They’re giving me their sad eyes. But babies, you need to be clean!
It’s one of those things that you don’t realize is happening till it’s a regular occurrence. Actually, if I had to boil most of what my dogs know, it’s happened that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taught Piper to sit, shake, crawl under, halt, and a few other things. I’ve taught Asia to come, stay, retrieve (at least, her frisbee), sit, and shake. But a lot of how they behave is simply based on repetition. So this phrase I’ve been saying for years, “Alright… night, night,” has been one of those repetitive things that has paid off in the long run because when the dogs hear “night, night,” they know what to do. And that’s go back to sleep. It’s awesome, especially at 330am when they scratch on the door ready for breakfast! Other repetitive behaviors and phrases the dogs have picked up on:
1. When I park in the driveway and hit the car door locks, the horn honks and the dogs come running to see me from the back yard.
2. “Let’s eat!” My dogs will sprint towards their food bowls, tails a-waggin’.
3. “Leave it!” They’ll drop whatever they have in their mouth, hopefully.
4. “Well, if it isn’t Piper the dog!” Piper begins to whine and squeal.
5. When I grab their harnesses, they both get excited for a walk.
6. “Rabbit?” Piper (a beagle) goes burzurk.
Just to name a few.
Alright… night, night.
-Out of the Wilderness
Obviously you can guess watching your dog get hit by a car is not something preferable. All the emotions you’d suspect to feel are there. To define the initial reaction, shock. I didn’t even have time for fear beforehand, because even though the pieces were falling in place for the scary incident to happen, it’s true what they say, “You don’t think it will happen to you.” I remember not breathing. I remember the shock. What I didn’t expect was how fast it all happened and how I’d feel minutes, hours, and days later.
A dog park buddy and I were taking his dog and my dogs from a fenced-in dog park to another one close by. His beagle was off the leash and my puppy Asia was as well. They both took off like young dogs do and they ran farther than either of us expected. They crossed a nearby street. When they tried to cross back over, the accident happened. His dog sat in the street, howling. Asia popped up, running around stunned at what just happened. Like a deer that is struck, I thought Asia was in pain and didn’t know how to react. The beagle was injured. The owner scooped her up and carted her away to his car. I haven’t seen them since. I think about that beagle every day and pray she is fine. Once Asia was corralled in, I thoroughly checked her from nose to tail. She didn’t appear to have a scratch on her. Nothing broken. No bleeding. Only startled. She and I both.
Since then, not much has changed. I’ve gone to work. I’ve taken them back to the dog park. Asia is completely fine and I’m wondering if she even remembers the accident at all. I love that dog. Even more now, somehow. And the word hero comes to mind when I think of the people that helped me that day. Immediately after the accident, Asia was running around wildly. She would not come to me but there were people who came out of the dog park to help coax her in. They could have staying inside the fenced-in park and watched, but they came out to help. Even though it’s a small non-newsworthy story, they are heroes to me. In a tiny way, it restores my faith in humanity.
For whatever reason, it wasn’t part of God’s plan for her to suffer an injury that day. Now I feel grateful. Extremely thankful. More connected. Appreciating both of my dogs and the time we spend together. That day I didn’t expect anything major to happen and while I’ll never be glad that it did, I’m thankful for a new perspective. I’m thankful for Asia and Piper. I’m thankful for the connection I have with them. I’m thankful for a revived conversation with God. I don’t know how the other beagle is, but I hope she’s chasing rabbits again soon.
First, I have to throw in that she rolls around on dead snakes, also. Nasty, but fair. On any given neighborhood walk, my beagle Piper undoubtedly finds an animal that has recently passed away and because her sense of smell is better than mine, she finds it long before I do. Here’s what she does: she sniffs it, then backs up and beginning with the side of her face, she dips down and rub in it all the way to her hind legs. Unless, of course, I can halt the behavior in time to avoid a bath later. She’s not unlike a stubborn child but why does she want to make my life more difficult? Well, that’s where the story gets interesting.
[also check out my blog about why dogs curl up in a ball when they sleep]
She’s acting on ancient instincts when she baths herself in the scent of those poor creatures that have bit the dust. The behavior can be linked to the wolf. To hide it’s own scent, the wolf rubs in a dead animal carcass, making it easier to approach it’s prey before the prey realizes what’s happening. The wolf is badass… and hungry no more. Hunting breeds of dogs are more prone to rubbing in dead animals, so that’s why Piper does it. It’s jungle league. My dog automatically knows how to get down and dirty and stalk her prey. I’ve got a badass beagle.
Are we all just hungry like the wolf?
The idea behind this hunting behavior is so similar to human behavior it’s scary. First dates, resumes, job interviews, first impressions, meeting a spouse’s parents, making friends at school, politicians, wanting to be liked… we take on some or a lot of the characteristics of the intended target. We do this to be accepted, to arrive with no drama, to make others believe we’re the person they see in front of them, and someone that should be liked and accepted. It’s about finding common ground, in a way. None is more obvious than “the politician.” When election time comes around, politicians roll around in society so the members of that society will believe the politician is one of their own. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, if you will. The ol’ rope-a-dope.
My dog wants other rabbits to think she’s a rabbit. Or a squirrel. Or a snake. If they accept her, she will take full advantage. The next time you catch yourself modifying your behavior to match the crowd you’re in, you should howl. It’s the way of the wolf. It’s the way of the man.
But I would never roll around on a dead snake, that’s just gross.