We got up early, and even though it is a Friday, Mom stayed home. After a mortifying and confusing couple of minutes with some really uncomfortable hats and a camera, Mom rewarded us by bringing us to the woods. Now that we’re 3, Bodie and I feel that we are old enough to move out and become independent dogs. So when Mom let us off leash, we wasted no time in striking out on our own. In the time it took her to clip the loose end of the leash around her waist, we had taken off, run miles away, moved into our own apartment, gotten a job, and gotten too busy with our own lives to come when called. Mom wandered through the woods all alone for minutes and minutes, calling our names over and over and getting no response, just like billions mothers of adult children all over the world throughout history.
Finally we came back to “check on her,” (meaning, ‘see if she had any treats’ – in humans I think this is called “asking Mom for money”) and just like mothers have done throughout history, she used that influence to tie us to her so that we couldn’t get away again. So we didn’t get to spend as much time off leash on the Best Day Ever as we had planned.
We saw way more furry and fleshy Friends on a weekday than we’ve seen on Saturday mornings all winter. Almost every single one of them was offleash, which really didn’t seem fair given that it was our birthday and not theirs. First we came around a corner and saw a big, white shepherd mix which promptly lay down in the middle of the trail when he saw us. Mom also stopped, weighing up the situation. Bodie and I also weighed up the situation, decided that this shyster was not to be trusted, and started shouting warnings at him. Presently, his people came running around the corner and he lazily got to his feet. Mom shouted, “Your dog is much better behaved than mine…” to which Bodie and I took umbrage and started going ballistic. “You’re making us look bad! You jerk face! Chicken! Why don’t you come over here and say nothing to my face, huh?!” “What’s that stupid bandana around your neck? You think that just because you wear a tie to work you’re better than us?!” Meanwhile we were making mean gestures at him and dragging Mom down the trail. Mom, for her part, was standing like a surfer trying to stay upright and looking desperately at the dirt wall to our left, and steep drop-off to our right for somewhere to escape. Finally, the sanctimonious jerk ran by with his people, and we continued down the hill. “That was fun!” I told Mom, grinning.
Next we met another German Shepherd, this time with a hiking human. When they saw us coming, the dog stopped walking, then human slowly lumbered up to him and grabbed his collar. This guy wasn’t as judgy as the other shepherd mix, so we politely sniffed his crotch and moved on.
The next Shepherd we met was with a family. They had a retractable leash, but the dog wasn’t using it. It took awhile for the family to get the dog back on leash, and Mom stopped and waited. We did not like having to yield right of way, especially on our birthday, so we gave our most vicious outpouring of vitriol to this delinquent. We shouted things that aren’t fit to share on this family-friendly group and Bodie got within inches of his face as she told him exactly what she thought of him and his dumb family. “And don’t come back!” I shouted over my shoulder at him, long after we had passed him by.
Lastly, we met a lab. He too was off leash, and had a really good looking stick in his mouth. Sticks are the best kind of fun, and so I could understand if he was going to get grouchy at us. His person took a long time to get him on leash, and so yet again we had to sit and size up the situation before passing on the narrow trail. The past 2 times that we had had to stop and wait for the situation to get under control, Bodie and I had needed to teach the other dog a thing or two. This time, we ignored the silly lab and his beautiful stick while Mom and the man chatted for a little while (which I think is the human way of sniffing each other’s crotches).
Mom says she doesn’t understand why we can be so cool in some situations, while being in exactly the same situation with a different dog will throw us into a rage. I told her that I didn’t understand either why sometimes she can pick up the phone and be really nice to someone, and sometimes she flies into a rage. German Shepherds are just the Comcast customer service representatives of the dog world. What can I say?
-Oscar the Birthday Boy