God of the front yard


Photo By Jason Cassidy

Keeping a high profile is a sure way to get people to remember you, and not many in Chico are as high profile as Zeus. He’s on a corner lot, near a stop sign, across the street from the entrance to parkland. And this is his spot. The 4-year-old yellow Lab/Australian shepherd mix is always there in his weathered, green, molded-plastic chair that barely accommodates him—a somewhat goofy but content and beloved fixture in the neighborhood. Owner Leo Weiss says his otherwise energetic pet’s social disposition combined with his effortless trainability is what makes the front-yard spot workable: “He’ll never leave this yard. He’ll never cross the curb without a command. It took no training.” This is Zeus’ second appearance in a local newspaper (not counting a letter to the editor praising his positive influence), and he even gets fan mail, including a letter left on the front door by a dog named Max: “Dear Zeus: It’s rebarkable, I’ve been thinking about you wondering if my folks are ever going to walk me by your house so we can romp together. … P.S. Bark when you get this. I’ll be listening for it.” With a little help from owner Weiss (and his son and Marsh Junior High student, Jacob), we asked Zeus for the scoop.

Why the front yard?

I like people so much. I’ll sit in this chair, especially when kids go to school. They’ll stop with their cell phones and take photos, and they’ll feed me. They always slow down to say hi to me in the morning. I try to get out there in the morning and in the afternoon when the kids get out of school.

You obviously started sitting here when you were much smaller—why stick with this plastic chair as you’ve gotten bigger?

I like it. I’m up higher. I feel like a person. I’ll lie down on the arm rest. I’m really comfortable there.

What do you do up there?

I’ll sit here for hours, just turn my head and watch people go by, hoping someone will wave at me or call my name.

So you’re pretty popular in the neighborhood?

Yeah, a lot of people walk their dogs by here and they’ll let them go and I’ll just play with them.

What happens when the weather is bad?

I’ll never go in the house. I will not cross the threshold. They walk in there, and I’ll stop right there—never go in.

Anyone else ever sit in your chair?

They’ll bring some chairs out here sometimes and watch the sunset [with me]. I just wanna be in my chair.