2014-01-09 – Lefty is a three-legged dog. Now don’t get upset. He has four legs but, in weather like we’ve been having, he walks on three. And it’s not always the same three. He’s not called Lefty because of his three-legged habit (I’ll get to that in a minute). If Lefty had his way, in weather like this, he’d be a zero-legged dog, but he can manage three and that’s it.
The reason, obviously, is that his feet get cold. I wear a parka starting when the temperature dips into the 40s. He is fine down to single digits but, after that, he hops around on three feet. Salt seems to aggravate the situation but the cold is what does it.
We’d keep him in, but he is adamant about peeing and pooping in the out-of-doors. He wasn’t always like this, but he is now. And it’s not just the out-of-doors. He’s looking for nature. During warmer weather it has to be grass. As the snow falls, he still want to go off the pavement. Good thing I have excellent boots. He sniffs all the tracks made in the snow before us, putting his nose into the hollow to get some really high-definition smells. You can tell when he’s found his spot when he comes up with snow crystals on his snout.
This week, though, the snow in the park was deep and his legs sank in. The snow came up to the undercarriage. If he had wheels, they’d be spinning. So we had to stick to the path. Our park paths are plowed before anything else in the city. (Four days in, our street is still unplowed, but the park path is clean.)
Of course the path is generally unacceptable for pooping use, being an unnatural surface. When we can’t go off the path, he looks for a spot that is inadequately cleared to hide the shame of it. Unfortunately, the search for an ideal spot keeps our persnickety dog out in the cold longer than he needs to be. And he has to walk home on three legs.
Now for why he is named Lefty. We got him from a breeder in Thunder Bay, Ontario when he was just a puppy. The family bred herding dogs to literally herd sheep. Lefty is an Australian Shepherd, mate, g’day.
Lefty’s birth name was Napoleon, but we wanted to give him a distinctive non-doggish name. Thinking of the images of Napoleon with one hand tucked in his coat, we hit upon the name Lefty (though, if you look, you find that images of Napoleon switch hands, just like Lefty switches feet when he is a three-legged dog).
Of course, Lefty had a political connotation that seemed funny to us (our dog as a political leftist—we never would have called him Righty). And the name also had a theatrical feel, as in the play by Clifford (“the big red dog”) Odetts called “Waiting for Lefty.” Which, of course, makes you think of “Waiting for Good Dog” by Samuel Beckett.