Monday, December 09, 2013

The Terror's Day Out

The Terror has become a fixture at the local off-leash dog park. Inexplicably, she is very popular with both the dogs and the people. One of her friends is Nibs, a pit bull who could be an advertisement for the breed, fun-loving and rambunctious but with the mouth of a bird dog - Nibs could carry an egg home without breaking it.

Then Pliny, named after the scholar when you first ask (the Elder). But if you ask again, he is really named after the beer. After all, it turns out, Pliny the Elder was one of the first to explore the science of hops. Anyway, The Terror's friend Pliny is a blue weimaraner who explores the science of puppy wrassling to an exhausting degree, which is very good, because a tired Terror is a good Terror. Then there is an exuberant Labradoodle who leaps all up, around, on top, and over the Terror like the Bolshoi Ballet on four legs (without the backstabbing). Then there is a border collie whose name we don't know; she excels in running the Terror ragged.

The goal of the trips to the dog park, which is on the way to the feed mill, is that the Terror sleeps all or most of the rest of the day. Many times the other dog parkers are surprised by the Terror's zeal for adventure; her usual tactic is to run pell-mell up to the biggest dog and start licking its chin and offering to race it anywhere, or to wrassle it, straight up, no point spread requested, she doesn't care how big it is, the bigger the better.

On account of almost always being the smallest dog at the party, the Terror has excellent dog manners. If anything ever looks dicy, she rolls over on her back and stays there. Almost all dogs respect this, it is universal dog language. All right, they will say, but cut it out. Maybe they are old and arthritic, and don't want to chase a Terror around. So they give a warning, the Terror rolls over, and they say " all right. But buzz off." And the Terror buzzes.

Practically every dog knows not to attack a puppy. Practically.

The other day The Terror was at the dog park and a big black dog was standing on the edge of the playfield. There was something about this dog: it didn't respond to any of the dogs that came near it. Even a dog that growls, you can trust - at least it's telling you something. This dog had no reaction to any kind of overture, and several of the older dogs that came near it moved quickly away. The dogs knew something. The farmer moved close to the dog, about ten feet away, making a mental note to keep an eye on it. But being weak-minded, the farmer soon started chatting with one of the other dog parkers about chanterelles.

Just in the nick of too late, the farmer looked up to see the Terror barreling up to the big black dog, where she crouched underneath it, tail wagging madly, to lick its chin. In one fluid motion without warning or preamble it picked her up by the neck, flipped her high into the air, then pinned her to the ground when she came down, snarling in deadly earnest. The Terror, a tough girl who never cries, was crying hysterically. The farmer surprised the black dog by booting it sideways at the hips, then grabbed the Terror as the black dog's owner simultaneously arrived to pull it away.

People rushed up to see if the Terror was okay. Being a puppy, and made of rubber, she was no worse for wear, except for a dribble of blood under her ear. Her snappy new nineteen dollar padded jacket had suffered a puncture wound, though. The farmer tucked her under an arm, like a football, and started to leave.

The black dog's owner offered an explanation to the people who were now clustered around him:
"He doesn't like it when dogs come up to him."

Several people looked at him grimly, nodding: that was plain to see.

Nobody asked the obvious question, because you always think of the obvious question later, when you are halfway home: why is he at the off-leash park if he doesn't like dogs?

A goat that doesn't understand goat society - usually a  pampered bottle baby, or sometimes just a goat from Oregon -  is a menace to itself. On the other hand a dog that doesn't understand dogginess, a dog that doesn't speak the universal dog language, is a menace to society. That is what the farmer explained long-windedly to the Terror as they drove home, not noticing that the Terror was fast asleep, and planning to sleep the rest of the day.

"So in conclusion," the farmer wrapped up, "I hope this has been a valuable lesson to you. In future just stay away from any dogs who do not have dog manners."

The Terror snored gently.