So some days I’m just an ass. There’s no other way to say it. I missed a golden opportunity to educate an uninvited visitor today about the wonders of the dog breed I love, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. At the same time, I’m pretty sure I got my message across. Here’s the story.

First some background on our dog, Oakley. She’s a wonderfully sweet slightly bananas, 130lb bundle of love. She is the model of patience and affection with our children. She loves nothing more than lying on the living room floor listening to either the 3yo or the 8yo read books to her for an afternoon…as long as they rub her stomach while they’re reading.

At the same time, the sliding glass door on the back of our house looks like it’s been attacked by zombies. There are mud smears from the top of the 8ft frame down to the bottom threshold. This is because SOMEONE refuses to bark to come in like other dogs.

Oakley insists on “knocking.” If you’re too slow and she gets agitated, she jumps higher with each successive knock. It’s truly a wonder of engineering that the door has held up this long. So all of that to set the stage for today’s tale.

I’m mowing the backyard and as I’m approaching the house from the back, I notice an unfamiliar uninvited individual leaning on the fence, craning his neck and scouting out my tool shed. So I turn off the mower, walk to the fence and call out, “Hi. What can I do for you?”

He starts to answer with, “Hey, you got any scraps…” that’s when we both hear the scrabbling of frantic claws on the wood deck and the barking starts. “Ba-ROO!!!”

The stranger takes a step back from the fence and now I’m thinking to myself, “you know what? I’m ok with this.” So I let Oakley bark a bit and make a few half-hearted attempts at silencing her. After a minute or so, I get a firm grip on her collar, place a hand on her muzzle and tell her directly, “Oakley, I’ve got this. That’s ENOUGH!” She was the model of a watch dog. She sat immediately, stopped barking, but was perfectly alert and let out the periodic “huff” as we resumed our conversation.

Suddenly my guest didn’t want to talk business anymore. “What kind of dog is that?”

“She’s a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Pretty, eh?”

“She’s big. Do they get bigger?

“Yeah, I can think of a few off the top of my head.” Mind you, two puppies from Oakley’s first litter have outgrown her and visited us recently. Big wonderful lugs they are.

Do you have any more?”

I chose to ignore that for the moment. “Actually, she’s had a couple of pups that are bigger than her.”

“She’s got puppies?!” Now he’s backtracking towards his pick up faster and looking nervously around my unfenced front yard and watching the house doors.

So I say to him, “Relax, she’s always behind the fence.”

The poor guy misheard me, and now he has his back to me half trotting to his truck. “She’s always climbing the fence?!”

Now I’m laughing to myself and say, “No she stays behind the fence….well, there was that one time, but she wasn’t gone long and didn’t do too much damage.” Which was all perfectly true. She scaled the fence to go play with the neighbor dogs once and they tore up his backyard.

The last thing he says to me as he’s slamming the truck door is, “I think I gotta be getting along.”

I smiled and waved and said, “it’s probably best.”

Good dog!