I got nothing to add. Except my thanks to my dog-lovin’ sister-in-law who sent me this picture. The origin is unknown. My guess is the Values Voters gang.
Category Archives: Dogs
When I wrote my story about Cooper and the wild boar he tried to befriend, well, I did it as a way to make my peace with my furry friend’s passing.
And as frequently happens when I write about things that hurt my heart, my blogging buddies have all helped me through what has been a sad few days. Thanks. It has made a difference.
Karen, from Mom in the Muddle commented that she’d never known anyone with a wild boar story And it occurred to me that I have several.
So I thought I’d tap that keg one more time, and tell you my other wild boar stories.
Spoiler Alert: Nobody dies. You’re welcome.
Linda was an English angel. We met when she came to my door about six months after we moved to Switzerland. By that point, I was incredibly lonely – my French was, ummm, sucky, and I knew very few people.
Then Linda knocked on my door. She spoke English. And she was moving in down the street with her husband and two, count ‘em two kids – a girl Jacob’s age (Catherine) and a boy (James) a year younger. Friends for my son! Did I mention that she was English. And that she spoke English?
While Linda was visiting that first afternoon, John called. I told him that we had a new neighbor who spoke English and that I wasn’t going to let her leave. I said this in front of Linda. Somehow, she didn’t take me to be some sort of psychopath and became my friend in spite of what must have seemed like a creepy thing to say.
Anyway, one evening after Cooper and I had our encounter, Linda was driving down the busy road that was next to our house. Linda drove a large, green Mitsubishi Montero, and that night she struck a fully grown, male wild boar. Only a car that size could have won such a jousting match. Linda was unhurt, and she called the local police, the gendarme, to report it. The men in uniform came rushing.
Now what do you think was their first question? Did they ask if she was hurt? If her car was alright? If she was traumatized by hitting and killing a beast that weighed as much as a truck?
No. Wrong on all counts.
“Madam, do yu vant it?” they said in heavily French-accented English. “Ze sanglier? Ze body? Ze boar?”
You see, the meat from wild boar is a much sought after delicacy in Switzerland and France. Linda was unaware of that fact.
Linda straightened her British backbone, stiffened her British upper lip and said in her most refined British accent:
Linda’s boar was given to a local bistro in the next town. The served sanglier à la chaise for the rest of the season.
I didn’t try it out of respect for Cooper’s pal, the boar who didn’t kill us. It only seemed fair.
* * *
Boaring story #2
In mid-2000 we moved a short ways away, across the border into France. There we had a lovely house, but the dog walks were less spectacular.
Still, every night after Jacob went to bed, John or I would take Coops for a walk. We took turns, because Jacob was still too young to leave alone. We were still surrounded by farm fields, but the views and the walks now along town streets that meandered alongside of farm fields, instead of farm roads that criss-crossed them. These roads were built for cars, and darn it all, people used them to drive on!
John insisted on taking a flashlight whenever he went for a walk at night. I thought he was a pansy. I mean, really, there were streetlights here and there, plus your eyes adjust to the darkness and I for one could see just fine in the dark, thank you very much. I was not a pansy; I didn’t carry a flashlight.
And you know, that was probably just as well, because one night while Cooper and I were out, we walked down a road that was busy enough to require me to leash Coops. And it was a good thing. Because as we came around a curve I noticed something silhouetted in the streetlight 30 feet ahead of us – a full grown, tusked, wild boar.
Male wild boars have tusks that protrude from their lower jaw. They use these tusks to skewer dogs and people who displease them.
Cooper and I stood very still and watched him. The streetlight glistened on his tusks which were quite large. I figured they would easily go through either Cooper or I. Maybe both.
Unless we died from the stench. Wild boars seem to have an aversion to water. And soap.
After about 10 minutes that seemed a whole lot longer, Pumba moved on into the farm field on the other side of the road. There was a dip of about two feet between the road and the field, and Pumba negotiated it easily.
Phew! Another boaring averted.
* * *
Naturally, I started to become a wee bit nervous. Paranoid. Fearful of large mammals that might kill me and my dog.
I was pretty sure I wouldn’t do anything stupid around a wild animal. I respected them. I admired their strength. Their wildness. Their ability to kill me if I ticked them off. So I knew that I was safe.
