Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dog Blog: August Oppression

I swear to you all, if there was any doubt, that I have nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with the weather! So please, stop calling the hot, uncomfortable, and humid days "Dog Days".

Even our normally comfortable and easy-going morning walks have been oppressed by thick, muggy air. I have to drag the hairy guy up the hill most days. More so since he hurt his back. And it's not just us. Everything seems to have slowed down to an agonized crawl. I'm not very old, but I think I remember this from when I was a puppy. I just hope I remember right, and it will stop soon.

Even though we haven't been outside often, I've been keeping my nose to the ground, trying to figure out what is leaving those strange smelling trails along the edges of my yard. It's not rabbit, but all I ever see out there is rabbit and squirrel. There was something out front that looked like another dog a couple of weeks ago, and the family spotted it and started yelling "Fox". It smelled like a cross between a dog and a cat, but it never really showed up where I could investigate.

But I think the humans know what this other smell is, even though their little button noses don't work that well. The hairy Dad guy keeps the big wooden fort in the back corner closed, and goes in there every now and then to look around. It's not a place I have any desire to go into, but the trails I find all seem to crisscross along the walls. The other day when he was in there, he came running out, making a gagging sound; he got a couple of bags out of the house, and went back in the shed, muttering, "Friggin' rats... disgusting."

Then he brought something small out, all wrapped in the bags, and threw it away in the front trash. I didn't get very close, because he seemed upset, but I definitely caught a whiff of that smell again. I may have to work up the nerve to go in there one of these days.

I asked Peter about it, but he doesn't like to tell me anything in a straightforward way. He's the rabbit I usually find in the middle of my yard when I get let out there. I wouldn't call him my friend, but he's the only critter out there with any brains that will talk to me at all. The squirrels are usually too busy playing their stupid games on the power lines to hold a conversation, and they don't pay much attention to life on the ground.

But Peter just laughs when I ask him about the Smell. "You're some dog, you know that?" he sneers. Or he'll tell me, "Just let us professionals deal with it, a'ight?"

Those danged rabbits are so superior, I'd just love to knock one down a notch. But I don't think I'll do any damage if I do catch one, now. I need to find out whatever they can tell me about that Smell. It could be important.

Last week, the family had to go somewhere with a bunch of flags (I think they said there were six of them), and couldn't take me. So, they put my crate down in the laundry room, where a concrete floor runs the length of the house. They blocked off a couple of areas they didn't want me to use as a toilet, and gave me some food.

While I was down there, I did a little exploring, and didn't find anything interesting. I was just going to have a snack, when I heard something. There is a big, metal hose that comes out of the back of one of the machines, and goes out a hole in the bricks. Something in there was moving!

I listened for a minute, and heard whispering voices:

"It's blocked off. I can't get through."

"Try chewing something."

"Ow! It's all metal."

"Alright, come back out. We'll find another way in."

I didn't like this at all. I started barking. Whatever it was, trapped in that hose, must have been scared out of its mind. Heh, heh. The echoes in there must have been horrible!

I heard the whisperers scuttle out the hole, and felt a little burst of triumph. I had saved the house!

But the good feeling only lasted until I heard a sharp little voice echoing down the hose from outside. "Nice one, dog. You cost Vinnie an eye. Watch your back from now on."

I told myself not to worry. After all, whatever it was sounded small. I was more upset that in the fuss, I had knocked all my food into the water bowl. But when the family got home, and let me out, I happened to notice the vent that opens out from that hole in the bricks.

It reeked of that Smell.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dog Blog: Bike Hike

I know how these toothless, clawless omnivores took over the planet. They build things.

It is hard to believe, but I've seen them do it. They open these big boxes and take out pieces to fit together, and when they are done, there is a new thing. Like a shed, or a bicycle. It's mind-blowing.

So my humans have gone and built this thing that holds my leash for them while they ride a bicycle, and I have to run alongside. It sounds awful, but it's really pretty great. I mean, I am part sled dog, so I can really pull them down the road at a good clip. And there is nothing as enjoyable as a good mush around the block. Really clears up the humors, if you know what I mean.

There are downsides, like anything. I can't stop every three feet and check p-mail. I can't hare off after everything that moves (not without pulling the bike with me). It takes a little discipline. They have started taking the leash along, though, and will stop at the park to actually walk me a bit, and let me sniff around.

I've been smelling something really odd around lately, too. Every couple of days, I'll pick up a trail of it across my yard. And sometimes, I smell it on my walk. It's kind of like rabbit or squirrel, but more sinister. How's that for foreshadowing, huh?

I know it's not cat; I know cats from the jail place where the humans picked me up. Cats aren't bad if you give them their space, usually. Though they tend to get a little tense no matter what you do.

When we got to the park this morning, I caught a trace of the Strange Thing over by the fence of the yard that runs along the bottom of the park. I was being dragged by the bike, so I couldn't check it out, but the Hairy Guy stopped near there to put me on my leash. I ran over to have a good scenting while the getting was good.

He followed me a little way, but then kind of stopped. He tends to be a little slow in the mornings, and likes to grumble about coffee and showers when I take too long to do my business. So, I took a huge crap as close to where I wanted to investigate as I could get, and while he cleaned it up (griping the whole time, of course) I stuck my head under the hedge and snuffled for all I was worth.

Now, like I said, I know about cats, and I generally respect their space. But they can be kind of crazy, and pop up where you least expect them. This little black number had crawled up inside the hedge, right where the Odd Smell was strongest, and when it started whispering at me, I could have spayed myself! (I probably would have, too, if it wasn't already done.)

"Are they gone?" it hissed. "Are what gone?" I asked, once the shock wore off.

"Those things... can't you smell them?"

"Yeah, that's what I'm hunting." I told her testily; imagine implying that my nose didn't work! "Are they some kind of rabbit?" I had a theory going that the new smell had something to do with the One-Eyed Jack and his Leporidae terrorist network.

"No, fool!" she nearly shrieked. "The rabbits are the only ones doing anything about it!"

And then her eyes went wild. Something was shuffling toward us through the underbrush beneath the hedge. She turned, bunched herself, and shot out through the top of the hedge, and bounded around the side of the nearest house. I tried to push in deeper to get a jump on whatever was coming, when I was rudely yanked by the harness back out into the park.

"I have a handful of your crap here, and you go chasing cats?" yelled the Hairy Guy. He seemed ticked off, but obviously hadn't noticed whatever was in the bushes.

And before I could explain, he had me hooked back up to the bike, and we were on our way.

When we got back to the house, he put me on the lead while he packed the bike back in the shed, and I sniffed out the perimeter. I smelled TWO trails of the Odd Smell, now! Whatever they were, they were getting bolder.

And as I went inside, I caught a glimpse of the One-Eyed Jack, staring fixedly at the big wooden fort in the back corner of my yard. The corner I can't reach. Hmmm....