It's Friday March 7, 2014
She leaps, she crates, she doesn’t rip the stuffing out of Ducky Duddle’s head. Often. Ducky Duddle is her favorite chew toy. She is, says owner Bob Andrews, “the smartest dog I’ve ever had.”
It almost wasn’t so. “Prison,” says Bob, “saved Emma’s life.” For making the journey from death row pup to boon companion, TownDock.net names Emma Miss February – the Pet Of The Month.Bob and Emma
Bob Andrews never planned to have another dog. His wife of 51 years, Phyllis, passed away in March of 2007. Two years later, Bob’s dog Andy followed suit. “I’d always had dogs,” he says, “but I wasn’t looking for another one.” His life went quietly along. He gardened. He fished. He went to The Bean. He lived alone another year.
Then, he says, “my daughter Nancy decided I needed to have a dog.”
Nancy had found a dog that was up for adoption in Ohio. It had gone from shelter dog to inmate training program and was now ready for a new home. In August 2010 the black lab mix arrived at Bob’s home in Oriental. That dog was Emma.No more solo trips to the letterbox. Emma escorts Bob home from the morning mail run.
She’s been high energy from the start, preferring to dart instead of doze. Still, the bounding, whirling, leaping dog quickly settled into Bob’s routine. “She filled a big void.” he says. Right from the very start, Bob says, he and Emma start their days at The Bean.
Mornings, ten minutes before The Bean opens, Bob opens the door of his truck, and says, “One. Two.” On the word “Two”, the 62-pound dog leaps into the back seat. With Emma settled in behind him – she’s only allowed in the back seat – Bob rolls down her window and off they drive for coffee. Most mornings, they’re the Bean’s first customers. Bob goes inside for java. Emma stays in the truck.
Through the open window, she enjoys her second breakfast. There are doggie treats in femur, flat and bacon shapes. Mini versions of steak and porterhouse. Among her favorite, says Barbara Hardy, are Cesar’s filet mignon-flavored bite-sized treats — though she won’t turn down one of Woody Fuller’s Milk-Bones. Or, if Earl Evans happened to slip Liv-a-Snap through the window, she’d gratefully accept that, too.Bob takes in some early Bean caffeine as Emma scouts Hodges Street for doggie treats. The wait was short this morning as……Earl Evans happened to be passing by with a treat. It didn’t take Emma long to oblige.
Bob and Emma usually leave the Bean around 7a. Some days they head into town on errands. Others, they return home where Emma accompanies Bob on his chores around the house.Emma the yard dog: Stick-wise, Bob says, she’s better at chewing than retrieving.Emma the boat shop dog: Bob is building an 18-foot pulling boat in his garage. The strip-built craft is Newfound Woodworks’ “Liz” model. When it comes to boat building, Bob says, “Emma’s biggest contribution is staying out of the way.”
In addition to being a close companion, Bob says one of the great things about Emma is how she listens. “She’ll sit and look at you,” he says, “Like she’s thinking ‘What do I have to do?’” This explains why Emma jumps into the truck on precisely the word “Two”, and why to call her, Bob just slaps his pants leg with his hand.
Bob credits this to her prison training.
Unlike pedigreed purebreds, Emma’s earliest days are hard to pinpoint. When she arrived at Bob’s, the agency that adopted her out sent her official records. In those papers there is evidence of just how close Emma came to being put down. “Emma was scheduled for euthanasia at out local dog pound,” one document reads. “She was just a pup and we took her to our shelter.”
Somehow, Emma had caught someone’s eye and it was determined that instead of being destroyed, she’d be a good candidate for what her records describe as a “Cell dog training program”. Such training, it was thought, would make it easier for her to find an adoptive home.That’s how she found her way to a correctional institution. Or, where, as Bob puts it, she was “in the Pokey for 7 months.”Emma was in the big house
The correctional institute matched up inmates with dogs. Over the course of 12 weeks, each inmate – the trainer – taught the dog basic obedience skills. Sit, stay, down, heel. Emma entered the program in December 2009 and was released in July 2010. She completed two of the 12 week courses.
Bob says the training gave Emma a strong sense of routine, of picking up cues and responding.
