No Bones About It, Tetherow Is Dog Country

Four-Legged Friends Abound Among Our Membership

By Yoko Minoura

 

Bend was crowned “Dog Town USA” by Dog Fancy magazine in 2012 – and it seems that canines (and their human parents) have decided Tetherow is one of the best neighborhoods in town to call home.

sargeSeveral Tetherow members said their dogs seem to have as many, or possibly more, friends – both two- and four‑legged – among the membership as their human counterparts.

“If I show up in a lot of the places I frequent in Bend and they don’t see Sarge, that’s the first question,” Member Joe Gallagher said of his service dog. “It’s not, ‘Hey Joe, how are you doing?’ It’s ‘Where’s Sarge?’”

Members said their dogs are always conversation starters that encourage their humans to connect, especially for newcomers to Bend.

“If you like dogs and have a dog and live in Tetherow, I feel it’s a good common ground,” explained Member Stephanie Knecht, owner of Maverick, a black pug.

Member Jeff Albaugh, owner of a standard poodle named George, added, “People seem pretty passionate about their dogs here.”

Stephanie Knecht and Maverick

Stephanie said her family adopted Maverick, now 10 years old, when he was just a puppy, in part to help their standard poodle become more comfortable around other dogs.

The gambit worked; Stephanie said Maverick would follow the poodle, Roxy, around and would try to join her in games of fetch, even though his muzzle is too short to allow him to pick up a tennis ball. Maverick’s easygoing nature helped Roxy mellow out, and he would try to keep up with her more athletic pursuits. Roxy passed away in 2014.

Maverick still loves to do something many owners call “pugtona,” after Daytona, in which a pugs runs around and around in circles. He enjoys the snow, because he tends to get overheated easily.

“Pugs are really fun-loving, they like to play,” Stephanie said. “They’re entertaining, they like to entertain you.”

On the other hand, Maverick isn’t really interested in chasing or fetching; his two favorite toys are stuffed animals that he can carry around.

And while he doesn’t always travel with them, when Stephanie and her husband hit the road with their Airstream trailer in tow, he makes a good traveling companion. If they don’t bring Maverick along, he will stick close to his people upon their return.

“He’s good company,” Stephanie said. “He’s just our pal.”

Joe Gallagher and Sarge

At first glance, Sarge may just seem to be a handsome, exceptionally well‑behaved yellow Labrador retriever.

He’s actually a certified service dog trained by the Joys of Living Assistance Dogs, an Oregon nonprofit. It takes two years of training before a dog is ready to be partnered with a disabled person. Now 5, Sarge was matched to Joe, a combat‑disabled Vietnam veteran, three years ago.

When Sarge is “on duty,” he wears a camouflage-patterned vest that identifies him as a service dog and asks that people refrain from petting him, so that he can remain focused on his job. Sarge helps steady Joe as he walks, keeps him calm, and prevents him from becoming overwhelmed or disoriented in crowded or chaotic settings.

And while Sarge never begs for attention – his job is to be virtually invisible in public settings – he gets plenty.

“He is a social magnet that draws and attracts people. I was pretty reserved, and he’s made me more social,” Joe said. “It’s made me more confident and relaxed in approaching people.”

At home, Sarge can perform a variety of tasks on command; if Joe has fallen, he can stand nearby and brace himself so that Joe can use the dog’s back to help push himself upright. Sarge can close cupboards and drawers left open that may create a tripping hazard, pick up items from the floor (often his toys or collar) and bring them to Joe, and even bring his empty bowl to the sink after his meals so that Joe can clean it. At night, if Joe has a nightmare, Sarge will wake him up and help redirect him.

But perhaps just as important is how the Sarge helps shape Joe’s outlook.

“He’s the happiest dog alive. Every morning, when I open my eyes, he’s already staring at me (and) his tail is flapping back and forth,” Joe said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s a new day. Whatever we’re going to do, it’s the best day of our life!’”

Lisa Couey and Bullitt and Stella

According to Lisa, her two golden retrievers, Bullitt and Stella, fit all the breed stereotypes: friendly, energetic, cheerful – and outgoing nearly to a fault.

Before they had an invisible electric fence put up, both dogs could be found at the next‑door neighbor’s house, playing with George, the standard poodle that lives there.

“Bullitt very quickly discovered where the dog food is in the Albaugh’s house,” Lisa said. “Fortunately, Jeff and Frani are very tolerant of it.”

The pair also have another canine friend just down the street – a golden doodle, Cooper, with the Schwartz family – and have even made friends with the FedEx and UPS drivers that deliver packages to the Couey household, who almost invariably bring dog treats.

Some time ago, Stella, now almost 2, had a bad reaction to a rabies vaccination.

“To this day the FedEx guy (says,) ‘Stella, how are you feeling? You feeling OK?’” Lisa said.

Bullitt – named after a Steve McQueen character in a movie of the same name – is also very good around children, especially ones that want to pet him. Almost 6, Lisa said “he’s absolutely the older brother.”

But as much as both dogs enjoy people, the best part of Tetherow might be its abundant wildlife and proximity to the national forest, where they can run off‑leash.

“I wouldn’t be out in the forest by myself as often as I am with them,” Lisa said. “It’s a great bonus of having them – it does get you out more.”

Jeff and Frani Albaugh and George

Although George – the Albaugh’s black standard poodle – is 12 years old, he hardly shows it.

There’s no gray on his muzzle, and he loves to run in the woods, play fetch and play with the golden retrievers next door.

“Every morning it’s, ‘Where’s Bullitt and Stella?’” Frani said. “He’ll sit on the deck and wait for them to come outside.”

Even if he doesn’t get a chance to see his canine buddies, George is very athletic; he always wants a walk or, preferably, a run.

“When he was a young guy, he’d run so hard he’d do somersaults,” Jeff said. “After three days without a walk he starts bouncing off the walls.”

He may have meant that literally; Jeff said that because poodles are lighter-boned than other dogs, they tend to have catlike agility. They are also highly intelligent – which means they can be picky and opinionated. Jeff said he has seen George dig down in his toy basket for the one particular toy he wants at the moment, and he seems to get tired of the same food if he has to eat it too many times in a row.

At the same time, George was never the boss – that was his older half-sister, Gracie.

“She was the alpha, she kind of told him what to do,” Jeff said. “She was the perfectly behaved older sister, and he was the rambunctious younger brother.”

Sadly, Gracie passed away roughly six months ago. George struggled with her loss for a couple months, but seems to be doing much better now.

“They’re happy, they’re sad, they’re guilty, they’re jealous – they have all these human emotions,” Jeff explained. “And they can read you; they can tell when you’re happy or sad or angry.”

“He’s enriched our life,” Frani said.