Fido is putting on the dog.
“I think you should give me a good brushing.”
“Well, sure,” I said. “I like brushing you.”
“Be sure to get the hard-to-get-to spots, too,” he said. “And I’d like to have a nice, shiny coat and maybe a haircut. Something along the lines of a medium shag.”
“Neither of those are a problem, my fine fellow,” I said.
This is a big weekend for Fido. It’s the weekend that Eagle Lodge closes and, across town, Canyon Lodge, too. Fido is completely guileless (Main Lodge is open through Memorial Day) and a good dog. He’s polite, and always on the lookout for something nice to do for his fellow hounds and their humans.
When Eagle and Canyon close, Fido wants to wish our visitors a safe trip home and to tell them, in his way, that he’s eager to see them next ski season.
And so he goes through his goodbye ritual.
“Where did you put my evening gloves?” he asked. “If I’m going to put on the dog, I’d like to do it right. Hey-hey-hey-hey!”
The big red lug has a separate drawer area in the closet. He himself labeled it. It says Fido, except he has the “F” turned backward. Fido’s alphabet is one of his most charming characteristics.
And there, too, were his placards.
I built the placards for him some time ago, at Fido’s request. They are heavy, white cardboard. On one of them, he wrote, “Welcome Back!” Like the “F,” he got the “B” backward. On the other placard, he wrote, “Safe travels,” and under that, “Until next year!”
He correctly picked out placard No. 2.
I had slipped a smallish chain to the placards, so he could wear them around his neck.
“But first,” he said, “I have to say goodbye to all my dog friends.”
“How are you going to do that?”
“It’s the wonder of pee-mail!” he answered.
In fact, all this past week Fido has been tugging me this way and that, leaving his “mail” in strategic spots. Or so it seemed to me. And I was right! Sometimes, Fido isn’t that complicated.
“Goodbye Ruffles! (lift leg, squirt), Goodbye Spot! (lift leg, squirt), Goodbye Bob! (ditto) and Goodbye Alice! (lift leg, double-squirt) See you next season!”
“Fido, I don’t think those scents are going to be around next ski season.”
“Never underestimate a dog’s nose,” he said. “We can sniff backward in time—at least I can.”
I already know the drill for Sunday afternoon, so it’s not going to baffle me in the slightest. Even so, I get a big bang out of every change of season.
Fido likes to trot over to Meridian Boulevard and position himself near Minaret Road on the downhill side.
When a vehicle passes by, Fido stands up on his hind legs in such a way that the departing dogs and their humans can see the sign with the backward letters.
He gives them a playful bark.
This is not his alarm bark (annoying) or his warning bark. Fido would be the first to tell you that dogs have a bucketful of barks. There’s the “don’t leave-me-alone” bark, the “I see a stranger” bark, and so on.
As for picking up a scent, Fido had some advice.
“Humans have about five million scent receptors in their beaks,” he said. “We have up to 300 million.”
“You have 300 million scent receptors?”
Fido blushed. He said the 300 million were for bloodhounds. He said he himself has about 150 million.
“Even so,” I said. “That’s a lot.”
Fido lay on the floor and looked in his Fido drawer.
“A-ha!” he said.
“I almost forgot my top hat.”