Every Dog Has His Life

People always say that their dogs are part of the family.  So, it’s indeed unfortunate that we generally have much shorter life spans than our human family members.  A family may run through several dogs, so it becomes the challenge of each one, in the relatively limited time available, to make his/her mark, to become indelibly etched in the collective heart of the family.  This requires little, if any, effort on my part.  My magnetic personality, undeniable charisma, heroic nature and movie star looks sealed my place in the family hall of fame right out of the blocks.

Nevertheless, it chaps my paws to occasionally hear Mom and Dad reminisce about the wonderful attributes of the dear departed dogs who preceded me.  One in particular.  Her name was Sydney.  She was also an Aussie.  I’ve seen photos and must admit she was quite cute.  In fact, she and I would have undoubtedly had a hot and steamy romance if she had not suffered the misfortune of passing before she met me.  What annoys me is why they remember her as being so incredible.  For instance, they say, “She was so cool..she really had a mind of her own.”  Of course, they must think I have the mind of a capuchin monkey (which explains why I steal bananas off the kitchen counter, leaving peels on the floor for Dad to slip on).  What an inane thing to say.  What they mean is Sydney refused to do things most other dogs routinely did, like chase and return a ball.  A mind of her own?  I call it insubordination, calling for strong measures of progressive discipline.

But I suppose I shouldn’t begrudge my predecessors their posthumous adulation.  I will be content to assume my place, however short-lived, in this little slice of insanity I call my family.  Someday, some other dog will probably be hearing, “Flapjack was just about the best dog ever!”   I’ll be listening and humbly agreeing.

Baseball Should Go To The Dogs

As I switch back and forth like a TV zombie between a dog show on Animal Planet and a Yankees-Red Sox game, it occurred to me that “man’s best friend” is not represented whatsoever on the Major League stage of our national pastime.  Oh, we have mammals (Tigers, Cubs), birds (Cardinals, Orioles, Blue Jays), and even fish and snakes (Marlins and Diamondbacks), but the most recognizable, loving and loyal animals – the ones found in almost as many homes in this country as bags of Doritos –  are nowhere to be found on our big league diamonds.  This is nothing less than discrimination and defamation by omission.

Major League Baseball and team owners cannot assert that they couldn’t think of dog-team names.  Just think of the possibilities:  Baltimore Beagles, Chicago Chihuahuas, Boston Boxers, Arizona Aussies, Houston Huskies, St. Louis St. Bernards..the list of potentials is endless.  So why are dogs so obviously absent in the bigs?  Well, if living with my mom and dad has done nothing else, it has equipped me with the expertise to speculate on the irrational behavior of humans.  In this case, I think the answers are as sad as they are simple.  As much as humans love their dogs, canines lack the fearsomeness, cuteness or unique local identity to qualify for a major league moniker.  In addition, humans are just too close to their dogs to put them on a big league pedestal (anyone who poops on my lawn simply will not adorn my jersey and cap).

Now there’s a cute cocker spaniel in the dog show, and it’s 7th inning stretch time at Fenway, so I’m already forgetting why this seemed important a few minutes ago.  Back to zombie land…


Although I’m not a total technoramous, I limit my high tech usage out of principle; I believe technology is quickly exceeding the social and intellectual capacity of most dog breeds to use it wisely.  Aussies are the exception, of course, but as my grandma would say, all things in moderation, even for Aussies who can manage all manner of excess.  So, while some dogs are on Twit-time and Facetube all day long, I abstain.  Oh, sure, I have collar I.D. (my dog tags), a laptop (I occasionally lie on Mom’s lap while she’s watching TV), an IPad (the comforter I use for sleeping), and I Wii (on just about every tree in sight), but I prefer to post my blog entries by dictating to my dad..so blame him for any misspellings or grammatical errors.

Occasionally, I’ll make a comment on current events.  I know – dogs have no idea of current events, much less the capability to comment, but I’ll remind you that I am an Aussie.

