Tanked (#368)

We spent several months depressed and dog-less before I spotted a video of a gray bully mix named Tank on Petfinder. The video showed Tank playing fetch with a young boy. Tank even sat nicely with a cat.

I showed the video to Andy. “Look! He’s great with kids and cats! He’s trained. And he’s under eighty pounds!”

Andy agreed. I called the rescue and arranged a time to meet Tank. We showed our son the video. Dalton promptly dubbed the dog “Tankie De Jong” after watching Tank chase a ball into a pool, a couch, and the bushes.  Dalton, who was all about soccer, told us that Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong always had to have the ball.

It turned out to be an accurate comparison. Tankie was friendly when we met him, accepting pets and giving sniffs, but the second a ball appeared? Nothing else existed. He barreled through any obstacle to get a thrown ball, then raced back to the closest human, dropped the ball, and waited for it to be thrown again. (This was novel. Getting the ball back from some dogs could be…difficult.) Tankie would sit and stay on command, lie down, high-five, and go to his crate. He even had perfect recall off leash.

There are, at any given time, between 26,000 and 44,000 stray dogs in Los Angeles. The majority are chihuahuas, followed by American pit bull mixes and American Staffordshire Terrier mixes. Tankie looked like thousands of other stray, gray bully mixes. He was found on the streets of Moreno Valley, unaltered, at age 2-4.  Months later, he was pulled from the shelter by a rescue.

A picture Tank’s foster mom took soon after she got him.

Tank spent at least a year in foster care, overlooked in favor of younger dogs.

His foster mom had been working with him for months, hoping that a someone would value training enough to opt for an older dog instead of a cute puppy.

And here we were, smitten, taking Tankie home for a two-week trial period. We just needed to make sure he was a good fit and that the boss was okay with our choice.

 And no, Dalton was not the boss.

This was the boss.

The Boss

Boss Cat was her full name, and she ran the household. She loved dogs—especially hitting them in the face—but she had refused to be in the same room as the last dog we’d brought home for a few days.

I warned Tankie’s foster mom that if Boss Cat didn’t like Tankie, we couldn’t keep him. She gave me a can of compressed air and said, “Use this if he acts up. He really, really hates it.”

Once he arrived, Tankie immediately made himself at home. He played with Dalton and a dog-proof soccer ball. He crashed on his outdoor bed on our sunny patio. He was a dream on our walk up to the park. Since no one was around, I let Tankie off leash.

Tank and his newfound football

He promptly found a discarded football and brought it to me for the inevitable game of fetch.

When we got home, I put him in his crate. Boss Cat walked by, stopped, and glared at Tankie. I grabbed the can of compressed air.

Tankie sat up on his haunches, ears perking into an alert. And barked a single, angry bark.

“NO!” I shouted, shooting compressed air into his face. Tank dropped immediately into a submissive pose. “Absolutely NOT!”

Boss Cat stalked away.

Tankie never barked at her again. He did his best not to even look at her. Boss would come sit within a foot of Tankie and glare, her tail lashing back and forth. Tankie would stare resolutely at the wall, or put his back to her.

Then she’d move until she was right up in his face, as if to say, “Come at me, bro. I got five daggers on each paw and I will CUT YOU.”  And still Tankie would look away. Sometimes he would look at me, checking to see if I noticed what a Very Good Boy he was being in the face of such outrageous feline provocation.

Tankie’s last test was three small children. My Boyfriend-Stealing Baby Sister came to visit with her kids—none of whom were known for having impulse control. I gave them all a very firm lecture on how to behave with Tankie.

“We’ll be very good with your dog,” they promised.

“Well, he’s actually not our dog yet,” I explained. “We’re still seeing if we’re a good fit.”

I introduced them to Tankie and showed them how much he loved to fetch. Then I watched them like hawks. I needn’t have bothered. Tankie was thrilled to share his yard with them. If they weren’t playing ball, he followed those kiddos around as they picked lemons, shot Nerf guns, and wrestled.

Such a good boy

When the youngest patted him on the head, he licked her face.

Tankie had been trained not to go on the furniture. But at one point, he came over to my chair and tried to climb into my lap.

