Dogs sure do like to pee on stuff.
That was the life-changing realization I came up with this past week when I had to babysit my neighbor’s dog while he went on a trip. Actually, I wasn’t the first choice. My other neighbors are usually the go-to dog-watchers on our block, but since they also had a vacation planned, the assignment landed on my doorstep. In the canine-watching world, I’m kind of like a version of baseball’s middle relief pitcher. Not good enough to start but hopefully I can keep the animal alive long enough to bring in a closer to finish up the game.
I agreed to the job when I was asked several weeks ago, but deep down, I really don’t think I’m ready for that kind of responsibility. My wife doesn’t like for me to run the oven when she’s not around. I’m not even 50 years old yet, so you can understand my trepidation.
The assignment involved me feeding and watering and playing with the dog, a young Yellow Lab named Teal. Another part of the job deals with me taking her outside for several walks a day so she can ... well ... go pee. When I’m really lucky, she does other stuff too.
Let me tell you a little about Teal. She is basically still just a pup and probably one of the friendliest, most energetic creatures that you will ever meet. She has a tremendous pedigree as a duck and goose hunting dog, and she is extremely well-mannered for her master. She walks nicely beside him, comes when called and even sits on command. For me, not so much.
Whenever I watch over her, all of that training goes out the window. She just wants to run, chew on stuff and drool all over her favorite toy as you play tug-o-war with her, trying to not get your hand bit in the process. And getting a collar and leash on her ever-darting, yellow-furred neck is next to impossible.
And her jumping ability ... This particular animal has a vertical leap that rivals Michael Jordan. I am approximately 6 feet tall, (give or take an inch depending on how any given day has tread upon me.) This dog will leap straight in the air until she is at eye level with me, for no apparent reason other than for the fact that she can. It’s like she has pogo stick legs.
My biggest fear is that as I take her out to do her tinkling, she will somehow break free of the leash, and there will be absolutely no way that I can catch her. She’ll be like Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape” cruising across Germany on that motorcycle. The only way to catch her will be with a really big barbed wire fence and some Nazis.
And another thing, I know that it’s just a dog being a dog in laying claim to its territory, but I really don’t see the need to urinate a little bit every five feet. It just seems a little silly.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about things as I’ve stood there this week watching things come out of that dog’s body. At first, I truly believed that maybe this dog just wasn’t too bright. But as the days wore on, I realized who the intelligent one out of our relationship really was. She had me feeding and watering her. She had me risking the health and well being of my fingers, so we could play with her toy. Not to mention the fact that I was a witness to all of her bodily functions over the past few days while I didn’t make her watch me even once. This dog might be a genius.
So now when we play fetch, and I make her sit before she fetches her black rubber toy, (the only command that I can ever get her to listen to), I look at her with a whole new understanding. As she cocks her head to the left, flicking her right ear, panting and gazing at me with those big brown eyes, I realize that she thinks I’m an idiot. It only took me a week to figure that out.
You can learn a lot from a dog. I think that I’m going to start living my life a little more like Teal. I’m going to work on not taking things so seriously and living for the moment. That seems like a pretty good idea.
But first things first, I need to drink a liter or two of Mountain Dew. I’ve got some territory to lay claim to.
You can contact Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.