Monday, June 23, 2008

He needs salt

My husband got up this morning, pulled on shorts, shirt and sandals, and left the house to take Hershey and Wimzie, our dogs, on their morning walk around the neighborhood. He's met and befriended people all over the place (they're out early watering the flowers) so the three of them are usually gone about twenty minutes or so while the dogs do their business and my husband trades good mornings with the gardening and coffee-on-the-front-porch-with-the-newspaper crowd.

I was in my room getting dressed and watching the news and weather on television when I suddenly heard Hershey, a silly black dog who is part beagle, part Sheltie (a Beltie, my friend Cato called him) start barking. Since he has that touch of beagle blood, his bark is a dramatic, drawn out sort of yodeling; if he were a human, he'd be an operatic tenor, but not a very good one.

"BAAAROOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Hershey yodeled in the distance. "BAARROOOO!!!!! BORK! BORK! BORK! BARROO-OOO-OOOOOO!!!!"

I winced, mindful of the neighbors who might possibly still be sleeping at 6:47 on a cool summer's morning, being rudely yanked from a sound sleep by the ululations of an excited dog who has just seen a cat. Or a squirrel. Or possibly a little piece of cottonwood fluff borne along by the mild breeze.


"'Yipe'?" I thought. The borking and barooo-ing ceased and all was quiet until I heard two sets of paws and one set of human feet mounting the stairs. The dogs burst into the room, Wimzie trotting bossily, Hershey prancing. My husband followed, looking like a man who would rather get back into bed.

"What was going on out there?" I asked. "I heard Hershey going crazy halfway down the street."

"Oh, he saw a squirrel," my husband replied wearily, taking a pair of Dockers on a hanger out of his side of the closet.

Hershey, hearing his name mentioned, came over and gazed up at me hopefully as I sat on the bed applying makeup, hinting broadly for an invitation to jump up and snuggle. It is sometimes difficult to want to snuggle with him, since he is forty-five pounds of solid muscle, yet feels compelled to climb into my lap and lick off my blush with long, loving swipes of his stinky wet tongue. "Why did he yelp?"

"Winzie bit him."

"She bit him? Why'd she do that?"

My husband took a pair of dark socks out of his dresser drawer. "He wouldn't shut up with the barking, and apparently it was getting on her nerves. Plus, he was standing still trying to intimidate the squirrel, who couldn't have cared less, and Wimzie wanted to move on. So she growled at him, and when he wouldn't pay attention to her, she bit him on the side of the neck."

Wimzie has never taken any crap from Hershey. It's well known around here that she only barely tolerates him; he's bigger and stronger than she is, but he's never learned to open doors or tip over wastebaskets or drink out of people's glasses without tipping them over when they unwisely leave them unattended on a sofa table. He is, in her opinion, useless, and she usually refers to him as "that frigging loser you saddled me with."

Wimzie has been known to reprimand him as a mother dog disciplines her pups, and one time -- a time that I shudder to think about -- she nearly decapitated him when he snuck up behind her and attempted to assert his macho authority by making a few ill-advised hunches in the vicinity of her hindquarters. That never happened again. For a while, I was even nervous to walk up behind her.

"Just your humble servant here, old girl," I would say in a bright, false voice that betrayed my jangled nerves. "Erm, can I get you anything? A fresh dish of water? A Snaussage? A front row ticket to a cage fighting title match?"

Twenty minutes later, Wimzie accompanied me in the van to drive my husband to work, cheerfully bouncing out to sit on her favorite seat, where she lurks behind the tinted glass, waiting to launch a volley of fierce barks at any possible cows she may see along the way. Horses, sheep, goats and other dogs don't bother her, but cows....She seems to think that cows are unnatural creatures that conceal realms of untold menace for Jack Russell terriers inside their plodding bodies.

I was careful to maintain a steady pace throughout the drive so that she wouldn't become annoyed and try to urge me along by a sudden bite to the neck. You have to keep your eye on Wimzie.

No comments: