Thursday, January 31, 2008


In the first days of owning Molly, we believed her behavior proved Basset Hounds were true lapdogs and not guard dogs. When we got Toula, however, we found she had a completely different personality.

One day in October of 2003 a horrendous wildfire came through our neighborhood and forced us to leave urgently, with just a few belongings and the lowdogs. As the fire raged, we stayed for a few days at a friend's house, which was contiguous to a walking path.

Toula, who was still a puppy under a year old at that point, started to alert to the people walking the path. Watching her prancing around the yard, smelling the air, and making ugh-ugh-ugh sounds, my friend said, "You've got yourself a guard dog", to which I replied with a laugh, "yeah, she guards her kibble!".

However, years later I look back on that period as the first time we realized the diversity in personality between the two lowdogs was pretty fine. Molly will bark at you, "Get on the sofa! I need your lap!", but Toula will bark, "ArOoohf, you better prove yourself! Good? Bad? BRING IT!"

Now, 5 years later, Toula still uses her animal intuition to alert us to things we don't realize are there, such as the next door neighbors entering their back yard, someone coming up the driveway (pizza guys beware), streetsweepers, or the gardeners coming.

The amazing thing is that the gardeners come every Thursday morning, and every Thursday morning Toula is up before us, thin lips growling and ugh-ugh-ughing through the house, prancing like a pony, ears going every which way. She knows when it's Thursday, knows when they're coming, and once the gardeners arrive, she is vindicated.

"See? I knew it! They're here! To blow leaves from our yard! It's the craziness again!"

Then, she'll search one of us out and look at us with her, "Are you insane? Don't you realize they're taking our leaves?" Out in the yard she prances around behind them, ensuring they don't do anything untoward.

Molly stays in the house looking through the window and barking support, "You get 'em, Toula! And when they're done, do a better job this time of inviting them in for a lap talk..."

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