By Mark Saunders
According to a recent article in the newspaper, there’s a new class of guard dog, named the “executive protection dog,” that can cost a prospective owner north of $200,000 to purchase. It’s usually a highly training German Shepherd who’s good with kids and bad news for the bad guys. Like a four-legged cross between Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis, the executive protection dog chews his way through villains, finds lost children, snuffs out fires, and still has time to play fetch with the family … all before dinner.
Next to these guys, Lassie was a slacker. Arguably your best home security alarm in Mexico is a dog, which is why the biggest market for these cost-as-much-as-a-house dogs is Mexico.
On the other hand, our dog was an “as is,” free to good home acquisition. Duke, a 75-pound, apricot-colored Standard Poodle, is seriously cute and looks like a baby Wookie who hasn’t figured out how to walk upright on two legs yet. When we take him with us along the narrow streets of San Miguel, he invariably draws a crowd and often gets photographed. The people taking the picture usually tell us to move out of the frame, for obvious reasons. Duke, of course, loves it.
And therein lies the rub. Duke’s a lover, not a fighter. The only time he shows aggression is when he’s around smaller dogs and that’s only if they start barking first.
Now, most dogs will bark, bare their teeth, and warn a stranger not to take another step. However, when a stranger comes to our gate, Duke barks and smiles broadly, with an expression that’s almost giddy and his happy tail wags like a spinning propeller. Instead of saying “Get out of here,” it’s more likely he’s saying, “Eeee-hawww!!! We have company. Let’s party!” Simply put, Duke is not a guard dog. A party animal, yes.
Don’t get me wrong. Duke loves to bark and, in fact, has the deep bark of an opera baritone who is enthralled to hear his own voice. I’m training him to bark to “Old Man River,” thinking if I can pull it off we’ll both get on the Letterman Show… or at least Dr. Phil.
But if masked intruders break into our house in the middle of the night, we have to hope one of them is carrying a barking little dog under his arm. I’m afraid that’s the only way Duke will rise to the occasion. Otherwise, we can expect El Dukerino to sleep through the night. We won’t but he will.
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