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Note: This piece was originally written in 2011, when Jack was still alive.

This is Ember, our 45 pound mixed breed dog with elements of Australian Cattle Dog (a.k.a.
This is Ember.
Our little dog, Ember, is a 14 ½ year old mixed-breed dog. As near as we can figure, she's part Border Collie, part Australian Shepherd and part Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog).

She's an active, street-smart female who has been in our family nearly her entire life. She was rescued from the streets of Shawnee, OK, when she was about six months old.

Ember is intelligent, active and always willing to engage - and argue - over activities. She's also very good at problem-solving, which is directly pertinent to the story you're now reading.

For a little more information about Ember, read The Giving of Thanks (a "Little Woo" Tale) or check out any of the other Woo Tales.


This is Jack, our Alaskan Malamute. He weighs in at 115 pounds.
This is Jack.
Jack is our 8 ½ year old Alaskan Malamute. He, too, is a rescue - he came from our local shelter already several years old, and some behavioral issues / neuroses that we've worked with him to overcome.

He and Ember like to engage in mock battle whenever they are preparing to go out for a walk or for a ride in our Jeep. Always the gentle giant, Jack generally tries hard to keep himself on a level playing field with the little dog. He'll often resort to laying down and playing with her from that position, suffering all the associated indignities as she leaps over him or stands on her hind legs, using her fore legs to hold him down.

Jack is Ember's favorite toy. (Translation of Ember's first reaction to playing with Mr. Jack: "Oh, look! He rolls around and makes loud sounds when I pounce on him or bite his ears & paws! Wheeee!")

Kathi, Ember and Jack at Gull Island in Quincy, MA. We're always looking for new and different places to walk the dogs.
In order to keep these two furry knuckleheads in good health and spirit, my wife Kathi and I take them for walks - usually twice a day, with one walk being longer than the other. When time permits, we'll have the dogs hop into the Jeep and take them to a special place - a park, or pet friendly play area, or the beach (either at the ocean or a nearby pond).

Normally, Ember sits in a seat behind the driver while Jack positions himself with his head between the front driver and passenger seats, enabling both of them to watch the ride and "snuffle" the air as it passes by. Once in a while, Ember leaves her seat and rides in the far back of the vehicle, staring out at the drivers behind us and making faces at them occasionally.

Ember in the rear of our Jeep, catching a whiff of something rotten wafting over from the malamute's direction. Yes, that's Jack's ear in the foreground.
Ember gets a whiff of Malamute gas.
She usually enjoys this, but once in a while there's a slight price to pay: some days, the malamute has gas - and Ember's position in the far-back of the Jeep places her directly in the line of fire.

To her sensitive snuffler, that's not an enviable position. Jack, of course, doesn't care. (Well, if the release of gas is accompanied by any kind of associate sound effect, his head whips around and he gives his butt a curious look, as if to say "Waitaminute - you can talk?!?")

Ember sticks her head out the window to get some fresh air. She suddenly thinks of a way to avoid future 'gas attacks' from Jack...
Ah - Fresh air!
After one particularly notable incident, Ember made her way to the passenger side window to get some fresh air, clear her mind and try to come up with a solution to the question of how she could avoid future indignities. Because she's a bright little dog, it didn't take long before she formulated a plan.

She decided to get herself a new license.

A driver's license.

As near as we could make out, Ember believed that being the driver instead of the passenger would give her the best of all worlds. She would gain possession of a coveted front seat position, avoid being stuck directly in the malamute's "line of fire" and have both a clear view of the road as well as a window all her own.

Ember firmly believes that if she's the driver, she'll have control of the windows as well as a coveted front seat. She studies hard and practices for her learner's permit. She doesn't think that licensing will be an issue.
Ember checks her side mirror before backing up.
She began practicing for her learner's permit immediately, taking the Jeep all over the yard and convincing Kathi to take her to local parking lots to practice any chance she could get.

She's almost ready for her learner's permit.

We expect her to have some degree of difficulty with the written test - but we're really not sure about whether we'd want her to actually get a driver's license. We're concerned that her strong, innate prey drive with regard to small animals (particularly squirrels) would prevent her from being one hundred percent trustworthy on the road by herself. Ember appears to have anticipated our objections, however - she quickly pointed to the Oklahoma driver's license of her friend Smoky, an Alaskan Malamute with a penchant for running down skunks.

Smoky's OK driver license.
Smoky's OK driver license
Jack has been pretty quiet about the whole thing. A bit too quiet, given his propensity to weigh in on anything related to getting out and going for a ride.

It has Kathi and I a little worried that this might all be part of some insidious plot by our slightly neurotic malamute, but - to what end?

Ah, well - in the final analysis, perhaps we should help encourage Ember's pursuit of a driver's license. After all - what could possibly go wrong?

Could this all be part of some master plan by Jack, the Alaskan Malamute?
Why is Jack winking?

Thanks for reading, folks.


Originally posted to GreyHawk on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 05:35 AM PST.

Also republished by PWB Peeps.

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