Note: My dog Miles had to be put down today. Here is a piece I wrote about him many years ago. Goodbye, Miles. You were a great friend to have when we all needed one.
And Miles to Go
My oldest son Brian Rogers named our Sheltie after the jazz great Miles Davis. It's an odd name for a dog I know, but considering he named our other dog, a Chihuahua mix, Tatiana, because he thought she looked Russian; I guess that name makes just as much sense.
Brian brought the little Russian-Mexican doggie princess home as a replacement for our cat Ebony who passed away in 2006. He said we needed another female presence in the home to keep Miles honest and to torment him accordingly.
Bless her heart, Tatiana's been a great little addition to the family, but she can be a little overly sensitive at times. For example, whenever she gives me a reason to scold her, she gets down on her stomach and belly crawls under the couch. I think she does that just to make me laugh.
The modern age of Rogers' pet ownership all started years ago when my wife was researching a good dog to get the kids. She showed me this book she had with a picture of a breed that looked a lot like a miniature Lassie.
The book said this Shetland sheepdog breed, the Sheltie, was smart, loyal, and good with kids. I asked her why I didn't have a book like that when we were dating. Her page would have said smart, loyal, and would be best married to a rich dentist, jeweler, or antique collector.
Miles is the second Sheltie we've had. The first one was named Jack. I think Brian named him after one of the presidents, maybe Eisenhower. Now that he has gone on up to doggie heaven, I can say this without hurting his feelings that he wasn't near as smart as Miles. Jack was real hyper too, ran around in circles all the time, and barked a lot.
So much so that one day I said we should write the publisher of that breed book and suggest they add this line to the Sheltie description: smart, loyal, great with kids, runs in circles, and barks at atoms.
I guess they don't have harmonicas on the Shetland Islands because Miles can't stand the sound of my playing "Love Me Do" on mine. He looks constipated and howls like he's got a cactus thorn in his paw.
I find that strange too because Shetland is part of Scotland, a place well known for its bagpipe playing. How can a dog breed whose ancestors listened to that noise for centuries find a harmonica that revolting?
He finds it so distasteful he once even nipped me on the heel to get me to stop.
It's the same thing they do when they want sheep in the field to change direction. Just to see if it was a matter of song preference, I tried playing "Oh
Shenandoah" but no, he started a low growl and gnarled his teeth at me to indicate that he'd just as soon I stop playing all together.
Miles is by far the smartest dog I've ever had. He sleeps on his back like a human, understands conversational English, and will follow most hand signals.
He's even amber dogsterous and can shake your hand with either paw.
I can say, "Let's go get the mail," and he'll run to the front door and wait for me to open it. The day I taught him to do that I couldn't wait for the kids to get home from school so I could show him off.
I said, "Watch this; you won't believe what I taught Miles to do." I said.
"Miles, let's go get the mail." He just sat there and looked at me like I was speaking Latin, or some other language in which he was not quite as conversational.
I asked him what was wrong, "Why aren't you showing the kids our new trick?"
He said, "Mail doesn't run at 5 p.m. Besides, we already went and got it, remember?"
See? I told you that dog was smart.