Two items attracted my attention today. First, in the Secret Service scandal involving prostitutes in Colombia, two Marine dog handlers were also being investigated.  One reporter had the unmitigated nerve to infer that the dogs somehow facilitated and even engaged in the alleged sexual activities.  With absolutely no evidence to support any untoward activities by my cousins, I feel this wild indictment of our canine troops is an outrage.  My supposition is that the dogs in question probably attempted to dissuade their handlers from conduct which they would later regret, but I guess I’ll just have to wait for investigators to sniff out the entire story.  Hopefully, dogs will be represented on the investigation team, as sniffing is their forte.

Finally, this Sunday, April 22, marks the forty-second observence of Earth Day.  I intend to celebrate by watering as many trees my seemingly infinite bladder capacity can handle.  Dad said he will outfit me with a backpack, and we will walk the neighborhood streets gathering debris to be deposited in my pack.  Right.  As usual, his plans are approximately a galaxy away from what will actually happen.  I predict that I will be a bit under the weather, and he will look just lovely in a Petsmart backpack.

Urine Trouble

I have a beautiful, spacious dog run in my backyard.  When I’m not in the house or out and about, I spend some time relaxing and reflecting there.  Two things I don’t do there – never have, never will – are peeing and pooping.  Mom and Dad are beyond perplexed by this behavior, and have expressed their dismay on many occasions.  Dogs, they say, always do their toileting in a dog run.  Then, their human friends diligently clean the run every day, and all is right with the world.

Yeah, fine.  I care not where other dogs do dog doo.  I have my standards, and I refuse to make messes in my living area.  If they want to erect an area within my dog run specifically for this purpose, much like a bathroom within a house, I would consider using it.  Otherwise, forget it.  And another thing:  If they know that I relieve myself in the dog run, they may not be so eager to extricate me from those confines to relieve myself elsewhere (and to be with my “pack” where I belong).

Dad went so far as to plant a bright yellow stake in the dog run.  The stake, which he bought at a local pet store, is designed to emit an odor which invites a dog to take care of business in that location.  After planting it and leaving me in the run for 2 hours, he returned to find the stake uprooted and miraculously split into 457 pieces, arranged delightfully and strategically to add color and dimension to my patio.  This may have added to the ambience of the place, but it did not have the desired calming effect on Dad.

So to my astonishment, he unzipped and actually urinated in the corner of my run!!  He said, “In case you need a visual tutorial, here it is.”  By the way, my astonishment was primarily due to the fact that he did this without raising his leg, which brought up some gender issues.  But I was also offended by such lewd and insensitive conduct.  As I am not above an occasional act of justifiable vengeance, I made a mental note to ‘accidentally’ pee in the family room…maybe during extra innings of a big game.  Of course, that will result in another outing to the dog run where bowel and bladder sleep like babies…and the circle of life continues.

Some Doors Never Open

Mom and Dad always tell me where we’re going when we get in the car.  I know from talking with my buds that some folks bypass this courtesy, either thinking that dogs don’t understand or lacking the sensitivity to care whether the dog knows the destination.  But we do understand and we do appreciate knowing.  How would you like to get in the car and have no idea where you’re going?  (Actually, I think my dad knows all too well how that feels..sometimes he doesn’t remember until he drives a block or two).

Yesterday, Dad opened the car door and said, “OK, up we go Flap..off to the vet.”  If you know Aussies, you know that little rattles us, including nice harmless people in white coats.  But there is one small procedure that insults the dignity of even the most undignified among us, and I knew I would be facing it on this visit.  And yet, I didn’t balk or run the other way as many in other less civilized breeds would have.  I calmly jumped in the car and steeled my resolve for the battle which would soon begin.

