Smart Dog, Dumb Dog

by Curt Kovener curt-line.jpg

In a few weeks the John Grogan based book “Marley & Me” is to be released to theatres.

It is about a newspaper columnist who has an incorrigible yellow Labrador Retriever and writes about the dog’s exploits and refusal to abide by civil house rules.

Huh, imagine that?

I don’t have a Marley, I have a Charley and he could probably teach the late Marley a new trick or two.

Charley likes the dry food we feed him. He also likes eating the cat food, using his nose to flip open the kitchen wastebasket for any available food-like morsel and, if he can get to it, perusing the buffet at the Kitty Litter Cafe.

We talked to our Veterinarian about that problem. The vet said he could get us some powder to put on the cat’s food to make their litter box donations taste bad.

By that does he mean the cats’ tootsie roll poops taste good?

Most of the time if Charley is alone with me in the office or with Miz Mary in the house he stretches out on the floor and sleeps. But he has learned if Miz Mary & I are at home and it is daylight hours it means it is the weekend and he expects to be taken over to the wilderness retreat. It doesn’t matter it is raining, frigid cold or if we have other plans for the day, in his view “if they are both at home they’re going to go to the woods and they better take me with them.”

Sometimes the only way to distract him from his anticipated trip is for me to come out to the office with him and do some work.

When we do go to the wilderness, during warmer weather, he will jump in the lake swim about a bit, then climb our and come running heck bent for leather to one of us, stop abruptly and shake off giving us an unwanted shower. I’m pretty sure I detect a smug chuckle from him after an stern admonition to “stop it”.

I have learned Charley’s code; he has trained me well. Even after taking him out to “do his business”, within 30 minutes after eating supper he is standing next to my recliner with his head on one of my legs politely pushing me with his chest. At first I would tell him to “go lay down” which he did but was soon back at my chair. But I finally was trained that Charley was telling me he had to go out. Usually, this occurs just after I take my shoes off to relax while reading or watching TV. So now that the weather is chilly it requires me to slip on my boots, a heavy coat and either (depending on the weather) earmuffs or grab an umbrella.

And that’s another thing. While Charley loves to swim in the lake and run through the creek, he hates to get rained on. If it is sprinkling or a downpour he walks as close to the house overhang as he can to take care of his business.

Charley can be nosy at the wrong times. And a few weeks ago, I almost killed him. I don’t mean he did something so repulsive and obnoxious that I wanted to kill him. I mean, I almost literally, killed him.

Cousin Stan and his friend Dean were at the wilderness spending the weekend a few weeks back. Our wives went in to Nashville to shop. There was this dead oak tree that more than likely would fall on the barn so the men decided we would take the tree down.

A chain, cable and come-along would provide the proper encouragement to fell the tree away from the barn.

After notching the trunk, Stan and Dean began pulling on the cable as I started the final back cut.

Just as the tree started to topple is when Charley decided to come up to see what was going on. Stan and Dean said they saw everything in slow motion. I saw it at triple speed.

We all were fortunate. Charley especially. He was between limbs and only got a glancing blow from maybe a six-inch limb when the tree came down with a loud crash. But it still was enough to make him let loose with extended yelps—some from pain, some from the loud noise.

Thinking I had just broken my dog’s back I dropped the chainsaw, ran to him and held him to try to calm both of us and to survey any damage.

A small gash to his noggin and a nickel size piece of hide peeled from his right rear leg was all we observed.

He didn’t limp, he didn’t really favor any appendage. He laid down on the front porch (probably to collect his thoughts and figure out what just happened and how…come to think of it, I was doing the same thing.

We kept an eye on his inner lips to make sure they were pink. Any paleness might indicate internal bleeding. And when he decided it was time to relive himself, three grown men watch the dog pee and poop making sure there was no blood.

While Stan and Dean said they wouldn’t tell anyone that they watched, I had no take part in any such vow.

So after a few days of being stoved up, Charley was back to his usual obnoxious self.

Come to think of it, Miz Mary said the same about me.