Cooper? There was not even the slightest chance that he would be sensible. So during the fall, when the wild boar were known to be around, I kept him on the leash in the evenings. I was learning.
I did decide that maybe my husband John wasn’t such a pansy after all. Perhaps, I thought, just perhaps, a flashlight wasn’t such a stupid idea. It could let me see what was going to attack me, although sometimes I think you’re better off not knowing what’s gonna hit you. Still, maybe having a flashlight would give me a blunt instrument with which to defend myself. I looked at the six-inch plastic flashlight in my hand and realized that I was totally screwed in the weapons department.
One night, not long after Cooper and I had seen Pumba basking in the streetlamp, that we had another sighting. I was starting to worry that my luck just couldn’t continue. Time was running out. How many times can you be in close contact with a wild boar without getting boared?
It was getting on towards December. There was a distinct chill in the air. The leaves were off the trees, the shrubs were bare . The moon was full that night, and so I left the flashlight at home. I could see just fine in the bright light that needed no batteries. Of course, just when I needed the moon, it chose to disappear. And that is when I looked to my left and saw the dim outline of yet another wild boar. And this one was even bigger.
This wildlife crap was beginning to get on my nerves.
“SHIT!!!!” I thought. “What is with these pigs? Do I have a ‘Gore me’ sign on my back? Or one that says ‘Secretly wants to be Boared?’ ”
Does Mother Nature truly have a warped sense of humor?
In the dim light, I could just see the animal slowly walking, straight towards me and Cooper. We slowly backed away, but it kept coming. Slowly and steadily it lumbered our way, prolonging my fear. Why not kill me and get it over with?
I swear, this animal was even bigger than the last boar we’d seen. From its size and shape, I figured it was possibly the largest wild boar on earth.
And then, just when it was at the edge of the field, about 20 feet away from frozen me and squirming Cooper, something surprising happened.
The wild boar mooed.
The farmer had apparently just moved his herd of cows to that field the other boar had crossed. It had previously been empty. The moon came back out and shined down on me, as I laughed uproariously. Cooper looked confused but he wagged his tail and tugged on his leash. He wanted to play with the cows. Of course, they don’t much like dogs, either.
* * *
Cooper and I never again met a wild boar. And you know what? That suits me just fine. Because dealing with one sanglier was memorable. A whole herd of them was just getting boaring
It promised to be a glorious day, and magically, I woke up early. I snuck out of bed without waking John, grabbed some clothes and went quietly to the living room. I opened the shutters and looked out to see the slightest bits of pink light starting to color the sky outside. Dawn was just breaking, and it looked to be a beautiful start.
“Wanna take a walk?” I asked Cooper, my year-and-a-half old Springer Spaniel.
Cooper wagged his tail, and headed towards the door. We grabbed his leash, my red jacket, and headed out into the morning.
And the morning was glorious. A November morning. Indian Summer, if there can be Indian Summer in Switzerland where there never were too many Indians.
We lived in the midst of dog and dog-lovers’ heaven. Our tiny house was located on the outskirts of a small village 20 minutes outside of Geneva, Switzerland in farm country. Our chalet looked just like a cuckoo-clock, and it stood as the last clock on a rural lane in what looked like a display of seven cuckoo-clock houses. Across the dirt road from the clocks were farm fields. The fields crossed the road to the left of our house and went on and on. Wheat, corn, hay, sunflowers, rape seed. The fields sloped gently down and gave way to vineyards and apple orchards until the hills gently ended at the town of Nyon and Lake Geneva. The Alps, with Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, rose above the Lake and the other mountains, as if placing its arms around the gang of mountains it hung out with.
Magestic. Magical. Make-your-heart-sing-like-Julie-Andrews-beautiful.
It was about 5:30 when Cooper and I headed out. We crossed the busy road that ran to the left of our house, and I let him off the leash. It was getting lighter, and I walked and watched my dog run, both of us smiling. He’d run a bit, then come back to check on me and run off once again.
Springer Spaniels are expressive dogs – their sad looks can melt your heart. But when they run, they embody joy. Pure and simple joy. And on that morning, Cooper ran with abandon through harvested corn fields that we passed first. His ears flapped and happiness spread across his face as he ran and jumped over cornstalks and literally ran circles around me in his delight.
