Sunday, March 7, 2010

Comes with four paws, like-new condition

Driving into work yesterday (yeah, I know; I have no life-your point is acknowledged), I passed a fellow (I assume; it was early, a bit nippy and lots of outer clothes were called for) taking a dog for a walk. My Uncle Jim divided the canine kingdom into two types, Sooners (those who'd sooner s*it than eat) and dogs. In my (so far) 57 years on this orb, I've had no reason to revisit his position, so I don't know what breed this animal was, except small and hairy.

Actually, it wasn't much of a walk, as the person was carrying the dog. As a parent of two children, I recall when ours were more like lurchers-that's the larval stage preceding toddler where the child stands, wobbly-legged but upright, and the mass and momentum of the body dictate in which direction the tyke heads, with just about no control whatsoever. If you've been a parent, you know the feeling of your heart in your throat as your little one goes down in a heap and you hear that intake of breath as they suck in as much air as their lungs can hold to fuel the scream that sound like an air raid siren in Coventry or Dresden. Of course, you pick your child up-you can barely hear their shrieks until you have them next to your ear.

I don't think the dog was crying so I don't get the point of picking the animal up. It has four legs, a low center of gravity and seems to be designed to traverse the planet using his paws. Heck, Tillman uses a skateboard for crying out loud and doesn't depend on bi-ped power to do much else, I suspect, but open the dog food tins. Don't get me wrong, I'm not angry at the dog-I'm not angry at anyone-but it's against the nature of things, to my mind, to not let natural systems be natural.

Having said that, and invoking the spirit, if not the intellect of Whitman (Walt, not Lowell) and Rousseau (Jean Jacques, not Danielle), I would admit I've tried the 'let nature be nature' argument when the snow falls or when the grass in the yard is need of a machete whack or two to clear a path to the garage. My wife, no less devoted to Rilke than am I to Davies, offers me the 'you had better do' glance in place of her once so welcome 'come hither' look and I realize that being a Sooner isn't just a demarcation of the Animal Kingdom.
-bill kenny

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