Dog Named Leaf

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Book: Dog Named Leaf by Allen Anderson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Allen Anderson
opportunity. I answered questions with one hand while trying to hold him in place. My voice rose from normal to high pitch and then to a level only dogs could hear. Leaf slipped out of my grasp.
    When it was Linda’s turn to answer a serious question about how many animals had been rescued after Hurricane Katrina, Leaf jumped on the couch. He ran across the end table and unsettled a large lamp. I put my phone down as quietly as possible and managed to catch the lamp before it crashed to the floor.
    As I precariously held the lamp with my left hand and grabbed for the phone receiver with my right hand to hear the host’s next question, Leaf sprinted over to Linda. Then he loped back around to me. My phone cord wasn’t long enough for me to place the lamp back on the end table.
    Attempting to do a serious interview about the state of animal rescue in our country with a rescued cocker spaniel destroying our living room struck me as funny. I stifled a laugh.
    At this point the host asked me a specific question. My heart rate increased. I found myself out of breath. I blurted out an answer, which needed more detail. My voice sounded like it came from our cockatiel Sunshine. Linda watched, unfazed by the pandemonium. She remained professional while we were on the verge of ruin.

    Leaf’s reactions to being thrust into a home with people and animals who were all strangers to him caused his anxieties to multiply. But withone innocent purchase, we were able to at last see how sweet he could be when he felt safe.
    We had picked up some throw-balls and chew bones for Leaf right after adopting him. A couple of weeks later, Linda bought a stuffed toy dog at the pet store. It was a replica of a long-bodied dog with little feet and made a squeaking sound when its bulbous black nose was squeezed. The middle part of the toy made a noise that sounded like a hungry tummy in need of more dog food.
    After Linda presented the toy dog to Leaf, he sniffed it and then grabbed its body in his teeth, which made it squeak. From that moment on, Leaf was in love. He took his toy everywhere with him, from room to room, to his bed, on to the couch, to the kitchen, and to his potty outside.
    Watching this lonely little boy hold on to what appeared to be the first toy to which he felt an attachment touched my heart. At night and during day naps, Leaf would have his foot-long stuffed toy snuggled tightly next to his body. He’d go to sleep with his legs wrapped around it. It was as if he had never had anything so wonderful that belonged only to him.
    One afternoon we noticed the toy dog propped upright against the window with its nose and eyes peering outside, while Leaf napped on the couch. It was placed in the spot where he regularly sat and watched the world go by.
    As I sat on the couch later that day, drinking a cup of tea, Leaf did it again. He carefully placed his toy upright, with its nose and eyes pointing toward the sidewalk. He leaned the toy against the windowpane in such a position that if it were a living creature, it could watch the neighborhood dogs walking past our house. Then Leaf jumped on the couch and immediately went to sleep.
    I was amazed at how he had placed the stuffed animal in exactly the right position. It was as if Leaf had decided to make the toy dog stand guard while he snoozed. Or perhaps he had assigned it the task of keeping watch for possible visits from neighbor dogs. I wondered if Leaf wastelegraphing the message, “Won’t you come in to my house? I have this great toy we could play with,” to the neighborhood.

    Our home, as a war zone, subsided when the cats got better at handling Leaf’s incessant chasing. One afternoon Linda and I witnessed a tussle between Speedy and his canine nemesis. Speedy was stretched out on the living room sofa’s backrest. He looked like a true Lion King with his gray coat and whiskers.
    Leaf usually liked to settle on the same high perch, but today Speedy had claimed the territory as

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