A happy dog, Biscuit loved chewing on dirty socks, stinky shoes, rattan furniture, and especially white napkins—whether used or not (in Indonesia, we called napkins “tissue” because there, the word “napkin” had a very different meaning). If someone dropped a napkin while eating at the table, it would be in Biscuit’s tummy before it could reach the ground. And more than once, my rambunctious middle child “accidentally” dropped his napkin, followed by squeals of delight by all three kids as they watched the dog swallow it wholesale. She was (and still is) an omnivore--a goat--ready to eat vegetables, fruit, plastic tabs and caps, aluminum foil, and to no one's surprise, dog food. To this day, when we're cooking or eating, she magically levitates from her soft, fluffy sleeping pad and is right near us, underfoot, alert and willing to take handouts (which she rarely gets from me).
Biscuit also enjoyed a Pizza Hut super supreme pizza and a chocolate cake in her early years. I’ve heard chocolate is deadly to dogs, but Biscuit didn’t seem to suffer any harm from it other than a scolding. In fact, Biscuit earned more than a few scoldings and deserved every one of them. She was such a rascal. We dealt with the frustration by giving her silly, ridiculous nicknames like “Stinker,” or “Sneak,” and then laughed. She knew how to sneak around, open doors—sliding doors, latched doors—we had to really think to stay ahead of her.
She was so smart. And it was humiliating to come up with a solution to her naughtiness only to find out she could outsmart our solutions. Besides opening doors and getting around barriers, she learned the following commands: come, speak, sit, dance, down, stay, run, kennel (go to the kennel), pee-pee (she went on command, which was incredibly convenient when traveling), and probably a few others I can’t think of at the moment.
One of Biscuit’s favorite things to do was bolt from the garage door and out the front gate if she sensed the opportunity to escape the yard. When that happened, I’d hear shouting, and then someone came running to wherever I was in the house and tell me that Biscuit had escaped. None of Biscuit’s well-rehearsed commands worked when she was outside the gate…“come” was a foreign language to her. She always waited at the end of the street, and once she saw me emerge from the gate, she’d smile, turn the corner, and run down the next street, begging me to chase her. She waited at the next corner until I appeared, shouting her name and “come” repeatedly, and then took off again. I think she enjoyed watching her "dad" run down the narrow back streets and alleys of northern Bandung wearing nothing more than a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops as Indonesians stared at the crazed white giant flying by them. I'm sure I looked...and sounded...shall we say...undignified, to say the least? Biscuit often made me run for 2 miles before I cornered her.
The first time it happened, I was so spitting mad at her I could hardly stand it. But carrying the cute, cuddly friend in my arms all the way home, I couldn't stay angry at her that first time. By the time I got home, I was chuckling about the whole affair. However, when the event turned into a weekly occurrence that went on for months, my attitude changed. I started boxing her in a small area once home, and wouldn't let her leave that space until the next day (except for when she needed to do her "business"). Even then, I'd come in and feed her, pet her, and have a calm, heart-to-heart talk (after I cooled down). One thing is clear: She never once escaped when I went to the gate. Biscuit wasn’t the only one who got a scolding.
Biscuit continued in her rascally ways until she met a stud named Fay Holden—a grand champion Golden Retriever owned by the chairman of Indonesia’s national Golden Retriever Breeder’s Club. Our dog calmed after those two brief encounters, and even lost her appetite (a miraculous turn of events!) as her abdomen swelled.
Finally the day arrived when Biscuit went into the whelping pen and lay down. In just a few hours, we went from one dog to 12 dogs—11 puppies!
She was an excellent mother, cleaning and feeding her pups like an experienced mother. She ate a ton after giving birth, so she always had plenty of milk. We had to help with the feeding to make sure the small ones had a turn at one of the ten nipples, because the puppies were always nudging one another onto the next milk station. Fortunately, all of the puppies thrived. We couldn’t keep ourselves from holding them, and Biscuit was patient with us through all the excessive handling of her babies.
Early one morning three weeks later, I went downstairs and found that the pups had broken the barrier of the whelping pen and had messed—both #1 and #2—all over the kitchen/dining area. The floor was white ceramic tiles, so the cleanup wasn’t that difficult—just unpleasant. We raised the height of the pen’s barrier, but they were Biscuit's children. Three days later, when all eleven had escaped the higher wall, we knew it was time to move them outside into the back yard—a safe area walled and impossible to escape from...unless one of the kids "accidentally" let them in through the back door.
Every morning, I’d go out to the back porch, clap my hands and shout “puppies,” and eleven Golden Retriever balls of fur came bounding toward me, jumping up on my bare legs (I had learned to wear shorts and sandals). In doggie-gesture, they said, “pick me up, pick me up!” Of course, I did, and tried to give every one of them a turn. They were often muddy and wet, and loved to lick my face and arms, so I always had to take a shower after that morning and evening feeding. But when the dog food clinking against the stainless food bowl sounded, I became a persona non importo (that's made-up Latin).
After caring for these puppies, Biscuit’s rascally days mostly came to an end. She stopped trying to escape from the yard, she didn’t jump on counters to snatch pizzas and chocolate cakes, and she began following the commands both inside as well as outside of the home. But she still inches into the no-go zones of our house, even though she knows better. All I have to do is say, "Biscuit" sharply, and she retreats, her eyes guiltier than a convicted criminal.
Now a little over ten years, she sleeps a lot. We kept one of her puppies, now a 7.5 year-old female named Arwen. We brought back to the States and now lives with my brother's family. But whenever the two animals get together, Biscuit and Arwen become puppies again, wrestling with each other like when Arwen was still Biscuit’s two-month-old baby.
We recognize that Biscuit won’t be with us forever, but what a loss we’ll feel when her days come to and end. I won’t miss cleaning up the dog hair or reminding her of the “no-go” zones (we have to limit the reach of her constantly-shedding coat of hair). But we’ll miss her charming, wanting-to-please personality. Anyone who meets Biscuit can’t help but like her—she’s an incredibly affectionate dog. Again and again, friends and guests say, “Biscuit is my favorite dog away from home.”