Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Embarrassments of Love and War: Part I

I do not have kids (although there is an unconfirmed rumor that I was one a long time ago). What I do have, though, are pets (two dogs and two cats, but this essay is only going to focus on the dogs). They are the nearest I will have to the terrible burden of human offspring. Some people have tried to convince me that having kids is a great idea: “You never know love until you see your child for the first time” and “Your life changes; nothing will be more important to you than your kids.” But frankly, I am too lazy and selfish for those arguments to work. And truth be told, such arguments remind me too much of the “Just jump in! The water’s fine!” prank. In psychology we learn that misery does not love company, rather, misery loves miserable company.

So, in my haste to dodge the progeny bullet, I ended up stepping into dog poop. (I am not just being figurative. I’ve actually stepped barefoot in dog poop. The horror of it was that while I was heaving with disgust, there was a conscious part of me that thought it felt good squishing betwixt my toes.)
The point of this presumably mostly-ignored-by-the-world and long overdue blog entry is NOT to try to argue that dogs are better (or worse) than kids, or to suggest that the trials and tribulations of pet ownership are in any way the same (or different) from child ownership. It is actually just an observation that everyone who has human or canine pets can relate to: Embarrassing moments. (If you are childless and petless, then I feel arrogant envy and pity for your less meaningful life of hair-free and foul-smelling-stain-free clothes.)

As I mentioned, we have two dogs.

Socrates is a dappled short-hair mini-dachshund (maybe not so mini anymore) who has emotional problems but is essentially a lover. By “lover” I mean that he really likes to hump soft looking dogs, cats, raccoons, geese, pillows, and whatever else he can wrap his paws around. Neither the sex nor the size of the objects of his affection seem to matter. Socrates is an equal (and any) opportunity lover. I’ve heard the experts say that this is a dominance behavior. Well, I’ve seen the sparkle in his eye. It doesn’t look like a dominance sparkle to me. In fact, I should just warn everyone: He knows how to charm a smile out of you. Rolling to his side, he will raise a paw in salute, partly covering an eye in coy sweetness. Do not be fooled. He is trying to lure you close enough… close enough. Socrates is love.

Cricket, on the other hand, is a mix of Sheba Inu and Chihuahua (Sheba-huahua). She’s a sassy little blond with a lot of energy (jumping at the door when we get ready to go out; chasing the cats). Cricket has established a threat assessment base on the couch by the front window. Everything and everyone that passes triggers Cricket’s emergency broadcast system. Mail delivery results in an instant crime scene of vicious snarl, puncture, tearing, and bark. The daily chaos of paper on the floor would nauseate a seasoned homicide detective. You would know her by the tuft of hair that sticks up on the back of her neck punk-rocker style. She is a perpetual bad-ass. My little princess, Cricket, is war.

We take our pups to the local dog park where they roam and mingle with the other small dogs. By roam and mingle, I mean of course, hump and fight. If we are not pulling a hip-pivoting Socrates off of a nearly violated vallhund, we are snatching a snarling Cricket away from a terrorized terrier. (FYI: A vallhund looks like a German shepherd corgi mix; I learned this when trying to find a type of dog that would alliterate with “violated.”)

Yes, it’s embarrassing to have to apologize to everyone for our deviant dogs. But by hitting both ends of the continuum, on average, they balance each other out. I can’t imagine life without them.