Imagine this. It’s early morning, early winter and the snow is gently falling on the pavement — almost as if it is afraid to wake up the cold asphalt. The sun shines golden-grey through the sparkly haze. A woman strolls by on the sidewalk with a medium sized dog in a sweater. The sweater is ripe-apple red and has four little sleeves, one for each little doggy leg. At the bottom of each doggy leg is presumably a paw — but each is covered in a matching ripe-apple red bootie.
Folks this is a dog, not a child. In fact, it is simply unmistakable as such, as it is now squatting awkwardly in the middle of the asphalt, which surely is shuddering awake now with disgust. This animal does not need a sweater! It comes with a built in sweater, like all of its kind and kin (does a wolf need a sweater? I think not). Why spend money on a poor impersonation?
And what the heck is up with doggy sweaters with fake fur hoods? A dog does not need a hood, especially one with fake fur. It already has real fur, people. It’s a dog.
Anyways, up in this mountain town I call home — this town of transients and party animals, tourists and harsh weather — people treat their pets like other people. True, I grew up with pets and I know that they do become part of the family. But you probably didn’t think of Spot as your brother or sister, correct? Spot didn’t get new school clothes or a sack lunch every day. Because obviously Spot didn’t go to school — he’s a dog.
I am not a complete hater — I do love most animals. But after being around some Summit County dogs for over five years, I want to puke. Help me keep my food down, okay? A few helpful Kibbles and Bits to start us off:
1. If your dog jumps, barks and growls and you can’t get it sit, shut up and chill out, put it on a friggin’ leash. Simple as that.
2. If a dog does not need a sweater, it most definitely does not need sunglasses — capice?
3. If your dog fits in your purse, that’s just weird. That’s not a dog — that’s a rodent.
From Avalanche to Zamboni
Quoth thy fair Shakespeare, “That which we call a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Similarly, a dog by whichever name you choose to christen it will still be man’s best friend — the dog. There are so many names out there — Spot, Fido, Fifi, Dog, whatever. Why is it, then, that folks up here in the high country choose to name their dogs after the area they abide in and the objects or places contained within? I mean, I don’t often hear of people in Denver naming their dog, “Smog,” or “Taxi,” or “Downtown.” So what’s up with naming your dog Summit? Mogul? Basin? Did people stumble out of the pound with their new puppy, blinking in the sun, until their vision focused on —
“Pine Tree! That’s a perfect name!”
For a tree, yes. But that’s not a tree — it’s a dog.
Man’s Bestest Friend
Last summer, I was hiking up to Ptarmigan Peak. High up in the green leaves of aspen trees, birds serenaded each other and my feet squished happily on the ever-muddy trails. I came around a bend to find a woman in a blindingly pink velvet tracksuit sitting on a fallen log. Beside her sat some sort of poodle-looking dog with a pink collar of similar hue. The woman and her wagging canine were the perfect case in point that many people’s pets look like their owners. Besides the Barbie pink ensemble, both had a sort of gaunt, pinched look — the woman from a bit too much plastic work, and the dog from its awkward, half-eaten cotton candy bit. The coiffed hair on its rump was more reminiscent of the trimmed hedges in “Edward Scissorhands” than anything that an animal should be subjected to.
Anyhow, it’s said that you can’t judge a book by its cover — but perhaps you can by the words it contains read out loud. This salmon-clad woman was spouting out praise to her four-legged hedge like a cloaked Harry Potter fan who camped out all night and finally got the chance to shake J.K. Rowley’s hand.
“You’re such a good girl, Fifi, such a goooooood girl, such a good hiker, you kept up with me so well, what a good girl, yes, you are, yes you are, such a great girl, you’re gonna get some treats when we get home, yes you are, good girl, oh, haha, gimme a kiss, such a fun time we had today, wasn’t it?”
And so on, and so forth, in a cooing tone as if trying to sooth a screaming, poo-soaked baby. Except that it was a dog.
Another example: I recently listened to a kid about my age talking about “Ky” outside the grocery store. He and Ky had gone for a hike, zipped by the store, the bank, rented a movie (it was good) and made some dinner. And I’m thinking to myself, cool, this guy is kind of goofy looking in his tall tee, flat brim hat and 17 neon colors, but he’s got a buddy that sees through all that. Next thing I know, Ky has jumped out of the back of his truck and is running free and wild across the parking lot. Ky is a big, black Labrador Retriever. I wanted to ask Ky if he liked the movie as much as his owner, but then I realized that would be difficult because he is a dog.
Oil and Water, Dogs and Fodder
What does this sign mean to you, dear reader?
“No Dogs or Smoking on the Patio, Please.”
You are logical human beings, right? Probably you’re thinking, no hairy, drooling companions or lighting up on the patio. And you are correct. But miraculously, this sign proves deceiving — and I begin to suspect it is not the fault of the sign or the creator of the sign, but perhaps the reader of the sign. A few questions I have received (as the waitress on the nonsmoking, pet free patio) upon notice of aforementioned sign:
Him: Since there is no one out here but us, can I bring my dog onto the patio?
What I want to say: Is that a dog? And is this a patio? What does the sign say, jackass?
What I say: No, we don’t allow any dogs on the patio. Sorry.
Her: But she (the puppy) is just eight weeks old. Can I just keep it right next to me?
What I want to say: Your stupid dog is two months old. Don’t be like one of those parents that insists on saying that their child is 93 weeks old. And you are not a parent because that is a flipping dog.
What I say: No, we don’t allow any dogs on the patio. Sorry.
Him: Can I grab a leash and just tie my dog up right here on the edge of the patio?
What I want to say: Can I shove its leash up your a**?
What I say: No, We don’t allow any dogs on the patio. Sorry.
The reason for all this anti-pet-ism is quite simple. We are a restaurant which means we sling food. Because we sling food, we are restricted by health code from having animals around. Do you want Bernese Mountain Dog hairs in your Denver omelet? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
After all, this an animal that will readily and eagerly eat other animals’ poop. This is an animal that is content– when not eating poop — to eat freeze-dried, homogeneous brownish-red pellets out of a bowl that is rarely if ever cleaned. This is an animal that emits its own weight in drool and hair daily and does not have the common courtesy to leave the room to scratch its own butt — which it does frequently and more frequently around guests. This is an animal that jams its wet, cold nose in stranger’s crotches and calls it a day. This is an animal that is content to sit in your hot, dirty, smelly car all day and drool and bark and think about eating other animals’ poop. Just saying.