'Fire when ready' a motto this Gridely takes to heart

Pausing with pets

January 22, 1992|By Ellen Hawks

WITH COMPANY, this canine character is funny and cute. Without it, he is a destructive terror.

Gridley II, a year-old miniature schnauzer owned by Vivian and Chuck Claypool, skips when he runs and is the tail-wagging self-appointed public relations director of the neighborhood. He sits in his yard greeting everyone, and he jumps at the chance for a ride on his owners' 36-foot power boat docked near their home in Severna Park.

But, his family groans, the minute they go out and leave him alone, he tears up the house.

''He has shredded the bottom of the kitchen door . . . When we left him in the basement, he shredded the carpeting and he also soils in the house. Since he came to us last September, I suppose you could call him the $100 a week dog,'' says Mrs. Claypool, who can still smile as she sums up the destruction. Neither of them want to put the little dog in a crate when they go out.

The couple has owned two schnauzers named Gridley, but this tTC one lives up to his namesake, according to Mr. Claypool, who recounts the story of naming him.

''In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, Charles Vernon Gridley was the first officer on the flagship Olympia when his commander, George Dewey, gave him the now famous command 'You may fire when ready Gridley.' Gridley obeyed and proceeded to sink the entire Spanish fleet during the Battle of Manila,'' he says.

When Gridley II fires, no one is ready. But, in other ways, his positive personality is a real winner. He takes himself very seriously. When he greets neighbors or visitors or poses for a photographer, he takes a sturdy, balanced stance with his little feet wide apart and gazes intently at them.

If he didn't have four feet, he'd resemble a kid at play because he skips on his left hind foot as he runs along. Those who don't know him think his foot hurts. Not so.

The couple has owned three miniature schnauzers, the first, Ralph, lived nine years. Then came Gridley, who lived to age 13. He had none of the destructive tendencies of Gridley II. The name just appeals to Mr. Claypool, who is, incidentally, an Army man.

Gridley died after a long crippling time with arthritis. ''Chuck lifted him, carried him in and out and became his legs when he couldn't walk at all," Mrs. Claypool remembers. "And, when he died, Chuck was so affected by the loss, he suffered with his own legs for a time. He couldn't bend down.''

Mr. Claypool shrugs it off as ''probably sympathy. I kept thinking of what it would be like for someone to lose all use of the legs. For me it would mean I couldn't work and I couldn't play drums.'' He works for the Alban Tractor Co. Inc., selling the earth-moving Caterpillar tractor. For more than 20 years, he has played drums with the Tired Business Men, a band of professional business men who are currently playing on the first and third Tuesday evening of every month at the Millrace Tavern on W. Franklintown Road.

If Mr. Claypool's legs are hurting now, it is from cleaning up after Gridley II when he is left alone. There is hope, however. They have put up a gate across a quiet, warm corner of the basement, and it recently contained Gridley II until his owners came home and took him up to his bed in their room.

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