Yes, he was, as people have inferred, quite a character. He was probably my most free-spirited and mischievious dog I ever had, and the only Shepherd that I raised from a puppy.
And he was really good at getting me into trouble.
Take the time that we lived in New Orleans when I was a college student there. It all began as I walked him down Bourbon Street one summer evening.
Normally Oliver was very well-behaved and he handled himself well in the crowds. He was actually beneficial in that regard, because when the crowds were heavy, I just had to let him have a little lead and he'd get out in front of me. People would look down, see him, and usually move back, creating a pathway through which I could move without spilling my drink. He was also handy in that many of the Bourbon Street dancers would see him and come out of the bars in which they worked to pet him and give him ice cubes or water, thus allowing me to enjoy the view up close and personal for a few minutes without having to buy a ridiculously-priced drink. (Hey, I'm a guy...what do you expect?)
Now after a while, Oliver got to be very well known on Bourbon Street, to the point where if I showed up without him, everyone asked where he was. And as I said, he was well-behaved...usually.
This night in question, however, we were down near the Tropical Isle bar at Bourbon and Orleans. This bar was and is famous for it's signature drink, the Hand Grenade, which is a God-awful concoction of various rums designed only to be more potent then the New Orleans standard pathway to quick intoxication, the Hurricane.
And to promote their Hand Grenade drink, the bar has long had some guy out front dressed up like a huge hand grenade. The costume has gone through a few evolutions over the years but it typically looks like this---->
Oliver was typically a mild-mannered dog, but this night, he took one look at the hand grenade guy--a guy that he's seen countless times before--and barked at it, causing the hand grenade guy to visibly recoil several feet. Well Oliver just decided that he was going to have himself a piece of that, and to that end, he began trying to pull me over towards the seven-foot tall grenade that was starting to back down the street away from him. Naturally I told him "No!" and pulled back on his leash. At this point, he turned to face me and ducked his head, sliding right out of his collar. He was loose.
He looked at me for a second, his eyes conveying a silent "HA!", and then he spun around and went right for the hand grenade guy.
The grenade guy saw Oliver coming and did what any hand grenade with a fear of big, barking, charging dogs would do: He screamed like a schoolgirl and began running up Orleans street, knocking people aside. Oliver, with his prey drive fully engaged, happily chased him, barking and having a great time, all while making no attempt to actually bite him. (He was just enjoying the game with the big, green screaming ball.)
I called him a couple of times, but he wasn't listening to me. And then as I went to follow after him, I found my way blocked by two big New Orleans police officers, something that no one familiar with NOPD wants to have happen to them.
"Is that your dog?" one of them asked, pointing to Oliver, who was now leaping up against a door through which the hand grenade had run and slammed in his face.
And I did what comes natural to any semi-intoxicated New Orleans resident when asked a question by NOPD--I quickly concocted a lie.
"Why, no, Officer. I never saw that dog before in my life. I have no idea whose dog that is."
Both officers gave me a look that told me that they weren't buying it for a second; a look of total amused disdain that caused me to look down and see that I was still holding his leash and empty collar.
"Oh, but I, uh...found this leash on the ground, and, ummm....I was just gonna go find that stray dog and see if I could put this on him and get him out of here."
And of course as I was fumbling with this half-assed excuse, Oliver ran right back, squeezed in between us and sat down in front of me, staring up at his collar.
The officers were actually finding some humor here as I did my best to keep spinning.
"Why, this must belong to the dog," I said as I quickly slipped the collar back over his head. "Yeah, look...he likes it. I'll tell you what--I'll take this dog and I'll find out who he belongs to, and I'll make sure that you don't see him back here tonight!"
The officers just smiled that smile--the kind that makes you wonder if they're laughing at the joke or are about ready to snatch you up and commence to beating.
"I don't want to see either of you again tonight," the one officer said.
Well what could I say, except: "Yes, SIR!" I knew when I was catching a break so Oliver and I got out of Dodge as quick as we could.
We were back the next night, of course. And front then on, I made sure that his collar was properly snug.
Oliver on St. Patrick's Day, following the St. Paddy's Day parade through the French Quarter.