January 30, 2006


E-Mail and Pee-Mail

Now that I'm a dlogger and sometimes get e-mail, I've been thinking about it in relation to pee-mail. I've noticed there are both similarities and differences.

1) They're both better when they come in trickles. If you're getting too much of either from somebody, it's likely they're just showing off and trying to pretend they own the whole neighborhood.

2) In the morning, there's always fresh pee-mail, but at least it doesn't hit you all in the face at once like morning e-mail.

3) You can pick up viruses from both, but dogs aren't beastly enough to send you viruses on purpose, unlike some species we might name.

4) In measured amounts, pee-mail is actually good for the environment and can be used as a fertilizer. E-mail, of course, you just have to throw away. Oddly enough, some companies seem to want to keep your old e-mail and root around in it. In my neighborhood, we call them DDDs, for dumpster-diving dogs.

5) You end up getting the same pee-mails over and over again, just like e-mails. (It's good to stay in touch!)

6) Pee-mailing is healthier. You get more exercise and never fill up on spam.

7) You need less equipment with pee-mail, but the equipment that you need is more important.

8) Pee-mailing makes you thirstier.

9) A lot of e-mail stinks but doesn't smell. Most pee-mail, in my experience, smells but doesn't stink. But I'm not counting cat pee-mail, which is another matter altogether!

10) You ever notice how humans seem to wind up doing almost everything via machines? I'm just glad those robot dogs haven't really caught on. I shudder to think what kind of pee-mail we'd get from them.

January 24, 2006


Out of the Blue

Some dogs, I've noticed, hold little regard for the sky. Planes go by and they take no notice. A heron soars and they remain blase. Even human objects thrown - sticks, tennis balls, floppy discs - are regarded with almost cat-like disdain by these aerially challenged canines.

Well, I have my flaws, but a nonchalance for the denizens of the great above is not among them. From the time I was a pup, I've been a watcher of airplanes and blimps and those terrifying helicopter things flying low over the rooftops. I often stop and stare and wonder.

Maybe it comes of being a born bird dog. But I also think it's been honed by my experiences. I remember walking off-leash down the sidewalk with Molly one balmy morning, just taking in the neighborhood, when - WHAM! - a squirrel smashed into the sidewalk not eight feet in front of us. Now, I'm usually a great fan of squirrel chasing, but this was unexpected and rather appalling. I mean, that squirrel must have fallen 25 feet out of the top of a palm tree! It just lay there, its tail over its body, unmoving. I looked at Molly and she me, neither of us quite knowing what to do. I approached it slowly with Molly saying, "Are you sure that's a good idea?" I took that as a note of caution but not objection. I reached out my muzzle and gave it a hesitant sniff.

I suppose a wild dog would have jumped on his advantage, making a snack of the wounded prey right there. But we househounds are a tad less decisive. Just then, my nose still in his tail fur, the squirrel suddenly popped back into consciousness, wobbled over to a tree trunk and began to climb in a zigzagging, dazed fashion.

Maybe squirrels have more than one life, just like cats. Got to admit, I've felt a little more respect for those lithe, chattering, scattering beasties since then. Still, I wonder about what kind of taste would have gone with that smell. I'll always remember the roadkill not taken.

And just the other day, we had another close encounter of the squirrelly kind. Again, I was with Molly walking down sidewalk when, SPLAT, a half-eaten orange dropped right smack in front of us. The weird thing is, there wasn't an orange tree in sight. It seems some squirrel had hauled the fruit up an oak tree, had breakfast, and then decided to bombard us with the remains.

Was he aiming for us? Just trying to scare us? Perhaps. Or maybe it was the same squirrel as before, trying to share his breakfast in gratitude for the fact I didn't jump on his clumsy butt the time he plummeted to the sidewalk. I don't know, and unless he starts blogging I'm unlikely to find out. But this I do know: it pays to look up. Cause you just never, ever know what kind of nutty stuff might drop in out of the blue.

January 21, 2006


The Flight of the Alter Ego

They say every dog has its day. Well, in my case, that day is usually a beach day. At such times, I am transformed. I go from "Hank the Simple and Schlumpy" to "Hank the Buff Beach Lab," sea water glistening on my golden coat as I bound over the sand like some non-silicon-enhanced, interspecies member of Baywatch. No longer the poor little Shoeshine Boy of the Sunshine State, I become not bird nor plane nor even frog, but a whole lot more like Underdog.

