Can a dog be mentally ill? I don’t know, but I can say that there was a dog in our neighborhood that would have made a great clinical study. The dog belonged to the Locatelli family and thus was given the unfortunate name of “Locky”. I will herein attempt to walk through a study of Locky’s symptoms and subsequent diagnosis by a crack team of 10 year olds.
Locky was a brownish cocker spaniel that, even though he belonged to the Locatelli’s, did not spend much time there as far as we could tell. He seemed to be always lurking nearby and out of sight, appearing at the most inopportune moments. The singular peculiarity about this dog was that he always, and I mean always, had a rock in his mouth. The purpose of this rock was to provide entertainment for said dog. Locky would drop the rock at your feet and look up forlornly until you picked it up and tossed it, so that he could chase it and bring it back to you.
I know what you’re saying, “So what? Give the dog a break! He was just playing with you.” That is where you would be mistaken. Locky was relentless. No matter how far you threw the rock, he would always find it and bring it back, dropping it at your feet. If you simply walked away, he would follow you until you stopped, and then drop it at your feet again, much like the Terminator. A memorable quote from that movie comes to mind
“Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”
So we would come up with increasingly devilish ways to fake Locky out. We’d find pitchers from the high school baseball team to throw the rock, still Locky returned. Throwing the rock in the creek was equally useless. Same for throwing the rock over the creek. One time we threw the rock over the barbed wire fence into the Karg’s Mill storage lot, nearly clocking an employee in the head. About 30 minutes later, Locky came back and dropped the rock. The most exasperating part of the whole throw-fetch-throw-fetch thing was that it seemed to always happen when we were engaged in some activity, like baseball. Nothing worse than watching for some high inside chin music and a rock gets dropped on your foot.
One thing that we always wondered. Was it the same rock each time? Could it be that, if we did indeed put the rock where no dog has gone before, Locky would give up and go home? Or could it be that he frequently gave up and just went and found a different rock? This was never proven, as the rock always looked pretty much the same each time. Maybe he had a cache of rocks hidden somewhere, each one carefully chosen to be a reasonable facsimile of the original source rock. I dunno.
I do think we can learn something from Locky. Focus! Put down that racin’ form and pay attention! Single-mindedness of purpose is not a bad thing. Each one of us wants to leave a legacy. That’s one of the reasons we build buildings, have kids, and buy gravestones.