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Opinion column: Just another day in a dog’s life

Posted: Wednesday, Feb 6th, 2013




Humans have long been fascinated by that which we cannot understand. All around us, a lot of what is happening in the world is driven by the search for more knowledge.

One humorous but unsolved mystery is the inability of men to understand women. This is considered fact, and I don’t think research is even being done on the matter any longer.

Eddie Murphy performed some hilarious standup routines about this very topic back in the ‘80s when he was still funny. And remember the movie “What Women Want” starring Helen Hunt and a pre-crazy Mel Gibson? For those not up to speed, here is a two-sentence summary: Gibson is electrocuted and can suddenly hear women’s thoughts. Without spoiling anything, his world improves with this gift.

Truth be told, this genre is actually pretty played out. We know men and women don’t always see eye to eye, and we know it will never change.

But, one largely forgotten part of “What Women Want” is, as the Wikipedia page reminds those of us who haven’t seen the movie in better than a decade, Gibson can hear the thoughts of a female French poodle in the park.

Most dog lovers realize that we, like men and women, often don’t fully understand each other.

The poodle actually speaks French, but sometimes I think my dog is like those on the “Beggin Strips” commercials. You know, just looking for food and yelling “bacon” all the time.

This lasts until she gets that look in her eye that tells me she feels neglected, meaning I can expect to come home to an accident on the floor next time I leave the house for more than an hour.

I’m fascinated by the study of people, especially in our interactions with other people, but dealing with my dog, Abby, got me thinking about what is really going through her head. I’ve found we’re far apart on quite a few topics.

For Abby, electronics clearly lead to some differences of opinion.

“Why is he laughing into that small black rectangle and calling it Jake? What is his problem? And earlier he was jumping up and down and yelling at the big rectangle that makes all the colors and noises. Who were those magical ‘Steelers’ he thinks he’s talking to? I think he’s finally gone off the deep end.”

And cleaning: talk about miscommunication.

“I can’t believe he’s yelling at ME to move out of the way! Can’t he see I’m trying to save him from this loud killing machine that calls itself ‘Dirt Devil?’”

House guests might even be the worst of all.

“Travis! Travis! Come quick! Hurry! Bring weapons! There are people at the door trying to enter my domain! I am not OK with that, FYI!”

As confused as she must be, I am at least equally mystified. Some of my average trains of thought:

“It’s 7 a.m. It’s Monday. It’s minus 10 degrees out, and my leash-holding hand is already numb. Must she really sniff the entire yard inch by inch to find that perfect spot TODAY?”

“She’s been circling that cushion and pawing at it for at least two minutes on the couch by my feet. I wish she would just lay down already.”

(see above) “It’s 7 a.m., but it’s Saturday. Saturday! Go back to sleep, dog, and stop barking! You don’t have to go THAT bad!”

And finally, the classic: “Yes, I guess you did have to shake yourself off the second I reached for the shampoo bottle, getting me nearly as drenched as you are. Perfect.”

Reading back over this column, perhaps I didn’t train my dog as well as I should have. Maybe I need that dog whisperer from TV.

Or, as simple and rewarding as owning a dog (past puppydom) actually is, I guess there’s a chance that, like women, Abby and I will never fully understand each other and get on the exact same wavelength. Oh well, maybe Mel Gibson will help me out.

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