pretty well known for letting me help him produce a column now and then, there’s another dog that also roams the grounds of the remote Texas County outpost my wife and I call home.
Her name is Gertie, and at the risk of sounding like I’m exaggerating, I thought I would describe her without incorporating anything but truth.
I call her the Perma-Pup. She’ll be two years old in December, but she still acts like a puppy. Actually, I’ll take that back – few puppies have ever acted like Miss Gertrude (or dogs of any age, for that matter).
Her energy level is always on high, and from the instant she wakes up to the moment she turns in for the night, she spends the vast majority of her time on a quest for fun. It’s relentless, really, and there is little or nothing that deters her.
It’s pleasure and silliness or bust, 24/7.
While Jamie obviously possesses the classic long, low and wide physique of a pure-bred Corgi, Gertie is also of Corgi decent but with a twist. She’s a bit sleeker, and unlike Jamie and most real Corgis, has a tail any fox would be proud of, complete with a little white tip. It often curves forward, like it’s pointing the way to her next assignment on the mission of fun, and it frequently wags like a big feather duster.
We’re not really sure what other breed is in Gertie’s blood, or what percent of her genes it comprises, but whatever it is, one thing is certain: it’s not large and sluggish.
Adding to her unique personality is a way of producing sound effects that most people who hear them indicate they’ve never heard before. The best example of her unique vocals can always be heard when she comes in from the rain and has to be toweled off before crossing the line between laundry room and kitchen. I don’t know if Gertie is ticklish or what, but she growls and snarls like a crazed banshee the whole time the towel is touching her body.
It’s impossible for the toweler not to crack up while the towelee displays this behavior.
Anyway, since she’s a “wonder dog” (we wonder what mix she is), and combines ultra-energy with weird sounds, I like to say she’s part Corgi, and part gremlin.
Of course, gremlins are not real – but then this dog is unreal.
Whether the temperature is 102, 6, or 74, Gertie much prefers being outdoors to indoors. Her typical day is spent outside dealing with “her animals.” My wife Wendy and I like to say “she has” six chickens, three cats, two horses and one donkey. If you saw the way she interacts with all of them, you’d know why.
She’s almost always hanging out with a horse, lounging with a cat, or observing the movement of some chickens. And she loves to chase them – well, not the donkey; Abe doesn’t move for her. But she gets a big kick out of getting the horses up to a gallop or making a cat run for the cover of an outbuilding. And she does it simply because she can.
But for reasons I’m sure they understand, the horses don’t always react to Gertie’s antics. Sometimes they just stand still and chew grass while she runs figure-eights around them and barks her little head off.
I think I once heard Big Sur say, “as if.”
She obviously has no fear, and seems to enjoy being around her gentle giants, but I guess do to some extent I question the wisdom of a 10-pound canine running patterns around 850-pound equines. But it seems to work for her, and so far she hasn’t injured any of them.
Speaking of barking, Gertie takes that to another level, too.
I’ve seen her barking like mad a few feet from a possum’s face, and in equally close proximity to snakes and turtles. I once even witnessed her giving a coyote an earful from a distance of only about 20 yards. The big cousin was doing that head-tilt thing, as if to say, “what in the world?” Then it saw me and trotted away.
When we go on walks, Gertie gets into this unusual sniffing mode that is accompanied by another sound effect that’s as exclusively hers as the banshee-gremlin-growl. It’s like a snorting, and I kind of compare it to a metal detector at work. I just know there’s some kind of primeval motive involved and it’s somehow helping her hone in on the good smells and glean information about them.
When most dogs sit, the bottoms of their hind feet are usually in contact with the surface of whatever they’re sitting on. Not the Perma-pup.
When Gertie sits, the insides of her thighs are on the ground. Same with when she lies down; her legs sort of go out to the side and her belly is on the ground or floor. We joke about her “chicken legs” when she does that.
When her day is done – usually at about 9:15 p.m. or so – Gertie just stops. It’s as if she’s battery-powered and someone turned off a switch (although if her energy truly was supplied artificially, a turbine or other major power plant would be required, because to my knowledge a battery hasn’t yet been devised that could deliver sufficient juice to keep her going). When the right time comes, she will literally walk into the living room, flop on the floor with a thud, and the perpetual motion comes to a sudden halt.
At that point, that’s all she wrote; another big day in a lifelong series of big days is over, just like that. And I must say, not one of those big days goes by when this little ball of furry fun fails to make us smile.
She’s not the Perma-pup for nothing. Forever young, forever energetic – forever silly.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.