I wish I knew what goes on in Gimpy's mind. When the dogs start from anywhere in the house to go outside, they have to pass between the dining area and the kitchen, go into the den, then turn left to go out the door onto the patio. Three of the four do it just that way. Gimpy, however, skips that first left turn, runs straight ahead to pass between the futon and the cedar chest, steps up twelve inches onto the hearth, then turns left, steps down, passes by the large dog crate and turns right, ready to burst out the door. He doesn't choose this crazy path always, but he does the majority of the time.
Here, I drew this floor plan of my (overcrowded) den for those of you who prefer pictures to words:
He also has his own convoluted route to get back inside from the backyard:
I"m pretty sure I know the reasoning behind his chosen path in this instance: anole lizards hang out on the patio furniture. They're only there in warm weather, but Gimpy does it this way in winter, too, just in case. (Sometimes he shortcuts under the table.)
(Speaking of convoluted, those little squares placed in odd positions near the round patio table in the second drawing represent chairs positioned just where we like 'em. I like to sit in one chair and prop my feet in another one, symmetry be hanged! We don't arrange them nicely unless company is coming.)
Gimpy's eating habits are peculiar, too. We separate the four dogs at feeding time because Lucy is greedy, doesn't take time to chew, and doesn't mind eating out of someone else's bowl. She and her bowl get locked in the hall behind a gate until Levi and Oliver are finished. Gimpy eats in the crate with the door closed. The gist of the long story behind that is that before we got him, he shared a home with his Golden Retriever father, who intimidated him and wouldn't let him eat. He was getting skinny. Here, closed in the crate, he can feel safe that no one will interfere with him during his dinner. That worked fine for a long time, but he's been taking things a step further recently. Now, when I put him and his bowl in the crate, he faces away from the bowl, lies down and waits. Only when the three other dogs have all cleaned their bowls and have gathered around his crate does he stand up and begin to eat. He does it very slowly, as if he's relishing every bite, and he glances up now and then to make sure the other dogs are still watching him. I'm pretty sure that if he could talk, he'd be saying, "NA-NA-na-NA-na-na."
I love Gimpy. He's funny, the most clownish of the four dogs, and the cuddliest, most affectionate, too. He gives far more chin licks and tail wags than the others do. He also happens to be the most jealous: if one of the other dogs is getting hugs or skritches, it's only a matter of seconds before Gimpy shows up and squirms into the middle of the action. It's sweet and funny when it happens, but we all know jealousy isn't a particularly good trait. He's sneaky, too. If I tell Levi to stop licking or scratching, Levi stops it. If I tell Gimpy the same thing, he gives me a dirty look, then gets up and goes around the corner where I can't see him.
I love him even more for his weirdness.