Sunday mornings, Bob goes to church. He says, “When I get on my coat, she gets in her crate and waits for her treat.” The large crate occupies space under a kitchen counter. He doesn’t bother closing the door. Emma stays inside on her own.Bob goes to church. Emma goes to crate. Incorporating the crate into the kitchen was as simple as removing a cabinet panel and sliding the cage in place.
Bob says her positive relationship with the crate makes him wonder about the training she received in prison, not to mention the type of relationship she had with her inmate.
He thinks her prison crating experience was positive. Unlike some cases, where the cage is used for restraint, it was her sanctuary, her private place in the world, Bob says, “like her cave.” He doesn’t rule out that Emma may have slept close to the prisoners. Maybe in her trainer’s cell. He also wonders about the inmates that trained Emma. “I wonder what they were like. What were they in for?” For privacy reasons, this information is confidential. He’ll never know. Still, he thinks whoever trained Emma, “had to be a gentle person.”
While she may have enjoyed plenty of attention in prison, doggie toys were probably in shorter supply. It’s a shortfall for which she’s become well compensated.. In addition to Bob’s company, there are Ducky Duddle, Funky Monkey, Wiener Dog, Cuz, Froggy Roggy and Rhino Dog. Also Kong Wubba, Rubber Chicken, Squiggly Wiggly, and Bears Pink and Brown.Emma and ten of her closest friends – after Bob, of course.
When its just the two of them, Bob says she’s gentle with her toys. She will carry Cuz around in her mouth. She’ll give him a squeeze. Listen for the squeak. Drop him. And then pick up longtime buddy Ducky Duddle and give him a gentle chewing.
It’s when company shows up that the toys suffer.
Emma, in her excitement, grabs them, shakes them, then settles down to chew them. (We’re talking about the toys, not the company.) That’s how Wiener Dog was decapitated. How Ducky Duddle, after two years of companionship, recently had the stuffing ripped from his head. Bob says in most cases, he can repair the damage with needle and thread. In Ducky Duddle’s case, the damage was terminal. He’d been pulled open and sewn back together so many times his fabric skull could no longer hold his batting brains. Then there are the eviscerations. Recently, Emma ripped the plastic innards out of her blue doggie toy. That repair was easy. “They’re just a plastic drink bottle.” Bob says. “I pull out the old one, put a new one in.”Bob liberates Rhino Dog, stealthy-like, from Emma.Bob as plastic surgeon: Here, he is replacing Funky Monkey’s plastic bottle innards. The bottle makes a squeaky noise as the toy is chewed. When it wears out, it’s replaced with a new one.
For the most part, Emma know where to draw the line. “She’s never chewed on the furniture or drapes or anything like that,” Bob says. Less amusing are the times she slips up and chews things that can’t be repaired with needle, thread or a soda bottle. She’s chewed up 4 TV remotes and as many pocket size New Testaments. Bob says she’s gnawed them because they’re things he handles often. They have his smell on them.
How does Bob handle these mis-steps?
Sometimes, when she gets in trouble, Bob jokes he’s tempted to read her a line from her adoption papers, the one that states she can be returned. But there are too many people who love Emma for that ever to happen. Too many warm welcomes, scattered toys and Bean runs in Bob’s life to ever imagine going back to pre-dog days.
Even Hammons, Emma’s prison handler, predicted that. When Emma completed her stay at the correctional institute, the inmate filled out a form describing her stay. The last lines read, “She’s a great dog.” To her future owner, in bold handwriting, the inmate added, “You will enjoy her company.”
For putting the companionship and occasional dismembered pet toy back into Bob Andrew’s life, TownDock.net celebrates Emma – Miss February.Emma’s Bio
Celebrity Pet Most Resembles: Katherine Hepburn
Nickname: Stink Weed
Latin Motto: Carpe Remote
Question she hates most: Emma, where’s my Bible?
Pet Peeve: Cold air blowing on her nose
Annoying Habit: Eviscerating Funky Monkey in front of company
Favorite Movie: Escape From Alcatraz
Favorite Wine: Big House Red
Know a pet that is a standout? Send in some details and a photo to email@example.com. Tell why that pet deserves the coveted TownDock.net Pet of the Month Prize Package --- accolades, a pat on the head (snakes excluded) and a box of Milk Bones ( or snack suitable for the species).
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