By Eilene Lyon
She has always stood at the ready to protect us: from lizards, squirrels, bears, hummingbirds, flies, and free-range garbage trucks. Kyra is now into her second decade of guard duty.
We didn’t name her. In retrospect, she should have been christened with a warrior’s name – “Xena” or “She Who Eats Skunk Butts for Breakfast.” You know, something fierce.
We call her “Punkin’ Pie” at times, because the top of her head looks like a slice of pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream on top. But she’s no sweet treat. At least not to anyone but us.
It’s been a challenge to domesticate a dog with a checkered past, through no fault of her own. When we adopted her at 1½ years old, she’d been abandoned and adopted out at least five times already. The clouds of dander she sloughed caused more than one surrendering due to allergies. She’s been the only pet I’ve ever had that gave me an allergic reaction, but it seems to have subsided.
In one case, a burglary traumatized Kyra, but no one knows what really happened. Certain people will set her off a-nipping (she’s part heeler, after all), but it’s a mystery to us who might be a trigger. Usually, but not always, it’s a man.
Even her attitude toward other dogs is baffling. Frequently she’s hostile, but she loves yellow labs, in particular. She is in essence a dog-dog, not a people-dog.
When we come home, she’ll bend in half wagging her welcome, howling to emphasize that she’s so happy we’re back. Then she’ll ignore us completely. But she’s always standing guard (or lying in the driveway). Unless she hears thunder or a neighbor duck hunting. Then we must protect her.
If a real threat were to appear, we can’t possibly predict her response. But I feel pretty safe from rabid ATVs and the like!