We continued on the straight farm road that paralleled the Lake, passed fallow fields to where the road turned at a right angle and led us downhill towards the lake. By now, it was lighter — I could just start to make out Nyon Castle in the distance, although it was so far away that if you didn’t know it was there, you really couldn’t see it. The road crossed another farm road, and so we turned to the right again to continue on our normal loop that would lead us home, after a walk of about 2-1/2 miles. It was full morning, now; the sun glistened on Lake Geneva, the snow topped peaks and me and Cooper.
Up ahead on the left and right were fields of grass that would soon be harvested for hay. Cooper ran ahead and disappeared into the tall grass. I watched as the grass parted, showing me just where he was and how far he’d run.
But then I noticed a second line where the grass was parting for somebody else. Or something else. Whatever it was, it was heading straight towards Cooper.
Possibly the best way to describe Cooper would be as a fur-covered marshmallow. Everything inside — good and sugary. As a soft, squishy, completely sweet thing, Cooper didn’t understand aggression. Somehow it all worked out though – aggressive dogs never attacked or bothered him. Cooper wanted to play, and his playfulness was infectious. Even the most aggressive dogs found him endearingly stupid; and they always played with the sweet dope.
Still, when frightened, Cooper became a complete coward. If something frightened him, well, Cooper would run to me and hide behind my legs. Or behind John’s legs or later, behind Jacob’s. An all-inclusive coward, he’d hide behind us one and all.
So when the two paths in the grass converged, I wasn’t surprised at all to see Cooper come springing out, his face the picture of delight. He had a new friend, and was running towards me to share the good news.
There are some friends you just shouldn’t introduce to your mother. This was one.
Cooper had met a wild boar. An enormous, wild f’ing boar.
She came out of the grass, and stopped in the middle of the road and stood there, all 250 pounds of her. She strutted her impressive bulk and looked from side to side.
I stood there, frozen, my mouth agape. I watched her breathe, knowing that I was unlikely to remember this meeting fondly.
I could see the sun touch the edges of her coarse, bristled fur where it was lighter than the part that came out of her back or side or anywhere else on her 250 pounds or so of solid flesh.
I could hear her breathing from about 75 feet away, as I backed up slowly. She breathed in and out, sometimes through her snout, and sometimes in wet breaths through her lips, which flapped occasionally. She breathed loudly.
I could smell her. She needed a bath. Or a run through a field of lavender, preferably in France.
We had been warned about wild boar, but in spite of long twice daily walks through the fields, we had never seen hide nor hair nor bristle; we didn’t worry. Cooper was delighted with his new friend. And he rushed over towards me to tell me so. I wasn’t so easily smitten.
Wild boars do not like dogs, they are known to attack and kill them. They aren’t fond of people, either. And rumor has it they aren’t terribly playful. And I wasn’t anxious to turn my lovely morning walk into a learning experience, either.
I looked over in the direction of the house and suddenly realized something extremely important:
It’s a long crawl home.
“Cooper, Come!” I shouted, stupidly, automatically.
In fact, I was not sure I really wanted him to come to me. Would I take on a wild boar to save my dog? Not if I thought about it logically. But then logic really has very little room in the brain of a dog-lover. Of course I would have taken on a wild boar to save my younger, dumb son. And of course, I would have lost. Especially since, in looking about, I realized that we were in the middle of a farm field and there wasn’t so much as a protective twig in sight. Damn the compulsively tidy Swiss.
I did not want to be wild boared.
Cooper, oblivious to the danger he was dancing around, he kept going up to the boar, prancing in front of her, running in circles around her, begging her to chase him, just like his doggy pals did.
“Come on, play!” he was obviously saying.
“Go away,” she was clearly thinking as she aimed a cold, bored glare at him.
I was pretty sure that if she chased him, it wouldn’t be to play. And then naturally, Cooper would panic, not know what to do. Oh who am I kidding – Cooper’s first and only though would be “MOM!” and he would run and hide behind me. And the boar would kill me, an innocent bystander.
