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World according to dog

In to the Wind

April 3, 2012
By Mike Gilchrist , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Our dogs must see us as the best hunters ever. We drive away, and in an hour or so return carrying great bags of spoils from our "hunting trip." Eggs, meat which we've carefully wrapped in paper, bags of dog biscuits, and all sort of human food are willfully removed from the trunk. What a great way to hunt, they must think.

I've been told before my column has gone to the dogs. At times, I just can't help myself. Some of the most loyal people I know are dogs. And as Josh Billings is quoted as saying, "A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself." I can't help but concur.

I wonder if the farmers farming the fields around us missed too much corn during the past harvest. It seems like every day a new corn cob or two ends up in the front yard, stripped of its kernels. Holly, the overweight, ever vigilant yellow Labrador retriever seems to love corn. If you are fortunate to see a cob with all its kernels, it won't last long. Holly has developed the technique of holding the cob down with her paws as she rakes the kernels off the cob. It is actually a quite efficient operation. I've never met a corn fed dog before Holly. I wish I could report it cuts down on the amount of dog food I have to buy, but the behavior doesn't seem to have made a difference.

Article Photos

One warm summer night I watched Holly at the bottom of the driveway under the yard light. She was eating June bugs attracted by the light as quickly and efficiently as if she were a vacuum cleaner. She ate so many bugs that night, and got so engorged, she vomited them back up. That didn't stop her however; she went back for more.

Dogs, at least obedient ones, come when called, greet you when you arrive with wagging tail, and generally seem glad to see you.

Dogs have several modes. While inside they generally adopt a passive behavior, and if not looking for their next meal, find that predictably comfortable place to lay and sleep. They wait for their master to return, and go into an energy saving mode. When let outside, they become the explorer, and hunter.

Dogs are able to shift their behavior from docile inside animal to full-speed-ahead adventurer, where every new smell and change in their environment becomes a thing of wonder.

Doggie metaphors have quietly crept into our vernacular. Take for instance the term "let sleeping dogs lie." This term, in general English usage warns us not to restart old conflicts. Bringing up some old conflict which has been put to bed is like waking a sleeping dog; and is best left undone.

A tenacious person can be described as a "pit bull," or a "bull dog."

Some men have been described as "dogs" by women who know them well.

If "someone's bark is worse than their bite," they are not as unpleasant as they seem, and their actions are not as bad as their threats might lead you to believe.

My grandma once told me dogs couldn't see television. She didn't have any scientific evidence to back up such a claim, and being too much of a scientist to accept anything so outlandish on blind faith, just let her believe it without argument, but I knew better.

I do know, and there is scientific evidence that dogs don't have the proper color receptors or cones in their eyes to distinguish color, so live in a world that must be made up of shades of gray, not unlike black and white television of years past. But, I have seen dogs look at and watch television.

Paris, the little three legged dog doesn't look directly at the screen, but will "spazz out" and run from window to window barking at an unseen dog when she hears one bark on the television. No amount of rationalization and explanation can convince her there is no dog interloper outside and usually has to be put outside to see for herself.

Have you ever watched a sleeping dog twitch? They appear to be either chasing something, or running away from something, depending on the disposition of the dog, and their state of wellbeing and happiness.

There are some humans who also sense this canine desire. Some even make great plans to provide for their canine friends.

From the dog's point of view, his master is an elongated and abnormally cunning dog. -- Mabel Louise Robinson

When a dog barks at the moon, then it is religion; but when he barks at strangers, it is patriotism! -- David Starr Jordan

Before I die, my goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am.

Until next time--

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on the "Local Columns" button at the bottom of the page.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2012 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.



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