At the beach, I tread with vigilance and determination. I engage in the sort of heroic acrobatics at which my recumbent house dog alter ego would wince. I am faster than a speeding floppy disc, more powerful than a local mastiff, able to leap medium-height beach chairs in a single bound.

Afterwards, of course, I slip quietly back into my normal routine: that of a quiet, slightly sore, exceedingly ordinary Canis familiaris. There is safety in such alter egos. But I'm comforted to know that at some point Hank the Buff will be called upon again. Because every dog has its day.

January 17, 2006


Your Inner Goof

We all have our moments of goofiness. The thing is, humans try to play down those moments. Labradors, on the other hand, relish them.

Mike and Molly are always pointing out my goofiness. There's the goofy way I walk around the kitchen even while munching my dry food, spilling it along the linoleum as I go. (See, I just don't want to miss any action, so I like eating while keeping my eyes on my human packmates when possible.) Or there's the goofy butt tucking I've dlogged about before, or the goofy way I like to rub my back while walking under the dining room table during meals. (See, the table's just the right height, and I like to watch the alarm of inexperienced dinner guests who think they're experiencing a Florida earthquake as the whole table lifts and shifts).

Then, there's the goofy way I sometimes run through the water, especially when cranes, herons and any of those other insufferably elegant wading fowl are out there voguing about. And there's the goofiness of a giant lab rolling and lolling on his back in the wee morning hours so that half-asleep humans will rub my belly and drum his chest.

The list could, of course, go on, but my point is this: I've noticed that humans secretly adore it even if sometimes giving us a hard time about it. They don't want to seem goofy around one another (unless there's wine involved), but there's a love for humans on TV who act goofy. My guess is that every human has an inner goof dying to break out. In fact, my theory is that we dogs often help them free their inner goofs when they're alone with us in our living rooms or the back yards. Ever see the goofy expressions humans use on their canines, or the utterly goofy language they use? ("Haaankkeeee," mocks Molly, pretending the stuffed squirrel can speak and making it dance along the floor in an effort to get me to chase it. Goof rating? Four and a half biscuits, I'd give it.)

I adore humans when they get goofy. I'm just sorry they can't be goofy more often on their own. It's quite liberating, if not always pretty. For example, I've seen Mike dance. It's sight I wouldn't miss, but even I feel a tad embarassed for him. It makes my butt tucking look like a ballet, and it's just as dangerous to bystanders. And goofy? My goodness, yes. Give him five out five dog biscuits, with maybe a Scooby snack thrown in as a bonus. If there were a Westminster Human Show and judges were looking for goofiness, then Mike's dancing would certainly win them over. And I would be there, so very happy for him, telling him what a good, good goofy boy he is. My very own Best in Show goofy goofy boy.

January 14, 2006


Our Higgledy Piggledy World

It's a higgledy piggledy world out there, neither safe for man nor beast. The other day I got mugged in the park - or chomped, rather. Right in the snout.

It was a little humilitating, actually. I wound up running back to Molly with a bloody nose, like a little kid on the playground after getting roughed up by bullies. I thought I was old enough to avoid such nonsense but I guess not. Still not sure how it happened. There were a lot of unfamiliar dogs squirming around, some of them trying to be all that. My back was up just a bit, perhaps, but not bristling. Yes, my legs were stiff as poles and my tail stood out like a slantwise rod. But I wasn't trying to seriously dominate, just hold my ground and lend a little order to the chaotic, commingling mess of cheek lickers and buttocks sniffers.

Well, somebody wasn't buying my status. Or maybe they just got scared. What I really remember was a quick turn and snap.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just getting old. Maybe I would have stayed and held my ground in a dogfight when I was four or five. But I decided discretion was the better part of valor and moved on. Heck, what's the point of trying to play the hero amid such rabble?

Better just to turn my bowed and bloody head to Molly, letting her voice her high-pitched concerns as she treats my wounds. Even at eight years old, it's good to have a den mother to care for you. The playground of pugnacious hounds can wait. Sometimes it pays just to sleep off a bad social experience on the couch in the afternoon sunshine and dream of a world where you're forever the top dog, the strong, fast-witted and never-challenged king canine who always somehow manages to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat.

PS - I'm not blaming any of the dogs in the posted picture. These four were around in the park that day but the photo is just to give you an idea of how we dogs like to mix it up.

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