Ruff! I tell you, it’s ruff, writing a column, especially the part about hitting the computer keyboard in just the right place. I’m proud to say I don’t read, so I have to do it by random, so to speak. (Have you ever heard the old story that if you shut up 20 apes in a room with typewriters, they would eventually turn out Hamlet, jut by typing at random? Well, that’s pretty much how I do it.)

The only reason I keep at it is because Mom always worries about her next column, and I figure I can help her out once in awhile. That’s if I just hit the right key at the right time. I put my best paw forward to help her out, but I do get dog-tired sometimes.

First, I want to set her straight about some of the things she thinks I like. Rubber balls, Mom. In fact, any balls, I do not like balls, not tennis balls, not balls with bells, not dog toy balls - there is no kind of ball that I like. Well, maybe, meatballs.

But, Mom, please, stop carrying on about it. No more of this “I can’t understand it. All dogs love balls. And I bought this one (and this one and this one) especially for you. Look, it has peanut butter inside. Or look, here’s one made of chicken-flavored rubber.” (How they do that I hate to think). Mom, I DO NOT LIKE balls. They have minds of their own and that’s scary. Okay? Give it up already.

Then there’s the constant nagging about my barking. This I do not understand. My bark is noble and resorted to only at the greatest provocation of my doggy honor.. Mom, I do not bark lightly! I am a dog who takes my obligations seriously, and Cat comes around in the yard several times a day. He can’t be just brushed off without a sound.

Neither can that shadow beside the chair when the sun shines in the house at 7 p.m. on a summer day. Neither can the children who visit across the street every so often, and play loudly in the yard, or the garbage men who come by every Wednesday. (Oh, they think they fool me by changing the pickup hour occasionally, but I catch them every time.) I tell you , Mom, I’m devoted to my dogly duties and you would not want me to do anything less than those things that mean being a dog, now, would you? And that includes barking!

Anyway, Mom. If I may ask, why are you allowed to bark and I am not? You know what I mean — it’s a strange human version of barking that you do at the piano. Almost every day, you go there and sit down and the most dog-awful sounds come out of your throat: la, la la, la, la, la,la, la, and me, me, me, me, me, me, me. And every time they get higher and louder and I’d cover my ears, if only I could figure out where they are.

Now, here is something else I do not understand. You know that mouth-opening exercise you call yawning? Why is it that when I yawn, you yawn too? And I hate to admit this, but, too often, when you yawn, I have to yawn. I try not to, but sometimes I have no choice in the matter. It’s really annoying!

Finally, there’s the issue of just what constitutes being a “bad dog.” We appear to have different views on the subject. You do not seem to understand that I do not just, well, to be blunt about it, I do not just pee at random. Nor the other thing, either. No, indeed there are specifically designated times and places for these rituals.

Sometimes I despair of ever teaching humans something every dog knows by instinct. Peeing and so forth are our way of ratifying the world we live in, giving it our approval, so to speak, saying “ okay” to that particular fact of life, like the corner of the wall, or a table leg or, outside, a particularly tall daisy. What’s wrong, I want to know, with saying, in my own doggy way, “Good job, daisy, for being such a fine daisy” ?

Still, I know you and I have a distinct difference of opinion on the ground rules. That is, what to leave on the ground and what to leave in the house. What you do not understand is that the whole point of doggy philosophy in this matter is simply an existential one. For dogs, the main rule for everything is this: If you gotta, you gotta.

My biggest problem with humans is that you are so hard to predict. That’s why I looked well, puzzled, as you described it (my word would have been “concerned”), when you came home the other day and looked around in all the usual places — and then praised me for being a good doggie! I was indeed puzzled by your analysis.

You see, actually, I knew I HAD done something of the type you get so upset about — except it was not in one of the usual places. Apparently you missed seeing it. And that is why I had to immediately go and look, to make sure it was still there, behind the green chair. (It was.)

I don’t know why you think that is so funny.

A dog has to do what a dog has to do.

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

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