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Monday, April 14, 2008

Canine Matters

We were listening to “Calling All Pets” on the radio Sunday morning, and after the usual call-in questions and answers they played “Border Collie Soliloquy,” by Baxter Black, and we were in stitches. It is so Sarah! Our little Aussie-Border mix (the dog named Sheela on that second site looks the most like Sarah) has yet to meet a sheep, but “[Is she] truly smarter than a chimpanzee? Cuddlier than a koala? More dedicated than Batman’s valet? Can [she] change course in midair?” My favorite line, though, is “Makes coyotes cringe.” That allays some of my fears—though I never “let” Sarah out but always take her out with me. But I’d just said to David the day before, after running her through some fast paces in the meadow, “If any dog could hold its own against a coyote, it would be this little girl. She just hugs the ground and streaks!”

On the other hand, despite what one person wrote online about an adopted Aussie-Border mix, I would not (that’s N-O-T) recommend this kind of a dog to just anyone. Because they are so clever, agile and energetic, they need lots and lots (and lots!) of regular exercise, along with very rigorous and consistent training. Sarah is good for my physical well-being because she gets me outdoors when I would otherwise be tempted to say, “I don’t have time for exercise,” and she’s good for my mental health because her little mind is so active that I have to stay alert, too, making sure she isn’t bored and looking for trouble, but quite honestly, she’s a lot more dog than we needed. These are not dogs to be left alone, not dogs for sedentary lifestyles (bookstore?), and they are not “low-maintenance” at all, in terms of attention required. Sarah is a huge commitment! She and I challenge each other: “Can you rise to my expectations?” “Are you woman enough to meet my needs?” I’m giving it my best shot, and she’s definitely worth it. I can’t take on any more jobs, though! Home, bookstore, classroom, Sarah—that’s definitely my limit!

Okay, so this afternoon, upon return from Traverse City (teaching day, but with a guest speaker taking most of the burden from me this week and giving my students what I’m sure is a welcome change of pace), and knowing that Bruce was at the helm of Dog Ears Books, I sprung Sarah from her morning solitary confinement and took off across field and orchard with her, through a corner of the woods, up to the unpaved road to our south. That’s when I heard them: coyotes yipping up a hullabaloo in the middle of the day. Sarah heard them, too, but when I changed course, she changed with me, turning toward home. No sense putting her to an unnecessary survival test, after all.


dmarks said...

"More dedicated than Batman’s valet?"

Someone has to keep the Batpole greased. But now I am imagining Sarah as a sort of super-hero dog.

P. J. Grath said...

I imagine her that way, too, though heroic deeds still lie in her future.

Dorene said...

I say that Sarah was giving those coyotes a chance to get away!

P. J. Grath said...

Dorene, I like your attitude!