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Canines – and I ain’t talkin’ teeth

So I went to visit a friend of mine to give her a little gift for her sister in hospital.  I don’t visit this friend very often, or even at all, because they have a long haired dog, a golden retriever, and I’m allergic.  But the need was great, her sister was very ill, and I thought I could certainly tolerate 10 or 15 minutes there.

I pushed the doorbell on their backyard gate, and who should come bounding out the door to greet me but that golden horse-sized dog they call Titan.  The shock wave caused by his barking nearly knocked me off my feet, but I squatted down on my haunches and began an animated conversation with him of the “who’s a good boy?” “such a pretty puppy” variety.  Titan abruptly stopped barking, cocked his head to one side and looked for all the world as if he were saying, “Wait here for a second, would ya?  I’ll be right back.”  He disappeared into the house and returned, this time with a ball in his mouth and a curious look in his eye.

“Well human?” he seemed to be saying.  “What do you think?  Are you a play-ah?”  He put the ball down and stared up at me from his side of the gate.  “Here’s how this works.  You throw this round bouncy thing, and I’ll chase it and bring it back to you, whereupon you will throw the aforementioned round bouncy thing again, and we’ll repeat the process until it’s too dark to play anymore.  Savvy?”

Well, I did savvy, but just then my friend appeared and I followed her into the house, Titan at my heels,  ball still in mouth.  I carried on my conversation with my friend in spite of Titan’s repeated slapping of my legs with that baseball bat of a tail of his, until he finally gave up, withdrew to his spot on the floor and flopped himself down with a disgruntled huff dislodging the ball which he followed across the floor with sad, disappointed eyes.

A few days later, I paid a condolence call to my friend on the death of her sister.  Titan looked up from his basket, barked at me once and disappeared into the next room.  When he came back, he had a chew toy in his mouth which he presented at my feet.

“OK, human, clearly you weren’t ready for the round bouncy thing.  This here, see here? human, are you looking? right, this thing here is called a toy – toy-eee.  See?  The principle is the same – you throw said toy-eee and I will retrieve said toy-eee.  Come on, human!  Even a cat could do this!  I mean, it wouldn’t, but it could.  And you’re more intelligent than a cat, no?”

When I kept talking to my friend, and sadly ignoring the dog, he started banging my thighs with his head.

“Human, I swear to God, if you don’t look down at me, right now, there will be consequences!  Consequences that will make you say, ‘Bad dog!  Very bad dog!’  Do you want that human?  Do you?”

It was time to go.  I gave my friend a hug, and turned to leave.  Whining ensued.

“I was kidding, human!  There won’t be any consequences.  Sheesh!  Can’t you take a joke?  I’m a good boy!  Really!  I just want you to throw the damn toy!  Where are you going?  Come back!”

When I go back, and I will go back, I’ll throw the ball or the toy just to show Titan what a good human I can be.

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