“Are you sure she won’t chomp on my hand?”
We had just brought home Abbie from the Humane Society and I was playing tug-of-war with her for the first time and she snapped the stuffed animal from my hands, clenched it hard in her teeth and buried it under her paws. She laid her head on her paws, looked up and gave me a very convincing “I’m-going-to-bite-you” look.
I decided not to try to find out, but if I had — the result would have been what the Fischer family has experienced for 14 years; this dog is very clever, plays poker well, and never bit anyone, ever. She was the sweetest dog you could imagine, even though she technically was a mixture of what many would consider two aggressive breeds in Shar-Pei and Pit Bull. My daughter, Christine, can train dogs well and has extensive experience in working with Dog Rescues, the Pound and the Humane Society since she was ten years old. She was right in stating that …
“Dogs want to please and will become whatever the owner creates.”
Many of you are new enough to the site to not know that Abbie was a star in my YouTube videos (viewed 1.8 million times) about the Oregon Spread Offense from over seven years ago. The favorite “Abbie appearance” of many is in this video about the Outside Zone Read, as Abbie endured a hot August day to get the cheese treats and provided the biggest “chomp” sound ever as she downed another piece of cheddar. She was also featured at 9:27 in that video, as well. She may have gained weight that day from all the snacks!
Readers hooted at how Abbie moved her head up-and-down with the cheese in this video while I was focused on speaking to the camera and following the script. Only later during editing did we see her lick her lips and keep the eagle eye on the prize. There were many other examples in the 50 videos, but these two were the most fun!
Our beloved dog and Official Mascot of FishDuck.com died last week from complications brought on by a rapid onset of cancer. So many of the coaches, writers, photographers and editors of the site have been to my home and met this superb dog. She would operate as a great watchdog, and once the visitor was approved by one of the Fischers? It was time for Abbie to sniff the interesting scents on these FishDuck.com contributors … and then go chew on a toy.
An endearing/frustrating trait of this unique dog was her “airy-whine” at meal time. We are all familiar with the typical whine a dog will emit when trying to get treats from the dinner table, but Abbie had the most perfect whine that I’ve ever heard ever from any dog or any breed. It was like the sound of a retired person on oxygen — the sound of the air going through the tube (“aaaaahhhh”). It was something she nailed. The whine was not enough to disturb our meal or to warrant putting her in another room during dinner … but it was just enough to remind us that she was there and wanted some food. It was done in such an obvious, yet subtle way. Quite clever!
In many respects it is still hard believe that she came to love and bond with our family considering what she had been through. Her former/first owner moved out of a duplex during the hot part of the summer and left her in the backyard to die. She was found five days later by Animal Control, severely dehydrated and traumatized. She was quickly turned over to the Humane Society, where Christine met her as a volunteer.
“How a dog can turn and love a human again after such mistreatment is God’s gift to all of us.”
For a long time, Abbie was aloof to all the volunteers, but gradually opened up to Christine. What we did not know until later is that the Shar-Pei breed part within her is fiercely loyal and bonds hard to one person. It became apparent to the staff that Abbie only had eyes for my daughter and would ignore anyone who even tried to get acquainted for potential adoption.
It was a surprise to Lois and I when Christine came home from her volunteer hours at the Humane Society one day and told us, “This is one time I did not pick the dog … the dog picked me!” Thus began a tremendous experience with a very special dog.
She could have a mischievous side to her as she would give “the-look” referred to in the first paragraph to approaching dogs while on leash in the local park. Those looks are very aggressive behaviors to other dogs and considered a challenge. Naturally, the other dog would come un-glued when Abbie gave him/her “the-look” and the owner would be pulling their dog back apologizing the whole time for this unexpected behavior.
It was Christine who would quickly apologize back to the other dog owner, look down and tell Abbie to “stop it” because our favorite little scamp was the provocateur in all these encounters. And she enjoyed it!
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has a gold-standard designation, the Canine Good Citizen, for dogs who pass a 10-step program. Christine enrolled Abbie, and the classes had numerous other dogs attend, most notably a massive and elegant German Shepherd who seemed to assume he was truly the top-dog of the group.
At a key part of the behavioral testing … our Abbie completed her trials, and then, as she headed back to her spot on leash with Christine, turned her head and gave that German Shepherd “the look.” The result was typical: the big dog lunged at Abbie and went nuts barking. As Christine was chastising Abbie for initiating it, she swore there was a smile on Abbie’s countenance, as our dog knew that the German Shepherd would not be at the head of this graduating class!
Christine went on to do Service Dog Training with Abbie and posted pictures and videos on Instagram, gathering a following until the beginning of her illness. Abbie would train and learn well when the cheese treats were plentiful, and goodness knows she had the intelligence to do much more, I’m sure.
After she died, the Canine-Angels wept while they lifted Abbie from the earth to her final destination. They were not the only ones to grieve, as the Fischer household will be hurting for some time.
Rest in Peace, my old friend.
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Top Photo by Christine Fischer
Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in digital marketing in Chicago, Illinois.
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