Once you become visible, it’s hard to disappear into the shadows again, but Hank White was doing his level best. His life depended on it. People looked right through you when you were flipping... [+]
During the first few weeks of life, Courage would sit with his back in a corner and watch his family. He didn’t like to participate in a melee or eat with the rest of the pack. He preferred to watch what was going on and then eat what was left. While there was always enough, Courage was quite a loner. It was as if he knew he was plain and tried to act plain. Never trying to divert humans’ focus from the other dogs.
Over the next few weeks, Courage opened up to his family. There was an elder Jack Russell named Roxie, and another Chihuahua named Lucha. The latter was supposed to be sire of the litter, however it was later determined that Courage was not his son. Courage was the son of a Southern Coyote. When the humans found out, they did some research. They found a group of southern coyotes lived in the woods nearby. These coyotes looked like a cross between a fox and a coyote. Smaller in size, one of the younger males got Mollie pregnant and sired the litter of 8. The humans knew they had something special in their pack of little dogs by keeping Courage.
Courage loved his humans and the other members of his pack and, he loved to be loved. He would rather snuggle and ask for a good belly rub before playing with the other dogs. He often snuggled with the others long after they were asleep and had the puppy eye perfected. He was so full of love; it often out shined the dull perception of his looks.
As he grew, he became the biggest dog in the pack. Topping out at 20 pounds, he still liked to stay to himself and sit in his corner to watch everyone during dinner. It was a year before he played with the other dogs or run with them at the dog parks. He liked to jump and would always try to get his form right before jumping high. He would crouch down, get his paws just right and spring up getting his nose as high as he could. Sometimes, his whole body would rise above the top of the 5 foot fence around the yard. The humans felt he would, one day, jump the fence. He never did. Aside from jumping, Courage remained plain, as always. Except for his size, which was the only exceptional thing about him, he was still the only simple one of his siblings and of his new pack. He was not doing some amazing job as the others had gone to do. He had no special job for his humans here, and he was just plain.
One day, everything changed and Courage showed that he was not unexceptional. This day Courage proved he truly loved his family. It started with a bark. It shocked Matriarch the first time she heard Courage’s bark and she stopped walking to regard him with a newfound respect. She loved that bark and felt it useful on the walks. After a scratch behind the ears, they continued their walk. After that, Courage was invited on all walks with Matriarch and they became very close. Courage continued to keep forewarning of strange people and the errant grocery bag floating in the wind. Courage had finally come to his own and had become a part of something that was not so unexceptional.
It was always thought that if someone threatened Matriarch or put her in danger, Mollie would be the one defend her. While that happened, no one would imagine what else happened on that fateful day. It was a fall morning. After the children and Patriarch left for the day, there was only Matriarch and the dogs in the house. Due to the danger, it was custom for Matriarch to see all locks were secure on the front door and all the doors on the house were locked up tight. At the back of the house, there was porch where the washer and dryer were. The porch had an aluminum door. As an additional measure, Patriarch had a traditional back door installed in the kitchen and laundry area. This door had a deadbolt and a knob lock.
Just as Matriarch sat down at the computer, there was a loud crash and breaking glass. Someone broke into the house. She heard the back door unlock and swing open with a loud bang. She jumped up, ran into the bathroom and dialed 911 on her cell phone. Armed with only a wrench, the Intruder was met by Mollie who ran up to him and began biting his shins and ankles. Lucha was barking from the inner doorway. Mollie was flung against the kitchen cabinets, and Lucha turned and ran to the other side of the house where he remained. Roxie, lounging in the good night cages, stood up and barked shrilly. With sirens blaring in the distance, the Intruder, when he flung Mollie, he flung his wrench as well. Looking around, he picked up a knife off a plate on the desk. He made his way to the front of the house to look for Matriarch. Since he didn’t know where she was, he was careful. However, Courage could see Intruder before he entered the living room. Intruder had to cross the the living room to get to the bathroom where Matriarch hid. As Intruder entered the living room, he heard a low rumbling akin to a low flying aircraft. Since and there was an airport nearby, he thought that’s what it was.
Just beside the doorway, there was a solid end table. It was about 2 feet from the wall to allow for the vacuum. The dogs liked to lie there at nap time. This proved to be beneficial for Courage. Courage was afraid of this stranger. The stranger smelled funny. He did not belong here. Anyone who shows up after all that noise was frightening. Courage noticed that scary human make his Mother mad. He also had seen that scary human throw her like a ball. Humans were not supposed to do that. The more Courage thought about this, the angrier he became. In the few seconds it took for Intruder to enter the living room and cross to the bathroom doorway, Courage, for the first time ever, became decisive and brave. He had to save his family. No more sitting in an unexceptional corner, behaving in an unexceptional way. It was time to show the smelly, scary stranger just how exceptional he could be.
Crouching behind the table, as Intruder came closer to the bathroom, Courage began to growl. Low and guttural, it slowly became louder as Intruder came closer. Once he was about 3 feet away, Courage, while growling, positioned his paws just so, and sprang up from behind the table. Courage planted his hind legs on the edge of the table and launched himself at Intruder with a bark that startled the both of them. Not shaken, Courage sailed through the air toward Intruder and right onto his face. Intruder was so shocked to see this dog explode from behind a piece of furniture that he flung the steak knife away and was left defenseless.
The police arrived and the front door burst in. At the same time, Intruder fell back with such force that he hit his head on a police officer’s weapon and knocked himself out. Courage landed on his chest barking. Once Courage realized the Intruder was out cold, he pawed at his face, as if to say, “That’ll teach you.” He looked up at the officers, dropped his tail and scurried back behind the table.
No one ever expected Courage to save the day. Every day after, Courage would greet his humans when they came home or woke up. He would rise up on his hind legs and lift a front paw in the air to say “I love you!” Courage remained unexceptional, but would be exceptional if he could. Fear apparently, was something Courage had overcome. Courage was part of an exceptional litter and had an exceptional job. His job was to be unexceptional, yet brave.