Friday, October 26, 2012

The Un-Guard Dogs

Hey there!
Everyone knows about dogs and the mailman, right? The way we are famous for not getting along — you know, visions of dogs chasing the mailman down the street, the man fleeing for his life, scattered letters fluttering in his wake? Well, as I said in”Doggone It”, it’s not always like that.

Okay, here’s the story.

So, in The House That Once Was Mine, where live Wife and our son Handsome, there also now lives Wife’s cousin, JH. When I moved out, Wife and Handsome had the one dog. JH, however, brought two more of her own, for a grand total of three. Evie, Dewey, and Pork-Chop.

Yes. Pork-Chop. Handsome got to name the dog when he was five years old, and he named the beast after his favorite dinner.

If I were the dog, I would be worried. But that’s me.

Anyway, Pork-Chop has always liked barking at me. He’d bark at me when I came home at night (when I still lived there) and once I moved out he’d bark at me when I was leaving, too. It took a while, but I finally got him to not bark at me quite so much. There were times I could put Handsome to bed, read him a story (when he was a little younger) and then go home once he was asleep (or close to it) without that little dog going completely berserk up the hall in Wife’s bedroom like he was trying to wake not only the entire household but those of the surrounding houses as well. Sometimes he would, yes, eventually, allow me to move about the house without barking.

Then JH moved in with the other two dogs… and those days were over.


When I try to leave, the instant I open the front door — not close it, mind you, but open it — bedlam breaks out somewhere in the house as if the Littlest Hounds of Hell have been loosed upon the world. Up the stairs or down the hall come all three dogs like the World’s Least Threatening Wolf-Pack. Pork-Chop and Dewey are brothers, a Poodle-Cairn Terrier mix … picture Toto from The Wizard of Oz, but make him blonde and clone him, giving one of them wiry hair and the other a soft, wool-like covering and you’re pretty close. Give the wiry one (Dewey) a tail that, rather than wagging back and forth in the traditional manner, whips ‘round and ‘round like he’s part helicopter and the other a quite visibly twisted front leg (Pork-Chop has a birth defect) and you’re even closer. Now imagine them being tailed by a portly Papillon who lacks all of the more vicious-looking front teeth but makes up for the loss by having the roundest, softest, most ‘oh-my-god-look-how-cute-I-am-you-simply-must-feed me’ eyes you’ve ever seen, and that would be Evie, bringing up the rear.

Are they threatening? No.

Are they loud? Oh my God yes!

Whenever they hear a sound they cannot immediately identify they just go nuts. Or maybe even when they can identify it, I’m not sure. I do know they don’t stop once they’ve figured out the source of the sound, since they’ll stand there looking right at me, or sometimes Handsome, barking as if there’s a stranger in the house. One thing I have noticed, though, is that they seem to know when you’re trying to be quiet. That’s when they pounce. No, sorry, stampede. Whatever. When you just walk about making noise they seem to be pretty okay with that. It’s when you put something down softly and it makes a thump, or you walk just a little too hard. That’s when they get you. This also, I think, makes them terrible guard dogs.

When I walk in the house I tend to try to get it over with as quickly as possible. I close the front door firmly. I march over to the dinner table and set up my laptop, pulling out the chair roughly, maybe even going so far as to thump it against the wall. I use the bathroom. I open the TV room door and shout a greeting to my son who’s sitting in there playing MineCraft on his own laptop, and sometimes he shouts back. I’m in the house for as long as 15 minutes sometimes before the dogs suddenly explode into noise down there in the basement. They bark, they yap, they bark some more and come boiling up the stairs in a tangle of short, fast-moving limbs and yelping mouths.

I, calmly, step over the child-gate that fences off the dining and living rooms from their doggy depredations and watch them lose their small fuzzy minds on the far side of the gate. I watch them and I tell them just what good guard dogs they really are. For example:

“Hi guys, hi, hi, hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. I’ll pat you when you shut up, you know that? I’ll pat you. I’ll pat you. Just calm down. Calm down. Calm down. Shhh. Shhhhhh. Y’all do realize that I’ve been here for the better part of fifteen minutes, right? I’ve already eaten. I used the bathroom. I even had a wrestling match with Handsome — could have stolen him away, if I was of a mind to. You guys are a little late, you know that?”

The Brothers Dim have wandered away by now, apparently having lost interest in me. The only one still listening is Evie, and she’s not really listening. She’s rolled up onto her back to offer me the chance to scratch her extremely well-rounded belly… and she’s still barking.

I’m definitely a mailman, but guard dogs they ain’t. Not by a long shot.

Talk to you later!

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