by Mark Hartley
Sophie and Stella are the names of the family's Boston Terriers. They are only the fourth and fifth Boston Terriers, respectively, to enter into my life. I married into the craze. The other BTs of my life have been Beau, Molly, and Jigs.
The madness will continue long past my departure from this planet. Way too many discussions focus on the name of the next Boston Terrier puppy that will become master of the Hartley household. Bridget is the current number-one choice for a name, replacing Ethel from just a week or so ago. Believe me, this silliness will persist until we actually pick a Boston Terrier out of a litter (then, of course, someone will initiate the process for the subsequent one).
Since my wife is frequently guilty of leading these discussions on what to name the "next" Boston Terrier, I've discovered the best way to end them. I sincerely think Sally would be a good name for a Boston Terrier. The trouble is that my wife's best friend is also named Sally. So almost all of these intense, brain-racking searches for the perfect name conclude with a sigh from her and the declaration: "We're not going to name her Sally!"
Woof! Woof! I can get back to watching football.
Sophie, of course, sides with me in regard to these conversations. We're not going to purchase another Boston Terrier until one of the dogs moves on to the meatloaf buffet in Heaven. Since she's the oldest (10 years old), I would imagine that Sophie finds these conversations disquieting and premature, to say the least.
Sophie and I are on the same page on another matter too. Stella, who's not even two years old yet, is still frisky. Everyone likes to hold up a tennis ball, or whatever her current desire to chew is, up in the air and say, "Vertical leap!" Stella typically will oblige with a very impressive vertical leap straight up in the air to snatch the ball, sock, etc.
Sophie and I don't do vertical leaps anymore.
Beau and Molly were excellent retrievers of tennis balls, and the latter could climb over a chain link fence (a feat I still have on videotape somewhere). Jigs was big for a BT, and he could just jump over a chain link fence, barely touching the top with his paws. He was kind of mean at times. From that point on, female was the gender we searched for among puppies.
Stella's and Sophie's claim to fame is that they are trained to protect our property from Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy. Whenever family members feel restless, they'll discreetly rap their knuckles on a table or a wall — imitating the knocking sound on a door — and, with alarm in their voices, cry out: "Who's that? Where's Alex Trebek? Is Trebek in the house?"
Both dogs never fail the security test. They arise from peaceful activity to race around the house, barking as ferociously as a Boston Terrier can. I'm not 100 percent certain, but the barks may be in the form of a question.
I should point out three things:
- It is my opinion that Boston Terriers have too much vacant space between their ears.
- We don't anticipate a visit from Alex Trebek. It's not like he's my cousin or anything.
- My wife and daughter enjoy Jeopardy, watching it whenever time permits.
In a roundabout way, I just wanted to say that I found Cat Schmidt's profile of Ruth Carey in this issue to be pleasurable reading. Carey satisfied a need for something different by raising guide dogs. The preceding two sentences seem simple enough for me to write. So why did I spend the first 500 or so words telling you about my dogs?
I recently watched a show on public television about raising guide dogs. As you can read in the article, it's a challenge to get the puppies prepared for assisting a blind person, for example. The documentary confirmed that the dogs have to be completely focused as a helpmate and not be distracted by such things as playful children. What puppy doesn't want to frolic with kids? Not all of the dogs make it to "graduation." In the documentary, they showed one dog being transitioned back into the mainstream of the canine world. The dog was in a kennel, trying its best to ignore a neighbor that was yip-yapping back and forth along the fence.
Guess what breed the neighbor was? Yep, a Boston. No, the "rejected" guide dog wasn't named Alex or Trebek. Although the narrator didn't say, the Boston Terrier was probably named Sally.