Through some amazing technology developed by scientists who are not regulated by big government, I was able to talk with my dog last week. I know it sounds crazy, but with the A.C.M.E. Brand CHTM (Canine/Human Translation Module) I was able to interview him for about 2 hours. Sadly, when I thought it was time for a break, I asked him if he wanted to go outside, he became excited (as he always does) and as he ran to the door, he slipped on our Pergo and slid butt first into the CTHM…destroying it. The people at A.C.M.E. were pissed! I can’t believe they didn’t save any drawings or instructions on how they built the thing. I hope they can build another one; it was amazing to be able to really understand my dog’s view of the world we share.
My dog is a Black Labrador Retriever named Jerry. He is four and a half years old, and while he was bred to be a superior “field dog”, from a long and impressive line of field champions, Jerry is simply a family pet. We got him from a friend in North Carolina when he was 10 weeks old, and he has been with us ever since. We needed a dog, and the stars lined up for us to have Jerry – he’s now an integral part of our family. He’s Jerry the Wonder Dog.
The following is a transcript of some highlights from our conversation:
TLM: Wow Jerry, this technology is amazing, what do you think? Can you understand me?
JWD: Hey, I don’t know technology from toilet paper, boss…and I always understand you.
TLM: Sometimes you don’t act like you understand me.
JWD: Just because I don’t immediately follow your command…all the time…doesn’t mean that I don’t understand. Sometimes I just like to show you something that might be more fun, or better.
TLM: Yeah, like a stick.
JWD: I KNOW, RIGHT?! (Tail starts to wag quickly) Is there anything better than a stick? You can do so many things with a stick! You can chase it. You can catch it. You can pull it out of Ma’s hands. You can chew it up. You can kill it. You can…
TLM: Ok! Okay…I get it. Tell me why you find so much joy in those things.
JWD: (Cocks his head to one side) Really? I just told you why? I think the better question would be: Why don’t you? When we go on those walks on the hard stuff, I see you pass by sticks all the time. You just walk right by! (He’s giggling along with his words, and his tail is wagging again) I’m not mad or anything (he looks me right in the eye) I could never be mad at you. Ma does it too, and I LOVE HER, you know I do. I just don’t get it. You guys have this HUGE house, you have room for so many sticks, and other than ones I’ve hidden, there are NONE anywhere inside our house. I shouldn’t laugh, it’s sad if you really think about it. Oh well, I don’t do sadness, I guess it’s our differences that separate us from the animals.
TLM: Cool. Yeah, sorry, I guess I just don’t understand it.
TLM: What do you like better, sticks, or pizza crust?
JWD: I don’t really think in terms of better. We have a saying in the dog world, and we live by it: “It’s ALL good!” I think you guys spend too much time trying to figure out what’s best, and not enough time on the awesomeness that’s right in front of you. You think about what’s next, we think about what’s now.
TLM: You’re probably right. Are dog years really equal to 7 human years?
JWD: Probably, but not for the reasons you think. Dogs don’t really measure, or have a concept of time. I don’t know how long I’ve been living with you guys, I kind of remember my Dog Mom and my old house, but once she smelled your butt, and told me you were cool, I just became yours, and I was happy about it. All the time I’ve been here, I’ve BEEN HERE; I don’t spend any time thinking about what’s next. You guys measure time from event to event, and appointment to appointment…vacation to vacation, and so on. You measure in units of whatever you have to do, so you need more years to live your life. We don’t have time for that, pardon the pun, we just do. So when you just do, the years are quicker. Make sense?
TLM: No, not at all, and I don’t think there was a pun in there.
JWD: Yes there was.
TLM: I don’t think so.
JWD: (Laughing) I love you man! (Tail wagging again) Maybe this will make sense; time is only important to me if I’m waiting to eat, or waiting to go outside and do my field work… making sure you and your friends are safe, marking some trees, and relieving myself. If I measure time at all, I measure it in fun. You’re gonna live to be 80, maybe 90, or even 100; if I’m lucky, I’m gonna live to be 14. But I’ll have more fun in those 14 years than you will have in 100. I’m never sad, but if I ever really took the time to sit and truly process that fact, it could make me a little sad. You deserve better. Our family deserves better. And trust me, Boss, it’s not just you, I see it in all you guys…you people. When you have as much fun as I have, 14 years is plenty! Could I get some water?
TLM: Dang Jerry! You’re laying some harsh reality on me! This is almost awkward.
I pour some water for him; he laps it up, splashing half of it on the floor, “Oh that is so good!!!” he says in appreciation. “I LOVE water!”
