The dogs were part of the family reunion over the weekend, and, though we had 11 dogs and 27 people there, we were only concerned about one dog.
For some reason the old dog Chester does not like Uncle Ed. We’re not sure why. My other uncles had a few theories and shared some stories from their younger days, stories I’m not allowed to repeat here. My uncles claim to have raised hell in Manhattan three or four decades ago, but I just don’t see it.
Despite that, my uncle Ed is a great guy — he’d literally give the shirt off his back if you asked him for it.
But Chester still doesn’t like him. He’s nipped Ed twice — both when my son was nearby and soon after Ed got out of his car. Perhaps Chester was just being protective, maybe he didn’t like the smell of his dog; but knowing this history we were bound and determined not to have another repeat incident.
I tried locking Chester inside, but between all of the kids and relatives, people kept letting him out. On top of that Chester looks enough like his brother George, they’re often mistaken for one another, as the only difference between the two is that George has a bobbed tail and Chester does not.
So I spent much of the day chasing after the two dogs making sure they didn’t nip anyone. I found them hiding under the picnic tables, scrounging for scraps by the grill, passed out on the hot gravel of the lane, chasing after my younger cousins on the Gator, under a car or two — even on top of piles of dirty laundry and shop towels.
It turns out that Chester was feeling more sociable than protective, though. He really liked my cousin Joe’s new girlfriend, was thrilled to see aunts and uncles that came back from Topeka, Omaha and Kansas City and didn’t even mind my cousin Seth’s kids climbing all over him.
He put up with a lot more harassment by the kids than he would have at home. He would not have let Isaac or me pull his ears, pet him the wrong way or jump over him.
When it came to Uncle Ed, Chester sniffed him twice and wagged his tail, as if saying, “Yeah, I remember biting you.”
I’m told all it took to win him over was a steak bone.
All the extra attention and petting probably didn’t hurt either.