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Doctor recommended for optimal cerebral hygiene 

a day in a dog's life

Sunday, February 06, 2005

our family includes two big dogs. golden retrievers, to be exact. (all of us are, in turn, owned by two cats, but that's another story.)

in a failed attempt to keep the big dogs from trashing our back yard, i take them to a nearby park, twice a day every day. it's a couple-acre arrangement, fenced all the way around. and though the signs say leashes are required, it's rare to see a leash on a dog there. the people are pretty unleashed as well.

twice a day, every day, for the last seven months. you get to know the dogs first, and sometimes their owners. i still know more of the dogs' names than their owners' names. i don't know what that says about us all, but it does say something.

hoover is a sharpei-golden retriever cross. it's an unlikely mix, but she is a beautiful dog with an endearing face. her owner, john, is somewhat physically disabled. he has trouble speaking, and is ungainly in his walk, but his mind is as sharp as anyone's. it took awhile to become attuned to his speech patterns, but once i did it became clear that john has a great sense of humor. he calls hoover his babe magnet, for one thing. he's a liberal democrat for another, and has offered up many a gently scolding comment on the current administration.

right now john is recovering from a broken rib, courtesy of his four-legged friend. apparently hoover, usually the most mild mannered of dogs, got it in her head to chase after a golden lab puppy. unfortunately she, john and the leash had not yet parted ways, and john was yanked off his feet. so he is now at his mom's house in bellingham, on the mend.

a 30-something gal with two labs, (one golden one black), visits the park most afternoons. she and the dogs are slightly plump, but very cheerful, and we all get along nicely. one day the gal wore a "culinary arts institute" sweatshirt, and i cleverly asked her if she were a graduate.

"no," she said, "my ex-fiance is. i put him through school, and then he decided to move out."

ah, geez. my casual conversation starter had taken a turn for the awkward. "well," i recovered brightly. "at least you got a sweatshirt out of the deal."

"that's about all i got. he's at our apartment right now moving out his stuff."

oh, damn. the dog poop was really hitting the fan. "i am so sorry," i said. ("you're going to make her cry, right here at the park, idiot," i thought.) "couldn't you have, i don't know, sabotaged his souffle or something?"

"no, it's okay. i'm at the park with my dogs, it's a sunny day, and it's all good."

clearly it was not all good, but as i mentioned, she's a cheerful sort. she kindly let me off the conversational hook that i had firmly set in my rear, and the dogs played on.

another woman, attached to a scottish terrier, comes around semi-regularly. she's a substitute teacher in the seattle public school system, but would like a full-time gig. she'd heard there was a demand for teachers in seattle schools, but instead found there is a surplus of applications for every opening. so she subs, and surfs the net for teacher shortages in other parts of the country.

we talked about the relative merits of las vegas, new orleans, and hilton head, south carolina. i felt eminently qualified to comment as i've visited each town at least once in the last 20 years. quality of life, whether the people are friendly, housing costs. i don't know anything about these subjects as they apply to any of these towns, but i know there's a casino in downtown new orleans. i've lost money there. there are casinos in las vegas too, as it turns out, but you don't have to actually go in any of them. there are no casinos in hilton head, but they have some big damn gators living there. freaking dinosaurs, as a matter of fact.

she got a call this week for an interview in new orleans. they may have gators there, i don't know. but they do have crawfish. lots of crawfish.

(to be continued...)