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Fido & Me: Strangers

February 24, 2012

Fido is off his feed.

Down in the dumps.
 
A little bit angry, too, although Fido usually is as mellow as a cello.
 
“What’s got your goat?” I said. “You seem a little off this week. Way off.”
 
He sighed in that Fido kind of way—a deep breath with his chest on the floor and his snout between his front feet—a heartfelt, mourning kind of sigh.
 
We sat for a while in perfect silence. A peaceful dusk was coming on and I let my mind drift this way and that.
 
All of a sudden, Fido leapt to his feet, ran over to the plate glass door and let out a series of barks, yelps, growls, roars and thunder.
 
For a moment there, I thought the world was coming apart.
 
“FIDO!” I yelled. He quieted down. “What the heck, anyway?”
 
“Th-th-th-there’s a dog out on the street.”
 
“So?”
 
“I don’t recognize that dog.”
 
He wagged the stump of his (docked) tail.
 
“Me neither, but I’m not going to get all apoplectic about it.”
 
“But, but, but.”
 
This was Fido’s first, full-blown holiday period in Mammoth. There was Christmas week, but because of the dearth of natural snow, many people called off their usual Eastern Sierra vacations.
 
But on Presidents’ Weekend, the town filled up, more or less. There was lots of new snow and a slew of new dogs came along, too.
 
This drove Fido nuts.
 
All the familiar scents were still there, but there were new ones, too, and in exponential numbers.
 
Most of the visitors were cool about their dogs. First of all, almost all of them were on-leash—as per our leash laws, and as per most urban leash laws.
 
Second, the humans picked up their dogs’ poops, again an urban behavior (and a good one).
 
But those were my own observations.
 
To Fido, it was like an invasion.
 
“The sheer audacity that a stranger would use MY street!” he said.
 
“The insolence! The effrontery!”
 
“Fido, you ought to see summer! Why, there are so many visiting dogs that you’d better find a way to work this out beforehand. They’re not bad dogs.
 
They’re dogs out to have a great time in a great place. Maybe we could do a little training.”
 
I put a few treats in my pocket and we ventured forth. The results were mixed.
 
“Is he friendly?” was the usual greeting.
 
“Oh yeah. This is Fido. Never bites, never swears, doesn’t smoke and never drinks.”
 
“Hey, is that the dog that’s in the paper?”
 
“Yep, sure is.”
 
Nobody asks me if I’m the guy in the paper. It’s all about Fido.
 
There were a few testy moments, but in those incidents, both dogs had leashes (Fido wears a Gentle Leader. Snappy and effective.)
 
Anyway, it’s coming along, the training that is.
 
But it’ll take more than that one outing.
 
We’ll check back in along about August to let you know how it went.
George and Fido. Photo/Jesse Barlet
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