LEONARD 1989 - 1999
THE WORLD'S BEST WORST DOG SERIES - TAIL THREE
The Billy Goat
I should preface this story by noting, not all of Leonard's behavior is to be blamed on Puppy Kindergarten. (See, Tail - One
During the Brady Bunch era, Leonard was mascot to my sons, Marques and Rene and Sven's daughter Adrienne and our dining room was and it still is, made of windows.
The table at the time, was one of Sven's many creations and this one happened to be surfaced with ceramic tile.
Now, to a guy like Leonard, a guy who'd scored highest in his Puppy Kindergarten Class in table climbing, it was only fitting that he'd want to show off his advanced skills, at home, or wherever he happened to be.
That's just one of the many reasons Leonard wasn't invited to very many places.
He was sure that he was a watch dog and he was positive that Sven hade made that table solely for his use.
It never occurred to Leonard that a table was supposed to be a place for the family to gather. A place for the family to eat dinner. A place to for us all to sit down and enjoy each other's company and to share each other's day.
Well, we didn't use that table very often.
But, then again, there was always a ninety pound watch dog, laying on it.
Which came first, that table or that dog on that table?
I don't remember.
To be frank, we Brady's didn't always enjoy each other's company all the time, anyway.
The words that would best describe our situation would be, teenagers and step parents.
The only one under the roof who took no notice of the eggshell walking and the air that you could cut with a knife, would have been Leonard.
Adrienne, the oldest at fifteen, wasn't fooled by Leonard's little watch dogging act.
She dreamt one night that a gang of bad guys, slinging guns, broke into our house and tied us all up.
According to Adrienne, Leonard led the stubble-faced crooks, right to us and he wagged his tail all the way there.
The next morning, during breakfast in the living room, she bitched, "He traded us in for a freaking hotdog."
Leonard didn't say a word.
None of us were surprised.
He really did like hot dogs.
If one of those villains had tossed him a grape, Leonard would have shot the thing right back at him and could have taken out an eye.
But that would never have happened with a hot dog.
Although Leonard was positive that the table, sitting in the dining room, was a watch dog perch, he was instructed to stay off the thing, every day, many, many, times, by many, many people.
And he obeyed.
But, sometimes you'd have to pull on a leg to get him moving, and then he'd mumble and he'd grumble and he'd laboriously climb down, like it was a real imposition.
And then as soon as the room cleared or you just turned your backs, he'd hop right back up there.
It was like he was half goat.
But you know, sometimes being a watch dog can be real tedious.
It can be exhausting.
Not every day is filled with crooks, with guns and hotdogs.
And that's probably why Leonard always fell asleep, up there on that table.
As we'd pull in the driveway in the Brady wagon, we'd expect to see the silhouette of a big head with floppy ears, pop up through the dining room windows.
And sure enough it always did.
By the time we'd walk in through the kitchen door, Leonard would be doing a big old fashioned, table top, yawn and stretch.
That was one of my puppy kindergarten, miracle commands.
And then he would blink and then he would sigh and then he would clunk his way on down toward the floor.
But before his first paw even hit the rug, he'd realize that he was due for a treat, or a walk, or, wait just a dog gone minute, he was due for both.
And of course he got whatever he wanted.
We owed him our lives.
But Leonard didn't just use his climbing talents on our dining room table.
The picnic table was also fair game.
It was common to see a yellow lab, leap off the top of that table, toward any incoming traffic. I'm sure he scared the bejesus out of many a Sunday driver, who'd just happened to wonder where that long gravel driveway led.
When Leonard was in for an annual check up, impatience over took him. The vet was talking to us and leaving Leonard completely out of the conversation. With Tigger, spring-like action, he sailed straight up in the air and then landed with a thud on the examination table, between us.
There was a brief moment of stunned silence and then the doctor burst out laughing.
"I've never seen anything like that," he said. "My patients aren't usually this excited to see me."
"Yeah," I said. "Well, he learned that move here, in your puppy class."
And then one day, an old friend of Sven's, surprised us by driving in our driveway and parking a shiny, lime-green, classic, convertible, in front of the house.
I'd never met him before.
He seemed real nice, between the barking and the jumping and the jumping and the barking.
He came inside and Leonard went outside.
Sven's friend had a tour of the place and then we sat down in the living room with some refreshments and began to catch up on life.
I walked into the kitchen, looking for some napkins, when I just happened to glance out the spread of dining room windows.
"AWWWWWWW!!" I screamed inside my head.
"Sven," I said as calmly as I could. "Come here a sec."
Sven walked into the kitchen.
He looked in the direction my wide eyes were staring and then he went out the door.
And that is just one of the many reasons nobody ever visited us twice.