“I’m a BEAR!!!!”
"Fido, you are not a bear, you big red lug. You are a dog.”
“Not today I’m not,” he sang. “I’m a big red bear is what I am! A little girl said I was, so I am! Oh, finally, my dream has come true!”
Fido got up on his hind feet and did a little jig.
“Ursus americanus,” he cried. “That-eus is me-us! A true blue Canis Ursus Familiaris-americanus!
“Fido, are you going Gladiator on me?”
I reached into my hip pocket for my Latin handbook, and a handkerchief to wipe the sweat from my brow and to hear another crazy tale from Fido.
“Tell me what you know, Fido,” I said.
“I was down by the creek, just doing nothing at all and thinking nothing at all, and I heard this tromp-tromp-tromp.”
“There were four or five of them. A family.”
“So I thought I’d amble on over and say hello. You never know who’s carrying a spare Milk Bone, is what I say.”
To be fair to the little girl, Fido does not amble. He more or less half lunges—out of exuberance, really. On top of that, Fido presents some very definite ursine features. He has a distinctive snub-nose, for example, that sits square in the middle of a round face. You’d never, ever mistake Fido for a collie or a greyhound.
His ears are top of his big head. They don’t flop over, and even when he’s asleep (a lot), he gives the appearance of being fully on alert.
Then there is the tail. Fido’s tail was docked even before he got to the Whitmore Shelter, which is where I met him on that fateful January day back in the here and gone. He has a tail like a bear tail. No question. He also snorts.
“Yes,” I said. “Snortus familiaris.”
“You always said you liked that!”
“No judgment here, Fido, my good man. To my ears, your snorts are Heavenly whispers. To others, though, not so much.”
“Do bears snort?”
“They’re the best snorters in the world.”
I thumbed through my Latin dictionary.
“Snortus humungous,” I said to Fido, making it up as I went along.
Just about then, the aforementioned family rounded the bend, hiking poles in hand. The family stopped short, and the man eyeballed me with suspicion.”
“I hear that you and Fido have met already,” I said, tipping my hat.
“Why yes,” the man said. “How’d you know?”
“Fido told me.”
At my feet, Fido grinned.
“My daughter thought he was a bear but I told her it was just some old dog, and that he had tags and an I.D. and that all he wanted to do was play.”
“Well, that’s ol’ Fido for you,” I said, and Fido assumed a proud, stately countenance.
“I am,” Fido announced, “a true-blue, Canis Ursus Familiaris-americanus! Hey hey hey hey!”
The little girl looked at Fido. She was wary.
“What did he just say?” she asked her father.
“Nothing,” the man said. “All I heard were a few snorts and four barks.”