14 March 2021

Truman Wonderdog, famous skunk killer

Truman (Wonderdog) King

October (?) 2004–March 11, 2021

Australian Shepherd mix

Rescued June 2005

Truman Wonderdog, long-time companion of the Winfield (Illinois) Kings, was eased into the canine beyond following a series of recent seizures. Also known as “the comeback kid”—a nickname earned following the 2018 diagnosis of cancer and the late-onset seizures—Truman remained true to his personality to the very end.

His social media presence (Facebook set up and then forgotten by a King family member) gained him significant notoriety when in the space of one week he dispatched a family of skunks, one per day before his “minders” finally took measures to end the spree. The local CVS barely stocked sufficient peroxide for the aftermath(s) and got to know the Kings well. On a positive note, that summer Mr. Wonderdog had admirable highlights in his rich black and brown coat.

Popular among neighborhood children for his smooth coat and patience with children and small dogs, Truman’s differently colored eyes were a predictable conversation starter when meeting new people. His piercing blue right eye became symbolic of his determination, while the rich brown of his left eye spoke of the warmth and faithfulness which his family knew from him.

A tenacious memory and incorrigible prejudice resulted in a few permanent perceived enemies (apart from the skunks, for which he harbored a special loathing). He made snap decisions about people and their animals which, once made, were set for life.

On the bright side though, anyone who had ever spent a night at the King home was Truman’s “family” forever; recognized upon return regardless of how much time passed between stays. Grown family members were accorded special greetings—enthusiastic jumps, whining, and fawning—generally lasting about three minutes. Truman was never more content than when the house was full and every one of his people were in the same room, or at least within view.

Truman’s special “litter-mate,” Pat, was living in the ancestral home when Truman arrived as a rescue dog in June 2005. Their bond was set, evidenced by the professional-quality photos the human took and the extraordinary patience the dog exhibited—no one else was ever allowed to pick up Truman. Others of the King adults have more complicated stories about their Truman; better left to another time, perhaps.

Family, dinner guests, and long-stay house guests all experienced Mr. Wonderdog’s highly developed work ethic. Or rather, as was often observed, “They say the Aussie is a working breed, but Truman is in management.” This was never more evident than at the end of a meal, when casual table conversation was intolerable until the dishes were done to his satisfaction.

“Our dog,” and “the family pet”—but for Truman the alpha in this pack was Karen. She valued a dog greeting her upon her return to the house, and Truman rewarded that to the end. In his last months it was increasingly important for him to be as close to Karen as possible at all times.  He was commonly believed to be able to read her mind; ample evidence bore this out throughout his stay with the family, and (if anything) increased as his energy and health decreased.

Sixteen years is a long life for a dog of Truman’s size. The Kings concur that those years improved ours.

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