Cumberland Times-News

Maude McDaniel - Living

May 5, 2012

Rusty takes over with his doggy wisdom

— They say the world is going to the dogs.

If only!

Dogs would not bomb (or drone) everybody else into oblivion — just a little fight here and there to establish the biting order. And taxes would be nothing to fight about - just one milk bone a day contributed to the poorest dog you know. That would make you top dog in my book.

Even more important than taxes are tails. My theory is that humans are always fighting each other because they have no tails. If every human had a tail this would be a different world. Tails are indispensable for testing the wind, so to speak. Beyond that, of course, humans can’t read tails as dogs do. But how hard can it be to learn that a wagging one shows that the wagger is in a friendly mood, but a tail held sharply over the back (except the ones that grow that way) — not so much.

Besides that, dogs who wag their tails on first meeting are telling the truth — they have no intention of fighting. You can never tell about humans, no matter what they’re saying. They can say all the friendliest things in the world, and sign the most peaceable papers together, and then go out and throw bombs at everybody the next morning. When a dog wags his tail, you can trust him.

Of course, you have to make allowances for humans. They are virtually impossible to understand. What’s this about sitting for hours — literally hours — with a large white paper, folded at the middle, in front of your face? Several papers together actually, with black marks on them. Now I happen to know that Mom will use any excuse not to move a muscle, which is why I keep her busy letting me in and out and throwing my Squeaky for me. I do it for her own good. But when I have occasionally, also for her own good, tried to paw down that “paper,” she gets angry at me and that is not good, especially around suppertime.

Worse yet, sometimes she even goes and makes black marks herself on a smaller paper with a little stick. Now I like little sticks when they are called bones, but this is no bone. Mom, this is all really primitive. The big paper, the little paper with the stick — nobody does that any more.

Use your computer, for heaven’s sake.

Mom may have Windows, but I have my Window. I do not know what a dog would do without a Window. It is where I worship the Unknown, and I spend hours a day looking out of it. The view includes the Narrows and, closer yet, a field and several lawns. I get to be present for family activities, like comings and goings, cars driving up the lane, children playing - and everything is so barkable!

Nothing is more exciting than the garbage truck backing up the road and these strangers emerging to dump the contents of large trash cans from all over the neighborhood into it. It’s a ritual I never tire of, and an enduring mystery. Especially when I happen to know that Mom’s trash contains precious riches that I am never allowed to investigate. No matter how hard I try.

Life is unfair.

I do enjoy watching television with Mom occasionally. I like commercials best of all. My absolute favorite is the little dog in the Travelers’ Insurance Red Umbrella one, who constantly worries about the safety of his bone and tries to deal with it by burying it, and then putting it in the safe deposit box, whatever that is. I don’t have that problem myself. Mom has several chairs she calls “upholstered,” and you wouldn’t believe how handy they are for burying things.

Not meaty bones, I’m sorry to say (Mom doesn’t believe in meaty bones), but those milkbones I was talking about. They are very boring at first, and only get more interesting after you forget you have buried them in the back of one of those chairs for a week or two. (Mom tells me that meaty bones are even more interesting after a night or two in an upholstered chair, which is why she never gives me any.)

So life is good, but I do have one little complaint which I despair of solving permanently., and that is, my cold nose. In the winter it is like going around with an ice cube hanging off my face. It is very difficult to doze off that way. All winter I have to sleep with my nose stuck between two pillows, or into a rolled up blanket, which severely limits my options. I have been trying to get the idea across to Mom that a nose mitten would be a handy little accessory, but so far she doesn’t seem to have figured it out.

Oh well, she’s OK, as humans go. And we have managed to reach an agreement about the barking. I get to bark about 10 times and then she tells me to stop and I stop.(Often.) That way I get to look like a diligent dog without tiring myself.

I’m clever that way. Most dogs are.

So stop saying that about the world going to the dogs, as if it were a bad thing.

Instead, pray that it happens.

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears in the Times-News on alternate Sundays.

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