Mooch was a sweet dog, but he was big (a blond German shepherd) and wickedly playful. Despite being well-fed, he had a hunger for table food. He would sit and whimper and flash those sad puppy eyes at you until you let him have some food. Cleaning plates of left-overs meant letting him lick them clean before washing them. His mooching wasn’t confined to the family; he trained the mailman to share his sandwich.
He loved to trap people in their own cars. Every time they attempted to open a door he would charge at it barking gleefully at them. When they attempted to escape out the other door, he would charge around to the other side to block their escape. Visitors to our house were often terrified by his game which he would only quit when called off by a family member. Somehow he managed to carry out this game after losing part of a back leg to a haymower. He was chasing a rabbit at the time.
In contrast to his boldness with strangers, the big dog had one weakness – thunderstorms. One good clap of thunder and he could be found hiding under a bed whimpering! Like all imaginative children, I barked back at my dogs (Mooch was one of two dogs on the farm). Mooch must have seen this as an opportunity to teach me something useful as he would most often bark a certain way and then quit after I had mastered the bark.
One day while visiting a friend, my daughter and I went for a walk. We met a small snarling dog that frightened my daughter. Yelling at the dog seemed to have no effect, so I reached for the loudest dog bark I knew. I have no idea “what” I was saying. The little dog stopped growling and backed away from us, apparently not wanting to tangle with a much bigger dog.