If a dog dies of neglect in a back yard, does the neighbor hear the sound or was the television turned up too loud? In the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko utters many immortal lines such as “greed is good,” and “you’re not naive enough to think we live in a democracy are you?” But his golden line for immortality is, “If you need a friend, get a dog.” Whenever I find myself driving behind a dog or dogs untethered in the back of a moving pickup, I immediately turn so I don’t have to watch such obscene treatment of dogs. I once berated a neighborhood boy into crying after he told me his untethered puppy died jumping out of the back of a moving pickup. I played with the puppy and let that kid have it. I desperately wanted two jobs this past year: grant writer for a homeless shelter and grant writer for an animal shelter. I was denied both jobs because of my crime. The animal shelter wouldn’t even let me walk the dogs. I was deemed unfit to help homeless humans and homeless dogs. There should be a word for this type of exclusion and perhaps one day I’ll invent it when I see a homeless man walking with his dog. Those without a dog can cast the first stick to a shelter dog. Tramps like me, baby I was born to dog.
The saying goes: over time, a long time, a dog and a dog owner’s faces begin to resemble one another. It might have been incredibly, Rainier Maria Rilke in his 1910 novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. He wrote:
Of course, since they have several faces, you might wonder what they do with the other ones. They keep them in storage. Their children will wear them. But sometimes it also happens that their dogs go out wearing them. And why not? A face is a face.
I once asked participants in a faces-themed writing workshop a question. Did my face resemble Sonny’s. I asked because virtually everyone in the class had either met Sonny or seen her face as a photograph accompanying my books, columns and posts about our madcap adventures down Oregon Coast beaches. She once had the most famous dog face in Oregon. She had more words written about her than any dog in the history of Oregon and here I am, still going strong. A brief silence ensued after the question. I got nervous. I couldn’t predict my reaction. I asked a question of an an audience that I didn’t know the answer. You’re not supposed to do that in legal matters or in literary venues. The answer must be known. Who wants to ask questions when the answers are already thought to be known? Most people. I found that out. Does anyone want to look like their dog? Is it a sly compliment or a veiled insult? Then Susan spoke: “Yes, your face did…it was the eyebrows.” I felt overjoyed when I heard this. A “dog face” is an old military term to describe a US Army infantryman. I have no idea of its origin, but I guess I sort of like the ring to it.
Dogs don’t stray from conversations with their phones. A stray dog can help a human astray find direction. The only video slot machine I will play is the husky game. I’ve never won. I used to play tennis with my dogs. We went through a lot of balls. Jim Harrison is the greatest American writer on the subject of dogs but he never wrote a dog book. His characters often cooked for their dogs. After reading this, I often barbecued steaks for my dogs and only the best cuts, too. Is there a great rock song about dogs? Harry Nilsson wrote “Me and My Arrow” and it’s a great song, but not really a rocker. The Rolling Stones wrote a song called “Bitch” but it is not about a dog. There is rock band in Port Orford, Oregon called Antique Dog but their eponymous 1999 CD strangely does not contain a dog song. Blake Shelton’s “I’ll Name the Dogs” is the cheesiest, phoniest country music song in recent memory. Why does the woman get to name the babies and the man gets to name the dogs? Why not get drunk on sangria and throw up a telephone book and see where it opens? That’s more country than this song. I wrote a country western song called “I Had to Put My Dog Down, Wish it Had Been My Ex Girlfriend.” (A true story.) It’s a sure fire hit for Taylor Swift and she is welcome to record it. All share of my profits will go toward animal shelter dogs. I also wrote a story titled “Christmas Jack” where a neglected boy steals a neglected dog off a chain on Christmas Eve. It would make a great animated film.
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