Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Dog's Life

Jake is developing an attitude problem. A good attitude. He seems to be acclimating to our surroundings by becoming a country dog. All of a sudden he is demanding that he be included in every outside venture. He has discovered that the screen door does not have a latch and just bangs shut. We left it this way on purpose, as it has a comforting sound that reminds me of my childhood. The banging screen door signifies summertime. At my Grandfather's house on Candlewood Lake the side door had a banging screen, and it is that sound that I remember most, next to the hawks. Anytime Jerry or I leave the house and walk outside, Jake slithers out behind us uninvited. He has always had selective hearing when it comes to discipline. If Jerry speaks, it's Lassie who responds. If I speak, he completely ignores me and continues on his way. It is frustrating and annoying and yet he can be so charming that I always forgive him and forget the constant dissing that is going on. He will sleep on the floor next to my side of the bed, and make me feel like I have a canine bodyguard. All in all, he's a regular good guy, and just wants to be with us. Here, dogs are included in the day to day activities. It is not unusual to see a dog walking alongside his owner down the sidewalk in town, without a leash. They will sit and wait outside whatever store the owner is in, and not bother anyone. Nor will they run away. They are sidewalk savvy, and seem to know the ropes. Dogs seem to enjoy a higher status outside of the city. They are trusted to roam and not disappear. I am not there yet. I don't want to chance our beloved dog not coming home. Riding in the back of a pickup is another skill I have observed from these dogs. I cannot say if Jake would ride without making the leap after a squirrel or something seen outside of the pickup bed. But these country dogs seem to know that jumping out would be detrimental to their health. They just don't. We have not tested this theory, as we do not have a pickup truck. But Jake is taking in all of these aspirations as though he were in training. Where is he getting his information? Are dogs that observant? On Long Island, he seemed to know that the backyard was his domain. Outside of that, it was leash world. Here in upstate New York, our backyard is still his territory, but it is a much larger world that also embraces other wildlife. Our neighbor's dog (Dan-Dave the excavator) has endured a few trips to the vet due to run-ins with a porcupine or two. More than once. Not fun. But it doesn't seem to deter the desire to run and be free. Jake continues to ingest any specie of flying insect, including the bees. That can be painful, but he doesn't stop. He never remembers that the bee will sting if he swallows it. He just keeps gulping and gulping till he gets one. He loves to be outside and now expects to be with us, no matter where we go. He will stay with us and lay down if we stay put for any length of time, but if something catches his eye, off he goes. I guess that is the beauty of dogs, they will forget what happened yesterday and start today with a clean slate. All memories of yesterdays painful consequences are forgotten, and it is a new day. All he asks for is a pat on the head and a kind word. . . and freedom to run. I have to remember that this is a new and exciting experience for the dogs too. I wonder how he'll respond when the alpacas and goats arrive. Friend or foe? We'll see. In the meantime, he's learning the lay of the land, under a watchful eye. Good dog Jake.

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