By Tony Deyal
Checking my Yahoo Mail and seeing “Dogs don’t know their names” in an article on “What It’s Like to Be A Dog”, I thought about the dog named “Willy”. I don’t know how the dog would respond, but if my Catholic teacher, Brother Jerome, had asked me why I had not done my homework I would have found it impossible to explain that my Willy ate my homework. Or the time when the owners of the dog named Sex were in a custody battle for their pet. When the husband told the Judge he had Sex before he was married, the Judge smiled, “Me too!”
The phrase “man’s best friend” originated in the American Supreme Court in 1870 when a lawyer defended a man who deeply loved his dog named “Old Drum”. The lawyer argued that when a neighbour beat Old Drum to death for trespassing, he had taken more than just a pet – he killed an important family member. The lawyer stressed, “The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can his in this selfish word – the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous – is his dog.” Mark Twain echoed this: “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
Names are secondary to the ability of dogs to talk or answer questions. When a farmer put up a sign that he was selling his talking dog for five dollars, the first person who turned up doubted this was a real talking dog. The farmer told the sceptic to ask the dog anything. The man looked at the dog and said, “Ok doggie. Tell me about yourself.” The dog started, “Well when I was a young pup, I always wanted to serve my country. So as soon as I could, I enlisted with the airport authority as a sniffer dog. I was really good at my job too…” The man was stunned. He interrupted the dog and said to the farmer, “Wow! The dog really talks! Why are you selling him so cheaply?” The farmer replied, “Because, much as I like him, this darn dog is a bad liar. He’s never done anything he boasts about!” To which the dog responded, “Don’t listen to him. There are no bad dogs, only bad owners.”
There are also cricket dogs. A man went into a bar in Barbados and bet the patrons that his dog could talk. “What’s on top of a house?” he asked. “Roof! Roof!’, the dog answered. The people in the bar laughed. “What’s on the outside of a tree?” the man inquired. “Bark, Bark” the dog replied. The audience started demanding their money claiming the dog was a fraud. “Who’s the greatest batsman in West Indies history?” the worried dog owner begged. “Chris! Chris!” growled the dog. The Bajan bar patrons did not only take the man’s money but threw him and the dog out of the bar. Disconsolately, the dog turned to the man and with tears in his eyes explained, “I wanted to say ‘Garry! Garry!’ but I was afraid they would think I was going to bite them.”
While we never had talking dogs, we’ve had several whose barks were worse than their bites unless it was a plate of Purina Dog Chow. What we and some of the experts found out is that dogs keep us from being lonely; they create some stress and anxiety but generally and over the long term they reduce those pressures on us; in many ways, they help us to get along with other people unless it is those who are into fireworks for every occasion, or those politicians who won’t deal with the issue; and, as my wife says about her dogs, they keep us healthier because with them around we are less lonely, stressed or anxious. Even though I quip, “Speak for yourself. I am allergic to pompeks”, she’s right. Through the ages, dogs have been seen as the closest and best companions which serve the widest range of supporting roles: protector, helper, lifesaver and companions.
A few years ago, Time Magazine listed the health benefits of living with a dog. These include a longer life span, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a decrease in allergies and asthma in children. While Time pointed out that dogs are the ones who seem to understand us on a level even we cannot fathom, the health benefits from them are only applicable if the dog is well-exercised and cared for. If not, you have to cross your dog with a calculator. That would be the only way you will have a canine friend you can count on.
Of course, if a man boasts that his best friend is his dog, the dog has a serious problem. Unless it is like the owner who crowed to his neighbour, “My dog is so smart that every morning he waits for the newspaper boy and, instead of biting him, he takes the paper from him and brings it straight into the kitchen for me to read.” The neighbour, also a dog lover, answered, “I know.” Mystified the man asked, “How?” The neighbour replied, “My dog told me.”
The oldest of our two dogs, Mitzi, at 17, is both deaf and blind. When I look at her, I think of the story about the man who entered a country store and saw a sign saying, “Beware of the Dog.” He looked around cautiously but all he could see was a tiny dog darting madly from one corner to the other. The man laughingly asked the owner, “Is that the dog people are supposed to beware of?” “Yes,” the owner replied. “He sure doesn’t look dangerous to me,” observed the man. “Why did you put up the sign?” The owner explained, “I had to.
People keep tripping over him. ” In Mitzi’s case, she is a trip in her own right and when she moves around chasing her tail I have an explanation for anyone who asks why, “She knows how poor we are so she wants to make sure that while she’s around we can always make both ends meet.”
* Tony Deyal was last seen in the dog-breeding business. His crossing of a Pekinese with a Lhasa Apso resulted in an abstract dog (a Peekaso), and a Terrier and Bulldog in an ugly-looking mutt (a Terribull), but he cannot find an acceptable name for his cross between a Bull Terrier and a Shih Tzu.