COLUMNS

WRITER'S BLOCK: Sparky and Me

Michael Tortorich
Michael Tortorich is a reporter for The Gonzales Weekly Citizen. He can be reached at reporter1 @ weeklycitizen.com.

I have to admit, when my dad brought home our family’s third dog a few months back, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea.

Sure the yellow labrador retriever puppy was cute, but so were the brindle Shih Tzu and the black labrador retriever we welcomed into our home years earlier.

The two retrievers were gifts of sorts from people who either didn’t want them or couldn’t take care of them any longer. Every time I asked I would get a different variation of the story, so I’m thinking my dad felt like he couldn’t say no to the dogs. Both arrived at our doorstep with little fanfare, and not much more than a sad story.

Our trio of dogs have become a part of our family. Every time I go home it becomes more and more obvious who runs things around there. Sassy, the black lab, and Harli, the Shih Tzu, know the lay of the land. They’ve both been around for at least a couple of years each, and they’ve carved out their places in the pack.

But then the yellow lab, Sparky, came along. Anyone who has ever had a lab or spent any amount of time with one, knows they can be boisterous, energetic dogs. They live to play and play to live.

I volunteered to look after the dogs over the weekend since everyone planned on being out of town. I figured it would be an opportunity to have a quiet weekend. Boy, was I wrong.

Feeding time, at least as far as the dogs are concerned, is all the time. Every time I tried to eat anything, the trio gathered around me and waited patiently for something to hit the ground or for me to give up some charity. Obviously they’ve been trained to be on their best behavior when there’s a possibility of scraps to be had.

Dogs only have a few modes. There’s eating mode, sleeping mode and party time. Every now and then they break into party time and run around the house or yard, sometimes playfully biting on each other. It’s all in good fun. They seem to know their limits.

We live on a street with little traffic, so we often let the dogs go on an excursion around the neighborhood. Apparently this freedom was too much for Sparky.

He was mixing it up with one of our neighbor’s dogs and somehow got one of his paws stuck on a leash’s push-in latch. Our neighbors discovered the predicament and called me over. I didn’t want to make the situation worse or cause him more pain, so I quickly found a 24-hour veterinarian and rushed him in myself.

With our neighbor’s help, I took Sparky off the leash and carried him to my car. The nearest emergency clinic was in LaPlace, about 35 miles away from home. The crew on the night shift did a great job in taking care of our dog, who seemed to be humbled by the ordeal.

Driving back, Sparky went right back to his old self. He jumped back and forth from the front seat to the back. He behaved almost as if nothing had happened. Eventually he calmed down and rested his head on my lap.

I guess that was his way of saying thanks.