In the last few months my life has changed suddenly, dramatically and out of all reckoning.
We got a dog.
And whilst I am a mere dog-virgin, Georgia is an actual ‘dog person’—I don’t mean like a werewolf or, as a gender-sensitive Anglo-saxonist, I should say a ‘wife wolf’, or more accurately 'wifwulf', because, before we met, and for many a year, she had, and had dog-showed labradors.
So to educate me in the way of the dog, Georgia got me a book on understanding them. It was written by a certain Dr Fox ... which, if you think about it, is a bit like a book on bird hunting written by Walter Pidgeon.
As responsible dog owners to be, the dog we got was of course a rescue dog from Second Chance SPCA. Unfortunately for all concerned they had called him ‘Bud’, which we quickly, and on the grounds that they might as well have called him ‘Miller Light’, and once this Bud was ours, changed to Buddy.
Buddy is, Georgia tells me, a Brittany spaniel mix, with a wild and hairy freak-flag of a tail. Indeed we’ve effectively ended up with three pets, two of them hairy: that’s Buddy’s body and his largely independent tail, and one rather wet and slimy, in fact due to certain methods of (according to Dr Fox) showing affection, submission, or maybe just getting salt, this last one, suggests it might have been better to have changed his name to Licky McLickface. Apart from the over-active tongue he really is the perfect dog-shaped dog, he doesn't even bark or (horror of horrors) yelp. Though there was the chair thing. To be precise the 'My Chair Thing'. Georgia the wifwulf did warn me, but innocent fool that I then was, I let him (for certain values of 'let') use my chair and now it's his chair and I’m only allowed to use it once in a while and on special occasions, for example when it’s thundery and he’s under the chair. It’s been stormy quite a bit of late, but in spite of the increased access it gave me to his chair, we tried getting him a Thunder Shirt. The theory of thunder shirts being that firmly wrapping your dog comforts him and it did work for Buddy, sort of, in that it replaced his fear of thunder with fear of the thunder shirt. He went absolutely rigid when we tried it on him and refused to move, or as far as I could tell, breathe till we removed it: and apologised … and plied him with dog treats. Lots of dog treats…
Which reminds me, what goes into, and to an even greater extent what comes out of Buddy is currently the all consuming role of my life: partly because a dog’s life is not worth living if he doesn’t stop now and again to pee on the roses.…or the chrysanthemums, or tulips or the odd cactus… though that WAS only the once.
But mainly there is POOP.
Poop is probably THE central concern of the responsible dog-owner: indeed you can recognise the responsible dog-owner as such when they put their hand in their pocket for a handkerchief, a wallet, keys, in fact almost anything and instead they produce, as by magic, a poop-bag.
Known in the trade as ‘doing their business’, dog business has it’s own etiquette, and I am learning the rules, mainly from Georgia, but also from the amusing signs in every Plano park that tell me is my duty or rather it’s my ‘doody’ (D O O D Y) to pick up after my dog—surprisingly these signs invariably show a cartoon of a dog picking up after itself!! Now there’s a golden opportunity for a really good dog trainer to add to their obedience classes!!
As an aside, I don’t know if you've heard, but, I have a tone of voice, particularly when I'm displeased (and especially when displeased with strangers). It’s polite, but apparently very imperial, and it is capable of reducing almost any American to a state of abject colonialism. Georgia calls it my ‘Queen Voice’, and it can even shame that hard-looking guy with the shaved head and the big pit-bull into suddenly remembering that he actually does have a bag in his pocket, which he will now use.
That appears to be my particular civic doody!
All in all…
There’s no business like dog business,
Like no business I know.
Everything about it is appalling;1
Everything the neighbours will allow!
Where else would you get that awful feeling,
When you are scooping a load of poop
…enough of that! I’ll just close recounting the time Buddy did a second business …um… transaction, just as we were racing for home as a sudden thundery down-pour was suddenly thundering and down pouring and I had to untie the tightly tied poop bag and figure out how to top it up elegantly all the while he was doing his best to drag me home, face down if necessary, along the ground…
Cheerio for now