Monday, August 10, 2009
Being a dog is hard work
You may not know this, but being a dog is strenuous, tough work. At least according to my dogs, it is.
This was most apparent today when the Dynamic Duo sought to stop an invasion of epic proportions. I cannot tell you for sure the exact details of the invasion or who/what exactly Celeste and Mina were fighting against, but it was big news.
It started out pleasantly enough. I was reading inside, curled up in a nice big armchair. Celeste took issue with something outdoors and proceeded to slip out the Mina-made doggie door* to investigate. Mina thought about following, considered Celeste's penchant for staring at walls intently and decided against it.
A moment of blessed silence passed. It really was peaceful and nice and calm. Stuff I like when I'm reading. Then the call. BARK!WOOF!THEWORLDISENDING!BACKUPNEEDED! Celeste rarely barks but when she does, it's embarrassing. She sounds like a miniature poodle on helium. She's a 45lb dog, she should at least sound like one.
Anyway, Mina is now in Terrier Mode, which involves ignoring silly things like tables, sofas, doors, and stairs. I'm surprised she made it out to the backyard in one piece. For a nearly 11-yr-old dog, she is pretty agile. Mina runs full force in the direction of Celeste's whiny call. She looks glorious, the brief glimpse I catch of her racing across the yard. All taut muscles, happy grin and full of purpose. My smile lasts the same amount of time it takes Mina to race to Celeste's position and begin a round of deep-chested barking.
Sighing heavily, I drag myself out into the backyard and towards the commotion. I call for Celeste who appears around the corner with a very concerned look on her face. Mom, she says, there is Something Very Worrisome over here, please help! Mina soon follows with that stupid smile on her face. Minion! Celeste is a total loser who barks at nothing, but I have barked at something, so rest assured, the perimeter is secured. She trots past me without another glance, certain she has achieved a major victory in the War on Something. I follow Celeste to the scene and find, well, nothing. No neighbors hauling garbage bins, no rats trying to steal tomatoes, no pretty gopher snakes looking for rats trying to steal tomatoes, no mutant squirrels bent on world destruction or feral cats, just dirt and a fence. But with me by her side, Celeste is confident, comfortable and pretty sure the world is a much safer place with her, Mina and me in it, patrolling the territory.
I hear a snort and snuffle and there is Mina again, wondering why we persist in investigating a Mina-Inspected zone. She looks at us, at the dirt, back at us, sniffs the fence, glares at us, sighs in that special way, and waits. I can't help but love Mina and Celeste in this moment, these two canine beings with their canine senses so different than my own. They live in a world of myriad scents and different sounds. Their language is so different. Yet they find a way to talk to me, to communicate. I probably screw up the message, but thankfully, dogs are pretty good at forgiving.
We head back in, our strange little pack. I give them water and praise (that they hopefully do not associate with barking), scratch behind soft ears and make sure they know that, even if they are Very Bad Dogs, I love them very much. I go back to reading my book. This time with the glass door closed.
*A long time ago, Mina ran full force into my parents' screen door, carving out a Mina-sized hole in the corner. It has remained since.