I looked at my red jacket, glad I had worn that one so that they could find my crumpled, maimed, boar-ed body more easily.
“Dammit, Cooper, Come! Now!” I said more softly, trying to get him to leave her alone.
Nobody ever listens to me.
Cooper ran away from the boar towards me at last, but then he turned and ran back to her, again, circled around wagging his tail furiously, still trying to get her to play.
But suddenly, the situation changed. “Cooper, Come. Now!” I screamed it this time.
Because the boar had turned her head. She was now looking at me.
Naturally, Cooper ran around her again and fortunately she forgot about me in her irritation at the stupid dog. The boar, who seemed to have finally caught her breath, looked at Cooper like he was her pesky little brother. She shook her head once more, dismissive of the pest, and continued on her way uphill through the grass field. The grass separated as she pushed her way through.
Cooper came back to me, defeated, deflated, rejected. He looked sad in that tearful, long-eared way only a Springer spaniel can have. My boy’s feelings had been hurt. I was glad it had only been his feelings.
* * *
Cooper loved those fields, where he could cavort in relative safety, where he could run free, with his ears flapping. Doggy Heaven. Of course, it really didn’t matter where he was, Cooper was happy wherever he was, as long as John, Jacob and I were there with him.
Today, that’s where Cooper is – in doggy heaven. I am sure that he is back in the fields near Gingins, Switzerland. Running with unrestrained joy, looking out over Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc and the Alps. He’ll have his young dog body back, with no aches, pains or problems.
I hope he doesn’t run into any wild boars, though. Because it’ll be a while before John, Jacob or I will join him. For a while, there’ll be nobody for Coops to hide behind.
March 9, 1998 – August 13, 2013
We arrived in Old Town more or less on time, and I parallel parked the VW. I’d already learned not to let Goliath out on my side of the car, so I got out and walked around to the sidewalk side to get him. As always, I held tightly to Goliath’s collar while I attached his leash. The moment he heard the “click” of the clasp on his collar, he pushed past me. He was ready to go. And so naturally, he went.
As usual, he dragged me along. He’d stop suddenly whenever anything smelled particularly good (Dog pee! That smells great!) Then pull me to the other side of the sidewalk (Look, a French fry!) and back to the original side (Hey, a different dog’s pee – smells great too!)
After about 5 minutes, I managed to haul Goliath the way I wanted — to a storefront on the corner. We’d arrived for his first obedience training class at The Olde Towne School For Dogs.
The Olde Towne School for Dogs was (and is) the best obedience school in the DC area. Several of the dogs I knew from Lincoln Park went there, as did Phoebe, my friend Jean’s Chow-chow. They offer private lesson with a trainer, and everybody I knew raved about the place.
I’d called earlier the previous week to see if they could help me with Goliath. Because after 4 months of trying to manage him, I finally admitted I needed help with my crazy dog. I had never trained a dog, and I was failing miserably at my attempts to get Goliath to obey me. To the extent any of our dogs growing up were trained, Dad did it. I played with them, taught them tricks, but really, I didn’t have a clue even where to start training. And I knew that I should have started training much earlier than I did with Goliath.
I simply couldn’t have a dog that dragged me around the way Goliath did.
Because, of course there was the other issue that I pretended wasn’t there. Sooner or later, somebody was gonna cut me open.
You see, in spite of my reluctance, Dr. C kept mentioning surgery for my colitis. It was progressing and not in a good way. I was getting sicker. My flare ups were getting more frequent and more severe. And while I was dead set against it, I had to face reality. There was a very real chance that sooner or later somebody would operate on me. And I was pretty sure that my recovery would not be enhanced by being jerked down the road by an over-eager crazy dog who didn’t know how to heel. Or listen. Or obey. In fact, I was pretty sure that being dragged down the street on my belly wouldn’t be part of any doctor’s post-surgical instructions.
And so I called Olde Towne School for Dogs and spoke with Carlos, the owner. I explained my situation, and he agreed to take Goliath on as a student. Equally important, he agreed to let me pay individually for each lesson. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the $200 their training classes cost back then, not all at once, anyway. Equally unfortunately, my crappy health didn’t let me not train my dog. Carlos was a lifesaver, even before we met.
