Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Liam Johnson on various things canine

Interviewed by William A. Johnson

[Liam is a 9+year-old lab-shepherd mix with three legs. In spite of his disability, Liam is just like other dogs in that he plays, runs, barks, begs for his food, and sleeps. He has experienced a lot in his lifetime and has agreed to talk about some of his experiences and lend us his insights. My questions are in italics.]

Tell us about growing up.
    This isn’t going on Facebook is it?

I don’t know.
    Just so I get a say in where it goes….Well, after I was born it was ruff. We were abandoned at an animal shelter in Boone, North Carolina. My siblings and my mom left one by one, leaving me all alone in a small sheltered dog run for what seemed like forever. Every time someone came by to look at me I was hopeful, but nothing came of it. Looking back on it, it was a sad and scary time. One day a volunteer came to the shelter and spent snuggling time with me and apparently told her mom all about me. When her step-dad and her mom came to see me – “lying in my manger,” as she tells it – it was all they could do but adopt me! It was the happiest day of my life!!!!!!!!!!!!
    As a result of this experience, for some reason, I developed empathy for people, especially children. Every time I see children I want to greet them and lick their hands. I think they like me too.

So what happened next?
    Well, I settled in with my new parents. To top it off I instantly had new friends right in our house: our big dog named Lily and 2 cats Misty and Zac! Such a deal!
    After a while I noticed my right front leg was different from other dogs because it was all tiny and folded up like a bird wing. I tried to heal it by myself, but just made it worse. It was so bad my parents and I sat down and discussed my options. We concluded amputation was the best route to take. After the amputation everything eventually went back to normal. I chewed on shoes, ate tissues when I could get away with it, and occasionally peed inside the house. (I was still pretty young, you know.)

What is it like being a dog?
    Are you seriously asking that question?

Okay, how about: What are the similarities and differences between humans and dogs?
    Okay, now there’s a good question. Humans need lots of training – dogs not so much. They also require constant attention. We have to teach them how to stand up, let us outside, and feed us at a certain time. Early in their training they are inconsistent, but, over time, they come around. It’s a wonder people who don’t have dogs can function at all. Dogs can usually get humans to do just about anything.

For example?
    If I want them to get their exercise, I just go to the door and they usually get up and let me out. It’s not a lot of exercise at one time but it builds up over the day. Or we can teach them to feed us human food when we are hanging out at the dinner table.

Do you have any pet peeves?
    You seriously didn’t ask that – enough with the puns already! So, yes, I have peeves.

  • I have a lot of names. For example, Big Boy, Buddy, The Boy, Buster Guy, Stinker Dog, and Baby. There are more. No wonder I’m confused at times. I’m not sure if they’re talking to me or not. I do know how to get them to say “Liam” – I just start to chew on a shoe. Choose a name and stick with it!
  • Don’t watch me when I poop – it’s embarrassing.
  • Let me sniff more often. It’s one of the things I’m really good at.
  • Don’t blame me for everything that goes wrong. I know it’s convenient, but seriously – everything?
  • Take me to the dog park more.
  • If you must dress me in costume, at least don't show anyone. [Sorry about this, Liam:]
These are just a few. If we do another interview, I’ll tell you more.

In closing, what advice do you offer others?
    Your standard dog wisdom, of course:

  • Things are always more complex than they appear.
  • Trust your nose.
  • Keep close to the ground.
  • Bark as a last resort.
  • Don’t play fetch unless you are a retriever.
  • Treat your food dish carefully and lick it often.
  • After six months, pretend to chew on shoes but don’t really.
  • Snuggle with someone every chance you get.
Our readers might want to ask you questions from time to time – would you try to answer them?

Well, thanks for your time and agreeing to do the interview. I hope we can do it again sometime.

[Once we completed the interview, Liam, as is his custom, fell asleep for a few hours. Every once in a while he lay on his back, feet up and ears back just as if he could hear his mom and dad saying, “Look at him!”]

Copyright © 2015 by Liam Johnson & William A. Johnson


  1. Bill & Liam, this is a delightful piece! The opening photo of your conversing (were you doing the interview?) shows how intimately you talk; it is most endearing.
        One question for Liam that occurs to me is whether you, Liam, have particular friends that you hope to play with when you go to the dog park? And do you have friends in your neighborhood? I think that you and Siegfried have seen each other from a distance, but I don't think you and he have been given the opportunity to sniff each other and communicate in other doggie ways. (I hope you don't hate the term "doggie" as much as I do!)

    1. Moristotle,
      Thanks for the input. I meet new friends at the dog park. Sometimes I've met them before. I can tell if I've met them before by sniffing.
      I have seen Siegfried from a distance. I would wave but I might fall over. I know I've wagged my tail.

  2. Excellent, and put me right there inside Liam. So good. Thanks for the creative sharing.