JWD: (Responding to my ‘awkward’ comment) Hey, I don’t know awkward from Aardvarks…I’m just telling you how I feel because I love you. (He walks over to me and puts his nose under my fingers and lifts my hand to the top of his head) Look at me. Look in my eyes. I love you. Everything I do is because I love you and Ma, and your little people. If you love with all your heart, with everything you have, your body is only gonna last so long, but it’s a better way to live. The other dogs at the kennel say that’s why Poodles live so long…THEY DON’T LOVE ANYBODY!! (He laughs a deep belly laugh, rolls over on his back and just wiggles away)
TLM: Do you guys pick on other dogs at the kennel?
JWD: I don’t, but some dogs do. I’ll joke around like anybody else, but I’m a Lab. I can get along with anyone.
TLM: Do you like going to the kennel?
TLM: Care to elaborate?
JWD: No thanks, we can move on. I get it, I just don’t like it.
TLM: What is your proudest moment?
JWD: Oh dude, that’s easy, it’s one of my earliest memories. Remember the first weekend I lived with you, when you and Ma planted all those flowers in that loose dirt in our other house far away? You guys had so much fun, and you were so proud, you just stood there and stared at those flowers and smiled. Ma hugged you and thanked you, you guys smell really good when you do that stuff. Anyway, remember how you went away for a while, and when you came back, I pulled every single one of those flowers out of the ground so you could do it again. Remember? That was so great! I did that for you, it’s the first time I realized that I just wanted to make you guys happy. You were kind of dancing around and stomping, and I remember how Ma cried; I had never seen happy tears. I love good deeds! Anyway, do you remember that? Did that make you proud? Was that your proudest moment? It was mine.
TLM: Ah, yeah…I mean, ah NO. I mean, I remember it, but it’s one of many proud moments I guess. You always make me proud.
JWD: I know, right? I like how Ma tries to act like I drive her crazy, but I know she loves me just like she loves her little people. I love our little people…the boy one is sweet and gentle but still likes to wrestle, the girl one is strong and crazy. (Tail wagging again, rhythmically tapping against the baseboard molding) They’re good. I like the neighborhood little people too. It’s why I keep everybody safe.
TLM: Actually, that reminds me of my proudest moment with you. Do you remember barking at that man when the kids were in the yard, and I was washing the car?
JWD: Do I remember? What am I, hard of remembering? Of course I remember. You tell me what you remember.
TLM: I’m washing the car, I see a man walking down the street, I take little notice, and even less concern, and about 15 seconds later, I hear a bark out of you that I had never heard before.
JWD: (interrupts) I know, it’s the first time I had ever used it, I didn’t even know I had it. I don’t know if he was a bad man or not, but he didn’t smell right.
TLM: So anyway, I walk around to the side of the house, and the kids are kicking a soccer ball around, and that man was walking into the yard towards you and the kids…and there you are, still just a puppy…
JWD: (Interrupting again) I wasn’t a puppy, I was…
TLM: Yes you were! Don’t interrupt! Do you want to hear the story or don’t you?
(Tail falls between his legs)
JWD: Sorry, go ahead.
TLM: As I was saying…still a puppy…but barking this deep menacing bark, hackles standing straight up, and head down in attack position, standing between that man and my children.
JWD: Our children.
TLM: I was sure you were going to bite him. I had never seen that aggression in you, and I haven’t since.
JWD: (laughing again) I was gonna bite him. That chump had no business in our yard.
TLM: So when I come to you and yell at you to sit, you slowly stroll back to our kids, and just pace back and forth between me and the man, and the kids…hackles still up, keeping the kids separated.
JWD: I don’t think he was good. He shouldn’t have been in our yard if you didn’t know him. Were you afraid?
TLM: A little. I just didn’t understand what he was thinking.
JWD: That’s the only time I ever smelled you being afraid. Not me, I wasn’t scared, and he wasn’t coming anywhere near our kids. That guy didn’t smell right.
TLM: Well you made me proud; I love to tell that story.
JWD: (Licking my hand) that’s cool, but I wasn’t a puppy, at least at that moment I wasn’t. You need to know this, everybody needs to know this; I know I’m a Lab and everything, but if I think somebody is going to hurt one of you, they’re gonna have to hurt me first…that’s just the way I roll. Look at me, look in my eyes. I will NEVER let anybody hurt you, Ma, or your… I mean our… little people.
TLM: I know. I know that Jerry. You’re a good dog, and you’re an important part of our family.
JWD: And the community too.
TLM: And humble.
JWD: No I’m not.
TLM: (Now, I’m laughing) No, you’re not! Let’s take a little break and go outside
JWD: YES YES YES YES!!!!!
And that’s when it ended. He ran towards the door like a crazy hellhound, like there would never be another opportunity to go outside…like he always does. He slides as he corners the doorway and smashes directly into the A.C.M.E. CHTM.
He didn’t seem to care. He seemed happy.