Goliath and I arrived at the white storefront of Olde Towne School for Dogs that hot summer day, and I opened the door to the combination school and dog boutique. Goliath, delighted that he could go inside, dragged me inside full speed.
He yanked me to the left — (Look! Treat Bins!) To the right — (Look! Toys for Me!) To the big bags of rawhide and other chew toys — (Oh Yeaaahhhhh! Mommy this place is GREAT!). In his excitement, Goliath yanked me to just about every single display in the store. Then, blushing, I yanked him up to the counter and the cash register, where a tall, dark and handsome man frowned at us.
“This must be Goliath,” Carlos said.
“How did you guess?” I responded with a smile. Carlos didn’t smile back.
Carlos took Goliath’s leash, held him tightly, and led us to the back of the store and into a training room.
“Sit,” he said. I sat. Goliath did too.
Carlos silently examined Goliath, scratched his ears, rolled him over, rubbed his belly. Got to know him a little bit.
“The first thing this dog needs to learn is that you are not wrapped around his paw,” Carlos said.
I chuckled. “But I am.”
Carlos stared at me for several seconds before turning back to Goliath.
“The first thing that you need to learn is that you are in charge.”
“OK.” I didn’t try to make any more jokes. Carlos didn’t seem to appreciate my sense of humor.
“And never, ever again let me see this dog drag you into my store. Never.”
“OK,” I said sheepishly.
Then we got to work.
Carlos pulled a choke chain collar and a six foot leather leash out of a wicker basket in the corner. He took off Goliath’s leather collar.
“This won’t work,” he said, handing me Goliath’s old collar. “Fabric collars look great, but they don’t help in training or restraining a dog. And Goliath needs both.” Carlos kindly didn’t mention that Goliath needed both training and restraining desperately.
Carlos didn’t like my leash, either, a drug store special with 10 inches of cheap leather at the top and chain going down to the clasp. I knew then that it was going to be an expensive training course –10 minutes in and I already needed a new collar and a new leash — that’d cost me at least 25 bucks. And there was no way I’d get through all those dog toys and chew bones without getting my baby something.
Carlos demonstrated how to put on the choke chain in a “P” formation, so that when not being used to correct Goliath, gravity would let it fall into a loosened position. Putting the collar on backwards could be uncomfortable and even possibly dangerous for the dog.
Then Carlos stood to Goliath’s right, and our lesson really started.
While explaining to me that each command should be clear and one syllable, Carlos gently tugged Goliath up from where he was lying into a sit position, saying “Sit.”
“Goliath knows that one!” I said proudly.
Carlos just looked at me.
“Up!” he said, getting Goliath to stand.
Goliath, however, didn’t realize that he was only supposed to stand up, and lunged for the door.
“No!” said Carlos as he immediately corrected Goliath with the choke collar and leash. Carlos had been expecting it.
Goliath was shocked. (What do you mean I can’t do what I want!) Goliath sat attentively, looking up at Carlos with respect he’d never shown me.
“That’s what you have to do every time he lunges like that. He may not do that.” Carlos said to me looking at me in the eye. He then showed me how to keep to Goliath’s right, how to hold the leash properly, in two hands with the right thumb through the loop, and how to position him right next to me, walking at my pace, not Goliath’s. I looked at Carlos with respect, too.
We went outside and started walking the streets of Old Town, Alexandria, Goliath falling into step with Carlos when Carlos held the leash, and less so with me, when I took my turns. That first lesson, we taught Goliath to stop and sit at street corners instead of charging ahead into the street — an important lesson for a city dog.
As Goliath began to learn, Carlos began to relax, although it was took several lessons before Carlos let me know it. Years later when I saw him, he remembered Goliath’s first venture into the store with a chuckle. “That dog was something else,” he said, “yes, I remember him dragging you into the store.”
Goliath mastered Heel in minutes when Carlos held the leash. Right from the start, Goliath idolized Carlos and did exactly what Carlos told him to do. Every time.
It took me much longer to get the hang of the commands. In fact, I’m not really sure I ever did. Especially the one that said I was in charge.
* * *
This is another chapter in the memoir I’m writing about my psychotic, alcoholic German Shepherd. Other posts about Goliath can be found on FiftyFourAndAHalf :