If we’re visiting someone’s home, and I suddenly experience a sensation of humid warmth, and I look down and see that my right arm has disappeared up to the elbow inside the mouth of a dog the size of a medium horse, I am not alarmed. I know that this is simply how a large, friendly dog says: “Greetings! You have a pleasing salty taste!”
I respond by telling the dog that he is a GOOD BOY and pounding him with hearty blows, blows that would flatten a cat like a hairy pancake, but which only make the dog like me more. He likes me so much that he goes and gets his Special Toy. This is something that used to be a recognizable object √≥ a stuffed animal, a basketball, a Federal Express driver √≥ but has long since been converted, through countless hours of hard work on the dog’s part, into a random wad of filth held together by 73 gallons of congealed dog spit.
“GIVE ME THAT!” I shout, grabbing an end of the Special Toy. This pleases the dog: It confirms his belief that his Special Toy is the most desirable item in the universe, more desirable even than the corpse of a squirrel. For several seconds we fight for this prize, the dog whipping his head side to side like a crazed windshield wiper. Finally I yank the Special Toy free and hold it triumphantly aloft. The dog watches it with laser-beam concentration, his entire body vibrating with excitement, waiting for me to throw it … waiting … waiting … until finally I cock my arm, and, with a quick motion I … fake a throw. I’m still holding the Special Toy. But WHOOOSH the dog has launched himself across the room, an unguided pursuit missile, reaching a velocity of 75 miles per hour before WHAM he slams headfirst into the wall at the far end of the room. This stimulates the M&M-size clump of nerve cells that serves as a dog’s brain to form a thought: The Special Toy is not here! WHERE IS THE SPECIAL TOY??
The dog whirls, sees the toy in my hand and races back across the room. Just as he reaches me, I cock my arm and … fake another throw. WHOOOSH! WHAM! I can keep faking throws until the dog has punched a dog-shaped hole completely through the far wall, and the dog will STILL sprint back to me, sincerely believing that THIS time, I’m going to throw the toy. This is one reason that I love dogs.
December 20, 2004 6:46 AM