Though Skylar can be shy, she has never been camera shy — which is a good thing because I take so many photos for this column. When it came time for her My Mutt poster, Pet Food Express sent photographer Mark Rogers to my house. Sky warmed up to Mark quickly, and he was amazed at what a little ham she was. Cocking her head on cue and staring into the lens with those hazel green eyes, she was the perfect little Starlet. Turns out, Starlet Sky is just one of the five faces of Skylar Grey.
Whether she’s twirling joyously in the garden or chasing a pinecone up and down a hill of ice plant at Stow Lake, Sky has a silly side. Sometimes Silly Sky gets into mischief, like diving into Stow Lake for an impromptu swim (much to the chagrin of an elderly couple seated on a bench across the way).
My favorite of the five faces — her ears pinned back, eyes as big as a Keane painting, cuddly, loving, and cute as a button. Sweet Sky especially likes our morning time, resting her head on the pillow next to mine, one paw on my chest, staring into my eyes. Then she scoots her way closer until she’s able to wrap her arm around my neck and rest her head under my chin. As I stroke her gently, she takes a deep, contented sigh and purrs almost like a cat.
On a trip to the Russian River with friends when she was just a few months old, Sky jumped right in after her Kong Water Wubba, eagerly bringing it back, ready to go again. She wasn’t too graceful at first, but during our many trips to Crissy Field she morphed into a surfer girl, riding the waves, toy grasped firmly between her teeth.
One day Sky was playing with a herd of Labs when one of the Lab parents decided to throw a log as far as he could. All of the Labs sat on the shore and watched as Sky did a big belly flop into the bay and swam like mad to the log; she wrestled it to shore and dropped it at the man’s feet. “What’s wrong with this picture?” he asked with a mix of shock and surprise. The Lab parents and I looked first at the six very dry “retrievers” lying on the sand and then at the dripping wet, shivering pit bull puppy, and we all laughed.
She’s come a long way, but Skylar can still be a scaredy dog — loud barking, aggressive Chihuahuas, and going to the vet are just a few things she fears. The first time the neighbor’s dog barked at the back fence, Sky jumped a foot in the air, ran inside and leapt into my lap, shaking like a bowl of Jell-O.
Our inaugural trip to the big dog park was a disaster — the loud unison barking sent her to her belly as she tried to squirm back to the car. We had a rough start at the little dog park, too, as snarling pintsized Chihuahuas chased her round and round, until she figured out she could roll on her back and let them climb all over her like Gulliver and the Lilliputians, which she liked quite a bit.
When I left her home alone for the first time, I could hear her plaintively wailing and I had to plug my ears; when I returned she peed on the floor and acted as if I’d left her for days (it was an hour).
After one trip to the vet, she made such a production of future visits that I had to buy a harness to lift her into the office, her feet flailing frantically as if she were running away in midair.
Upon hearing a loud noise in the basement one evening, she started barking at the top of the stairs. “Go ahead, Sky, see what that is,” I said, standing beside her, but instead she went behind my legs, still barking while looking up at me as if to say, “No, you go ahead. I’ll stay up here and keep watch.”
(not to be confused with Scardey Sky)
Cooped up after three days of rain, Scary Sky emerged, bouncing off the walls like Honey Boo Boo on a sugar high. I had to let her out to do her business, but she refused to come back in so I shut the door. A few minutes later I turned on the porch light to see her twirling across the lawn like the Tasmanian devil, her green eyes demonic, covered in mud — and I noticed there was a huge hole in the lawn that was rapidly becoming a lake. Fortunately, Skylar thinks the hose is a game so I was able to spray her off as she ran back and forth like a kid through a sprinkler. Just past midnight, after a good towel drying, she finally came in and passed out. Before I passed out, I said a little prayer: “Dear God, please let there be sunshine tomorrow.”