Dogs Who Lie Like Logs
Dogs are not honest, pure, or even simple. Among animal species, they possess a unique and intimate knowledge of humanity. And humanity is not honest, pure, or simple. I fear we’ve taught them some bad habits. Yet sometimes, it is those very habits that make them so dear to us. These silly animals engender real empathy in our hearts.
As you might imagine, I just got a new dog – Archer. We don’t know what he is or exactly how old he is or where he came from before we met him at the Upland Animal Shelter. He’s house-trained and crate-trained, intelligent and stubborn, and someday he might be quite large. We’ll have to wait and see, which is part of the fun. When I look at him, I feel happy and sad in somewhat equal measure. I love having a dog again, but he reminds me of the dogs I’ve lost, particularly Jordan, my “old man.”
I got Jordan when I was ten-years-old. He was a shaggy, grey mop of matted fur and fleas, but I loved him at first sight. We took him home and cleaned him up, revealing a quite handsome young man under all that curly, bristly hair. He had a standard poodle’s sleek build, but the standard schnauzer’s square face, complete with mustache and beard. We called him a “schnoodle” years before their was any such thing as “designer breeds.” And he was wonderful. Smart and obedient and loyal – and a complete liar.
Shortly after we got Jordan, my brother got a miniature poodle named Benjamin. Ben had issues. As it turned out, my brother wasn’t a dog person. So Jordan was my dog and Benjamin was Jordan’s dog and eventually they both lived with me, which I was content with. From the day Ben came home, Jordan learned one very simple but inviolable rule: You Do NOT Pick on Anything Smaller Than You. Ever. You don’t chase it or attack it or growl at it or eat its food or steal its toys. This worked out quite well and kept harmony in a house of two dogs, two cats, and two guinea pigs. It also forced Jordan to work out some very unique solutions to achieve his goals.
Every evening when the dogs came in before bed, my mother would give them each a Milkbone dog cookie. Jordan would promptly crunch his down, but Ben (who had issues) would take his into the living room, plant it in the middle of the carpet, shovel imaginary dirt over it with his little white nose, back up precisely three steps, lay down, and vigilantly guard it. This might go on for over and hour, with multiple re-positioning and re-burrying of the cookie. All while Jordan looked on and salivated.
One night, Jordan watched this bizarre ritual from a spot near my feet. When Ben finally settled down to his post, Jordan waited a moment, then ran to the door with a tremendous bellow. Not to be left out, Ben also charged the door yapping away, whereupon Jordan swiftly turned, stopped barking, and promptly ate Ben’s now unguarded cookie. My mother and I blinked at this spectacle in consternation and my brother came into the living room to see what the racket was about as Ben’s confused yips trailed off. Ultimately, we decided that if Jordan was really that clever and devious and Benjamin that stupid and gullible, they deserved their outcomes. From that night forward a new ritual was established. Ben never caught on.
So now, when Archer looks at me with those big doe eyes, and gives that little whining harrumph, which he’s really getting down to an art form, I am well immunized because I know dogs lie. Of course, sometimes I still reward him for a very good lie.