Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Herbivore Whisperer

I have a dog. I am a dog owner. For those of the more PETA oriented view I have a Canine Companion. Now, I have to admit here that I did have a choice in my canine purchasing decision making. I could have gotten one of those dogs of smaller stature and sock tasting constitution. I could have gotten a dog that specializes in snoring and slobbering on the furniture. I could have gotten one of those dogs that knows sign language and can balance your checkbook. But no. I got a Lab.

Owning a Lab is a lot like having a male child that is both hyperactive and addicted to espresso. And unctuous. I don't actually know what unctuous means and I'm too lazy busy to look it up, I just always wanted to use it in a sentence because I'm hoping it'll make me seem incommodious. Yeah. You ever notice how multifarious some people are? Me too. I hate that.

Anyway. So I have this dog, a Lab to be precise. He's a good dog in a black hole of misdirected energy kind of way. He is what is euphemistically referred to as a 'pain In The Posterior' by those folks who specialize in casual dog insults, also known as dog trainers. Is there a college for that profession and if so is there an entrance requirement that all applicants must be the type of person who insists on telling you things you already demonstrably know over and over again at approximately the speed of mange? I know they mean well but telling me my two year old Lab will act like a brain damaged Tree-Kangaroo (they actually exist) until he's two years old causes me to question your grip on sanity. Especially since I just told you he's two years old and acts like a brain damaged Tree-Kangaroo. Also, Tree-Kangaroo.

But back to my dog. He has to be walked or otherwise exercised approximately 7,000 times a day. That's an estimate of course but according to my strictly kept diary that I update religiously 'every once in a great while' it's close enough. So we go on things my wife refers to as 'Walkies'. Walkies are a lot like walks with the added benefit of carrying around a plastic bag to scoop up the odoriferous exhaust system deposits of aforementioned brain damaged Lab. Hopefully without getting any on one's fingers. But, of course, I am repeating myself. All Labs are brain damaged and I don't really have a plastic bag. Just a paper towel which works for poop picking up pretty much like you'd expect. I am also informed by my athletic and well meaning wife that Walkies are good for me as well. Something about Spleen health or something. My mind tends to wander whenever the topic turns to things not related to beer, sports or sleep. Maybe boobies but only after I've had a few beers watching Synchronized  Head Injuries and a good nap. Still, another reason to resent my dog. If not for him I could spend my days ensconced happily on my barcalounger in a blissful alcohol induced haze enjoying the spectacle of dangerous, semi sports related activities being performed by someone else. But no.

He also does the Dance of Joy whenever we get ready for one of our special outings. As soon as he sees me reaching into that box where we keep his leash he starts running around the house like a crazy person, barking and wiggling from nose to wildly gyrating tail. He quivers with whole body excitement like a politician regarding a particularly lovely pile of 'campaign contributions' in a paper bag left in his refrigerator. He grabs the collar while simultaneously trying to convince me to 'Hurry Up!' and drag me to the door. He crowds the door so I can't actually open it and let him out, apparently completely ignorant of the operation of that particular device that he's gone through at least a million times before. I'm convinced that he's convinced the whole things works by magic and if he just believes hard enough it will open in spite of having his nose pressed against it so hard that he's leaving drool smeared teeth marks in the paint. Past experience notwithstanding.

So we go Walkies and Angus...have I mentioned we named him Angus? No? Well we did. Why? For the life of me I can't remember. I think it was Biblical, that whole passage about 'Hearkening unto Angus because he has the Doritos and really needs your guacamole for the big Superbowl party next Sunday'. Maybe not.

Anyway. Angus really likes his walks around the neighborhood. At first I thought it was because he just liked to walk around smelling and pooping and peeing on the neighbor's lawn like you'd expect any brain damaged Lab to enjoy. But I have come to understand that there is a much deeper and possibly slightly unsavory element to his Walkie Joy. He can talk to the herbivores and maybe even believes himself to be one.

It started with horses. My other dogs were frightened by horses. Reasonable since they also scare me. No one in his or her right mind willfully consorts with animals that weigh as much as a Buick and can squish you with a casual arrogance usually only associated with Chicago Aldermen. To a dog they must look like Dogzilla. A gigantic and possibly nefarious dog who is also probably on steroids. I know they do to me but then I'm more than a bit of a wuss so there is that.

But not Angus. He immediately went to the fence and stuck his nose through. To my amazement (and not a little consternation) the horses quickly ambled over and exchanged a series of nose touchings and lickings with my dog that reminded me of strongly of an episode of Doctor Doolittle if Doctor Doolittle was a weird dog instead of an alleged veterinarian on who is clearly on psychotropic drugs. This went on for a few minutes until exasperated that apparently my dog has more friends than I do, I called him away and we went on with our 'fun'.

Until we got to the big open field that someone had mysteriously populated with goats of various sizes and dispositions, few of them pleasant. Again a doggy nose through the fence and again a stream of goats trading disgustingly drippy salivary messages with my dog. I have no idea what they were saying to each other and I'm not really sure I want to know. One hopes none of it was along the lines of "Hey baby, what's your sign?" or "Want to come up and see my etchings?" But the less information on that matter I have the better. A little more jealous concerned now I reigned in my recalcitrant dog and on we went. For exactly a block. Where the cows were.

Now horses I can maybe understand and accept. They're big, strong and to a certain segment of the female population symbolize strength and character. Stuff we husbands tend to display none of. Goats are Meh. The babies are kinda cute the those horns are gnarly knife like and I can so totally respect that. But cows? I was approaching their enclosure with a mixture of disgust and outright fear. "Please, oh please, Oh Please don't let those cows come over and offer bovine love to my dog" I was thinking. Surprisingly I think things like that a lot. Or maybe not so surprising to anyone who has known me longer than five minutes. In any event I was trepidatious and I don't even think that's a real word. Sometimes I invent words. That's how bad the situation was.

But no. Over they came, of both the male and female varieties, with a dancing step that told me my greatest fears were about to be realized. But they didn't stop at nose touching and slobbery communication. Oh no. They gamboled and pranced and generally made Bessie like fools of themselves. Angus was in heifer heaven. He did The Dance of Joy and would have undoubtedly gone off immediately into a life of grazing and cud chewing if I hadn't had a firm grip on his leash. After much tugging (and even a few words my mother would be aghast to learn that I both know and on occasion employ) I managed to drag my dog away from the embarrassing scene. Not without many wistful glances back and at least one attempt to convince me to return. At least that's how I'm interpreting him piddling on my leg no matter what my wife says or how hard she laughed. Really, it wasn't nearly as funny as she seemed to think. But I suppose that's what I get for marrying a philistine. Ok, it may have been a little funny but that's all.

The rest of the Walkie was thankfully uneventful. So long as you regard grasshopper chasing, random leaf pouncing and cat poop eating uneventful and I assure you that after what I experienced I was grateful for the cat poop.

What to make of all that? Well, as near as I can tell Angus either thinks he's a herd animal and in love or he's the canine Herbivore Whisperer, able to converse with all things four legged that exist by eating grass and sticks.

I'm going with the latter. At least then I can fantasize that he's simply gathering an army of evil minions to do his nefarious bidding in a quest for world domination. Considering the alternative that's almost cool. Plus, since I know him and all, maybe he'll save me to be his personal pooper scooper instead of consigning me to the Bermuda grass mines to feed his growing legions. I hate grass stains.

Then again, perhaps I should just stop drinking so much cough syrup.



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