Up and out unusually early for the a.m. walk. Though sleepy, I suppress a growl of protest, seeing they've got themselves into another of those weeks when everyone runs around complaining about running around.
We meet another man-dog pair. At the high end of the leashes, there's talk about nuclear freeze and Wicker says and Evans and Novak says, but Newsweek says. Can't say I care.
At the lower end of the other leash is one of the perversions of the species, a Lhasa apso. I politely reciprocate a sniff, but indicate, with a tug, that I'd prefer to get on with the walk.
Lhasa's companion says, "I'll put that report in the mail to you." Comes the reply, "Let's get together for lunch."
I pick up some good sniff near the old grouch's house, two blocks from our place, and am drawing in and analyzing the aromatic data when the shout comes, "What's that dog doing on my lawn?" My man shouts back, "Ask him, don't ask me."
We continue homeward, passing an obvious dogophobe, who says, "Look at the size of that dog." True, I'm large as dogs go, but at 110 pounds am actually outweighed by most adults and many teenagers.
What I'm beginning to realize is that, unlike people, I have my life interests and objectives clearly sorted out: food, sleep, sex and sports. I know that list overlaps with some of their priorities, but they seem to get mixed up lots of the time.
Also, what I don't care for and will never indulge in are the hypocrisies that people toss off so easily. Like the other night. The phone rings. She answers and calls to him, "It's so and so for you." He puts down a newspaper -- they read one newspaper after another, and always say there's nothing in them -- and says, "Why's that silly ass bothering me again?" Then picks up the phone and says, "Hi, good to hear from you." Say what you want about dogs, we're straightforward. When I don't like someone, he knows it.
This is the day of the great pat,e robbery. They're cleaning up after a dinner party, while I try to settle down for the night.
Then she says, "Where's the pate?" He says, "If it's not there, I guess they ate it all."
She says, "Can't be. When we were serving dessert, I noticed about a pound of it left on the platter. I bet that damn dog ate it." He says, "Check his breath for garlic."
She says, "Don't be disgusting." He says, "Guilty until proven innocent, huh?"
She says, "I suppose we have to convene a jury of his peers?"
I pretend to drowse through all this, but am actually on very high alert for a mad dash if she comes at me with a newspaper. Fortunately, the phone rings and attention is diverted. The pat,e has made me very thirsty and I head for my water bowl.
To the vet this morning. I was hoping it would be for a stud job, but no luck, just a booster shot. I always welcome those service assignments, though I can't say I care for those kinky attendants suddenly barging in.
The vet's waiting room is always a zoo. This time there was a woman with a chicken. Just a routine checkup, she said. Attendant at the desk took a phone call, and yelled to the doctor in the back, "It's Mrs. Brown, she says Rusty is constipated again."
Then she took another call, and I heard her say, "An office visit is $15. Yes, even for a chipmunk."
When we're called in, the vet puts on the usual show. "Well, how's this big fella today? Really looking good, isn't he?" All I'm thinking is, "Doc, stick me and let me out of here." You hear that spooky things go on at the vet's. I wonder.
There are so many complaints about dogs, but little attention is given to the other side of the coin. Take, for example, what I do tonight -- a security job. A friend of theirs is away on a trip and his wife is afraid to stay in the house alone with the kids. So, I'm lent out for the night, which I don't mind, especially since she thinks some leftover roast beef will make me a better guard.
People say, "Boy, if any burglar came into a room and saw Walter, he'd drop dead in his tracks." They never seem interested in how I feel about being put on the line against experienced thugs. Anyway, I've found that there's nothing like bringing up a deep baritone bark to keep the matter from coming to a test.
Uneventful guard duty permits me to reflect on the burdens of the city dog. People seem to think we have little to do, but, in fact, there's not time enough to attend to all our responsibilities. Like cheering up depressed people, of whom there seem to be more and more.
Out on the street, a tail wag and a nuzzle seems to do wonders for these poor folks. Even psychiatrists are noticing that. Then there's keeping up with nearby dogs, part of neighborhood security. Just the other day, I tried to bark up Rascal down the block to check out something, but he was busy barking up with a dog farther down the block. Then when he tried to reach me, I was out.
And all that careful street sniffing that we do -- and get scolded for. People don't seem to understand that that's research about comings and goings, and it has to be done properly. Otherwise, why bother?
The week was so frantic that I end up with a backlog of unworked marrow bones that isn't going to keep forever. I am miraculously able to work on them without interruption throughout most of the afternoon.
But then comes a friend of theirs who I call the mad jogger. An otherwise normal person -- I can sniff a weirdo six blocks away -- this guy runs 10 miles at a time and for no reason I know thinks that I share this senseless interest in exhaustion. So, Walt gets "borrowed" and off we run, mile after mile, and I keep it up to humor him along. The sight of man and dog teamed up in this stupid activity does bring joy to lots of simpletons we pass along the way.
The day begins with crisis. The papers have gotten rained on on the front walk. And not only that, but some piece is missing from one of them, the same piece that was missing a couple of months ago. I'm too busy to follow the conversation carefully, but he says something about the paper delivery problem being part of the general crumbling of civilization, and she says "paranoia" several times.
Dinner party that night, and she's on her toes about protecting the goodies. But the guests can't resist sharing with me a few good pickings while they're drinking and munching.
When they're seated at the table, I take up my usual rug-level watching post nearby. Some serious below-table rubbies going on between a couple of guests that dog sense tells me would not like it known. The guy suddenly notices me eyeing him, and he looks frightened, sort of like I might blab. Not me, though like many dogs, I know a lot more than I let on. On the way out, the guilty-looking guy slips me a very nice slice of lamb.
Anyway, I hang around for the cleanup, and then get in a few hours on the bones. It's very late and I'm tired, but I hate that feeling of falling behimd in my work.