My dog Brady is supposedly eight years old this month. I say supposedly because I’m not sure of his birthday. I’ll explain later.
He’s our third dog, probably our third standard poodle – “probably” will be explained as well – after Yaz (1978-1991) and Jasper (1991-2004).
Yaz was named for Carl Yastrzemski, who helped me get over the loss of the Dodgers from New York and turned me into a Red Sox fan. Jasper was named for my favorite Canadian national park.
Brady was named for Brady Coyne – not Tom Brady – the fictional Boston lawyer in William Tapply’s fine series of mystery novels.
Brady, the dog, was born the year after Tapply died at the age of sixty-nine. I sent his widow an email, told her how much I’d enjoyed Tapply’s books and that I’d named my dog after Brady Coyne. She said that pleased her and would have pleased her husband.
But, as I wrote in The Expat Files: My Life in Journalism, bringing up Brady has been a trial.
Brady was a surprise Christmas gift from the kids in 2010. He’s a standard poodle, we think. He’s nothing like Yaz or Jasper. For one thing, he’s white. For another, he’s nuts.
I still have the pedigree papers for Yaz and Jasper. Know who their parents were. With Brady, I’m just guessing. Son of Rain Man and Sybil?
He arrived at about four months old – again, just guessing, no papers. He was scared of everything. Flinched when I raised my hand to pet him. Obviously abused. Probably the inbred spawn of an outlaw puppy mill or the House of Windsor.
A crack of thunder still leaves him shaking with fear. He also is spooked by bicycles, kids on skateboards, most men, and people with Eastern European accents.
While Linda goes to her real estate office or elsewhere, Brady follows me from room to room. Never out of sight. I talk to him constantly. He never argues or contradicts.
Brady concedes the Rain Man reference. He’s a big fan of Dustin Hoffman, especially in Wag the Dog.
He’s less keen on the suggestion he’s the son of Sybil, with her sixteen personalities. Brady is loath to recognize his multiple personalities. He figures it’s up to the rest of us to adapt and accept.
In the year since I wrote about Brady in the last chapter of my book – and since I briefed him on the content – he has worked to overcome some his phobias.
While thunder still leaves him trembling uncontrollably, he is less afraid of bicycles and skateboards. He no longer growls at the chattering of the Eastern Europeans down the street.
On the flip side, his outbursts of barking and growling have increased along with his list of canine enemies.
From his second-story lookout at the sliding glass door in our kitchen, he has always barked hysterically at the sight of a neighborhood husky and others his own size.
But, lately, he also goes berserk when certain little dust-mop-looking dogs come into view. When I tell him to cut it out, he runs into the living room to wind down. But it takes him a while to switch off his barking engine.
When Yaz or Jasper misbehaved, which wasn’t often, I’d command: “Give yourself a shake and change your disposition.”
It usually worked.
I’ve tried it with Brady, who responds to “give yourself a shake” but pretends not to hear or know what “disposition” means.
It’s the same when I tell him to “stop obsessing” – which he does often when catching a scent on a walk or staring at a closet where he suspects a tennis ball is hiding.
I just checked OCD on PET MD.
Whew! No clear internet diagnosis.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Brady.
In his quiet time, after I take him for a nightly walk, he is a wonderful companion.
As I type this, he is under the desk, resting his head on my right foot. Later, when I move to the couch, he’ll snuggle at my side.
When I go upstairs to bed, he’ll follow, and assume his place, his head beside my pillow.
If I’m lucky, after Linda feeds him an early breakfast in the kitchen, Brady won’t get a whiff of one of his enemies and wake me up.