“Tankie!” I said, laughing. “Down!”

My sister snapped a picture and said, “I don’t care what you say, he’s definitely your dog.”

And so he was.


Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

29 thoughts on “Tanked (#368)”

  1. Still mourning the loss two months ago of our rescue girl – we had her for 13 wonderful years. Reading this makes me think that maybe, one day, we’ll be able to bring another good girl/boy into our lives, so thank you!

    1. A dog’s lifespan is downright cruel, but I am so glad you had 13 years! The most I’ve ever gotten was 11 for a big dog. The pain when they’re gone is brutal; I still sniffle over the canine and feline losses. But if you’re not up for all the caretaking that goes into raising a puppy, well, I highly recommend an older dog. Their personalities are set, so you know what you’re getting, and many of them bond very tightly to their new people. On the other hand, I think sometimes humans bond more tightly to the animals they raised from puppy and kitten hood. Whatever you opt to do, I am certain some dog is going to be very, very lucky to have you–some day. Many hugs!

  2. I loved Tank right away. Any dog that works to get adopted deserves a good life! Boss Cat is still the boss. Maybe someday they will be “friends,” sort of anyway.

  3. A friend of mine in England has a bully cross who’s called Chunk (there must be something about the breed that lends itself to names like these). He is absolutely adorable. Brilliant with her son, with her clients (she’s a therapist), and everyone who meets him. He was attacked by a dog off lead once, so is nervous and somewhat reactive until confident other dogs are under control/won’t attack him.

    I love how responsive he is to you and what a clever lady his foster mother was to train him so well. Looking forward to many tales about Tank and you all 🙂

    1. We’ve been reading with sorrow about the bully XL breeds being banned in the UK. So many are just fantastic dogs with irresponsible owners (we have the same problem, cubed). Here, the bully mixes are mostly couch potatoes, but I’ve met a few reactive ones, some who hate kids and all other animals, and some resources guarders. Glad to know Chunk is recovering. Tankie was attacked as well, once, and we’ve learned he’s naturally inclined to be reactive; we stick a ball in his mouth and have him focus on that when walking. We’ve had multiple loose small dogs get free and come after us, plus two bully breeds where the owners didn’t believe in the leash law. It’s maddening.

      1. Yes, it both maddens and upsets my friend. She also was nearly tipped into a deep depression by the law changes. It is so crazy that law makers choose to ignore that the true problem is bad owners…

  4. I love this story. I love Tankie De Jong and how he’s blended right into your family. Boss Cat has put him in his place and he knows it. I’m happy for you that you got another dog, and such a good boy to boot.

  5. I love the Tank’s Bugblatter Beast strategy for dealing with Boss Cat: If I can’t see you, you can’t see me. Good Pupper!

  6. Tankie sounds like he fits in right at home. It’s like he was meant to be all along. I think Boss Cat really looked like The Boss in that photo. She has high standards and won’t settle for less at all Tankie seems like the Good Dog and the fun one, and Boss Cat the more uptight one. You know it’s a good sign when your family loved Tankie at first sight – and sounds like he just wants to have fun. I would get Tankie is the favourite around the house now…not sure if Boss Cat would like that!

      1. That is good to know Tankie and Boss get along. I guess if Tankie slips up, Boss will put him into place… I am sure you will have many more stories to tell of Tankie and Boss

  7. Yup, very true about kids imitating family members. I’m sure you’ve practiced well, your “better” home vocabulary. You could always ask hubby for Chinese curse words and use them.

    You see, because loss of Chinese language, we only understood maybe 20-40% of what parents said at home, depending on the topic. When my mother was in a fury, she did say certain things. We tried repeating the phrases. She told us to shut up….’cause she was swearing in Chinese….MF, sheot, etc., all that. 😀 The Chinese language, depending on dialect does have some colour language.

  8. Oops I posted comment on wrong post. Sorry!

    Re dogs: after covid, alot of the big city animal shelters have become overflowing with donated pets. People discovering cost/too much care for pet.

    1. No worries. I mean, does anyone really read all the comments?! Yeah, California has always had such an issue with stray dogs and it never seems to end. We do what we can.

If you liked this, let the white girl know!