The doc was, as usual, all smiles.  He scratched my ears, he rightly complimented my extraordinary good looks, he gave me a small dog biscuit, but then I saw it in his hand.  He was trying unsuccessfully to conceal it, but I knew instinctively that it was there all the time.  I think they call it a rectal thermometer, but I call it “the humiliator”.  I can take just about anything, but there’s something about that hard, cold rod that makes my butt snear like Clint Eastwood, “You feelin’ lucky today, punk?”  So, with two burly technicians holding me motionless, the vet was confident he could slide the greased instrument right up there where the sun don’t shine.  Game on.  I knew he was no match for the incredible butt-clinching talents of which I pride myself.  He tried everything in his arsenal of tricks:  distraction, treats, pleading, threats, even standing back and trying to chuck it like a dart as if my anus was a bull’s eye.  But there are some doors that never open.  The doc threw down the humiliator and defeatedly said,  “He looks just fine; no need to get his temp.”

So, when Dad said, “Up we go Flap, let’s go home,”  I settled comfortably on the rear seat, with my butt only then beginning to relax.  I fell into my sixth nap of the day.  I dreamed about my next visit to the vet.  Doc was holding the dreaded humiliator, and behind him a firefighter was preparing the jaws of life.  Game on.

Awesome Aussie Guard Dog

It was a windy, rainy night, the kind of night where strange sounds seem to emanate from every corner of the house.  As usual, my family slept soundly, leaving me in charge of investigating and resolving any unusual incidents.  At precisely 3:20 a.m. it happened.  I heard human voices coming from somewhere downstairs.  Now, permit me to pause here and explain something about my proud breed of Australian Shepherds.  If you want a dog to frighten an intruder into cardiac arrest, get a Doberman, Rottweiller or similar intimidating protector.  If you want a dog to gather intruders into a neat grouping in the corner of a room as they await someone to shear the wool from their bodies, I’m your guy.  So I stealthily padded down the stairs and followed the voices, intending to quickly herd the trespassers into the nearest closet, slam the door and hold my body against it while barking for reinforcements (Aussies are better herders than planners).  When I reached the source of the voices, an NPR interview on a guest room clock-radio which Mom accidentally activated while dusting yesterday, I was not amused.  But before I silenced the alarm, I listened to the remainder of the interview which regarded the tremendous contributions dogs have made to humankind.  It was quite illuminating.  Then I trudged back to bed…but not to sleep.  Someone has to remain alert to investigate bumps in the night, and I think we all know who that is in this house.

Physician, Heal Thyself

I walk my “dad” at least twice a day because, heaven knows, he needs the exercise.  He likes burning a few calories and getting the chance to clear his mind.  I’m not quite sure there’s much in there that requires clearing, and I’m concerned about wasting time draining an empty well, but he seems to benefit.  There are times however, like this afternoon, when I have my doubts.  We were walking as we always do, tethered together with my designer leash – the leash is obviously for his benefit because I heel better than Dr. Oz – when he suddenly yells, “We gotta go home..I forgot your leash.”  So I gave him a good yank (yanking his chain has become commonplace for me) and at least temporarily brought him back to his senses.  This is the same guy who was driving me home from the vet last week and, while stopped at an intersection, repeatedly pointed at the red light with his garage door transmitter, clicking it impatiently for a light change.  When we made it home, he instructed me to “speak”..I guess he thought that would open the garage door.  But you gotta love him.  He just needs a little work.  And that’s why I’m here.

What kind of ridiculous name is “Flapjack”?

My first memories were of wandering the Sierra foothills, a puppy lost and alone with no idea how I got there.  I had a collar with a tag which simply read “Jack”.  I made friends with all sorts of animals, including a very gregarious duck.  I wanted to fly like him and studied the way he flapped his wings to defy gravity.  I had ample ears and figured I could utilize them as wings.  As I ran madly through the forest with my ears flapping in the wind, my friends cheered me on..”flap – Jack”..but needless to say, gravity was not even remotely challenged, much less defied.  So I was resigned to a grounded life and a new and improved name.  OK, the name is a bit ridiculous and lacking in nobility, but it suits me.  Eventually I found a home with a well meaning but somewhat clueless couple, and I dedicated my existence to helping them enjoy life in spite of themselves.  In furtherance of that endeavor, I started this dog blog as an example to them that anything is possible.