I met Clara the Corgi last fall in Knoxville when she was still a puppy, looking for all the world like she was made out of spare parts: German Shepherd ears, quarter-scale Australian Shepherd legs, Basset Hound body, intense cartoon Mouse face… At that time, she could climb the stairs to get to the bedrooms, but she couldn’t figure out how to get back down. Things aren’t much different now – the spare parts have all grown, but in the same mis-matched scale as before. However, she has developed the “coiling slinky toy” technique for getting downstairs, alternating front end to the east and rear end to the west, two steps at a time. My Dad would have called that technique “ass over teakettle”.
She takes her security guard cues from Tay, a large (and slightly slow-witted) black Labrador, when anyone approaches the house or drives up the drive. Clara trots up and stares urgently at Tay, the question clear on her face, “What should we do, Boss?!” Tay determines, after careful consideration, whether or not they should A) bark hysterically, B) raise hackles and rush madly but mutely to the door, or C) just keep hanging out and shredding stuffed toys. Options A and B are obviously Clara’s preferred choice, and there was ample opportunity for both as the house remodeling crews came and went during our recent visit. But like a good pack dog, she follows her leader. If option C can’t be avoided, she demonstrates her distaste with one disgruntled backwards “woof” as she returns to her cushion. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.