Years ago we had a pig. After a bath, we’d splash on a little Old Spice and a sprinkle some baby powder on him before giving him the run of the house. His favorite spot would be to curl up on the floor right in front of the television if a football game was on. Go Figure!
He didn’t care much for the sofa and chairs, but he would jump right up onto bed with us whenever we’d allow it. But generally, Hamlet preferred to be on the floor, and liked it better if we’d get down there with him.
Dawgs are different. It should come to no surprise that our dawgs (like everyone else’s) take on a deep and abiding affection for certain furniture pieces whenever allowed in the house. Perhaps they are no different from us in that matter: we all have our favorite chairs. In them, we assume lounging positions that show to the world around us we know how to get comfortable.
Dawgs do the same. If there is a differential, it is in their innocence and uninhibited methods of sprawling unclothed and displaying anatomical features no matter who is in the room with them. I gave up that kind of behavior before leaving college, and a grateful world thinks I did so not a day too soon.
Dawgs are more tolerant than us when it comes to who has been in the chair or sofa just before them. If I had been in a chair earlier, they don’t mind. They usually express no irritation or disgust for any odors or hair I may have left behind. If they should notice at all, they usually act happy about it and sniff around eagerly. They appear as you might if you’d just curled up with a good book. They seem particularly joyful if I’d spilled something.
Lila Bea is a retriever. She can pick up a trail with her nose, but leaves trails behind with the rest of her body. A trail of hair follows her everywhere she goes. Whereas most dawgs tend to shed only with the outbreak of warm weather, Lila Bea is stubbornly generous about it, and does so summer, fall, winter and spring.
Daily, she sheds more hair than I’ve ever had, but maintains a marvelous coat with no holes in it. Whenever I feel envious, I remember that I can buy a hat for less than the cost of a trip to the barber shop. Do they still have barber shops? I haven’t checked around lately, having had no need of one in many years.
Lila Bea is usually fairly well groomed because the other dawg, Sir Benson Zipper Dee Doo Dah, has an obsessive-compulsive disorder about licking anything and everything he can reach with his tongue. I’ve watched a frog snag a fly at some distance away, but Zipper, being about ninety percent tongue, is competition to the frog. He licks furniture, people, other dawgs, the floor, it doesn’t matter. If you placed him in a corner of the room and could keep him there, he’d lick the paint off the walls. I think he licks the moisture out of the air causing house plants to wither.
We can’t leave the grandchildren unattended for too long around Zipper. The children are quite small enough as it is, and he’d lick ’em so much we wouldn’t be able to detect their whereabouts come bath time. That would be a pitiful state of affairs–there wouldn’t be anything left to bathe!
Back when I used to wear a watch, he licked the time off of it leaving its face with only a blank stare. Left with just the band as a bracelet was no real benefit. It had no real ornamental jewelry qualities, so I have no further reason to wear it. I have found over the years that I could be late for an important meeting with or without a watch just the same.
Zipper, a Boston terrier, has short hair but sheds constantly. Why he is not as bald-headed as me is a mystery. And why he always stinks is a mystery, too. It doesn’t seem to bother him. The olfactory senses of a dawg are supposed to be far superior to humans, but he’d just as soon wander into a garbage can if he finds one knocked over just as you might meander about in a candy store.
If he doesn’t seem to have enough external stink, he will conjure some up from within, and never apologizes. This aristocratic behavior is unbecoming of a dawg, but he does it often. Then, he just walks away leaving people to stare at me. Once your reputation is seen in such a light, your place in high society is diminished forever.
His short, stubby fur collects odors similar to those you’d expect to find in the bottom of a very poorly managed refrigerator. He is kinda like an air-wick of stinky, funky essence of kennel where even a polecat would ask for discounts.
So for all these reasons, there is to be no mistaking his recent visit to any chair, bed or sofa in the house. You’d know he had been there even with your eyes closed unless you have a very bad cold.
Brenda has been hinting for awhile that I should give him a bath. She mentioned it daily for weeks. Due to experience, I have to reach a certain spiritual level before I can bathe a pet of any kind. But I’ve been saving up the kind of fortitude and resolve that is required for such a venture for my next visit to the dermatologist or dentist. I would not want to chance weakening my inner strength in face of such prospects just to give a dawg a bath.
In time, Brenda gave in, since I made no move or utterance to suggest I was excited about it. As she ran the bathwater, I was sent to the dungeon of our garage to retrieve a couple of old towels stored there for such purposes as bathing dawgs or spilling something.
Sitting on the side of the tub, Brenda began washing Zipper. He doesn’t care for that sort of thing, and kept trying frantically to get out. Even though my wife was not in the tub, she was soon almost as wet as the dawg.
Our two dawgs have been together all their lives, and any attention given to one of them is also demanded by the other. The retriever must have sensed the terrier’s predicament and felt sorry for him, or else thought a treat of some kind was being dispensed and wanted her fair share; the latter being more likely.
Lila Bea has no fear of water unless it is falling from the sky (or shower nozzle), so she decided to jump into the tub with Zipper without any warning or other hint of her intention. Imagine throwing a fifty pound bag of anything into a tub of water. As the surge crested the lip of the tub soaking most everything in the bathroom, Brenda now had two dawgs to bathe all the while taking first and second prize in the wet T-shirt contest.
Brenda should’ve had on swimwear or a diving suit instead of those thirsty denim trousers. Water makes blue jeans heavy, and there wasn’t a dry stitch in hers. The extra weight was awkward especially sitting on the soapy ledge of the tub, and I almost thought for a moment she was going to join the dawgs in the tub, but she didn’t.
She performed a balancing act that would result in a standing ovation in any circus, all-the-while spitting out some rather caustic language. Swearing and calling on the Deity at the same time must have provided the kind of balance that was called for in this situation, but I’m not sure.
After a pathetic effort to dry the puppies, Brenda had to go fetch dry clothes for herself. The dawgs wandered around the house giving off a slight hint of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. It lingered in Lila’s hair until sometime the next day. Not so with Zipper: within an hour of his bath, he’d managed to take on airs. Instead of shampoo, he smelled like a junior high school gym locker room where costumes are often changed but never washed.
Animal body chemistry has evolved to produce natural aromas for various reasons. But the strength of such pheromones as that dawg seems to be so heavily blessed with makes it a wonder this Boston terrier breed has survived as long as it has. They are sold only as pets, and therein lies their marginal utility. He does no work. He doesn’t pull a sled, or anything useful. He’d be useless on a hunt in open country, and though he has the attitude for it, he’d be little protection in a serious fight due to size.
So what is he good for? His real talent is an innate ability to mark all of our furniture with his distinctive smell. It must be some kind of in-bred territorial thing. Perhaps it serves to keep his competition away. It must be working. Since he came to be with us, I haven’t seen a single other Boston terrier anywhere in the house. It also seems to work for tigers, elephants and horses, as not a single one of those has shown up around here since we got him.
Whenever canvassers come through our neighborhood, I always let them in. I Invite them to have a seat on Zipper’s favorite resting spot. They never stay long. After awhile, either the licking, or the fact that every fiber in the fabric of that mini-sofa and its cover reeks of stinky dawg gets to ’em, and they leave.
They will quickly place their fliers and brochures haphazardly on the coffee table as they rush for the door seeking a breath of fresh air. Weather conditions will not hold them back; they’d rush outside in a downpour. They’d saddle up a tornado and ride it away if necessary.
Though it might not be ranked as a virtue, at least we can count on Zipper to be consistant. He’s in the living room right now making sure everything smells the way he thinks it is supposed to, and I’m here doing the same thing to my journal.