Erma Bombeck, humor columnist and author of books like “The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank,” published the following column in 1971. I imagine this is how my non-Border Collie owning friends feel when I play the proud papa and brag about my dogs. It’s also amazing how little things have changed in this regard in 40 years with dressed up dogs as fashion accessories and child replacements.
My dog, Harry, has a problem. He is the only dog in our block who is a dog.
All his other canine friends are next-to-humans who wear little sweaters, watch their weight and are literally members of families.
They have high IQs and do extraordinary things. This is making my dog neurotic.
The other day at card club I watched him sadly as the women discussed their favorite topic: Super Dogs.
“Did you read where a dog in Michigan walked 300 miles through snowcovered roads to get back to his original owners?” asked a woman. (I cringed. Only last week Harry cut through a hedge to go to the bathroom on our neighbor’s lawn and had to have the police bring him home.)
“My Flossie is smarter than that,” said her companion. “She wants outside the supermarket and directs the carry-out boy to our car WITH THE KEYS IN HER MOUTH FOR THE TRUNK.”
“It’s the same with Gus,” said a tall blonde. “Believe me, I couldn’t hold down a job if Gus couldn’t unlock the sliding glass door and let himself out every day at 1:30.”
“And miss ‘As the World Turns?’” piped another voice, “Why, my Miriam wouldn’t miss it. That little cutie sits there and watches TV like she understands everything that is going on.”
“I’ve got something cuter than that.” interrupted another proud mother. “Do you remember the Lassie episode where Lassie puts out a forest fire, saves a herd of sheep, rescues a small boy from a mountain lion and saves a town by putting a rope around it and dragging it away from a landslide?
“Well, our Chip is the one who barked and alerted Lassie to the danger.”
“Tell me,” said Flossie’s mother, “What do you do when your dog won’t eat bones? I can’t get Flossie to eat anything except strawberry parfait and baked lasagna. Is that wild?”
“Which reminds me,” said another volunteer, “I’m giving a birthday party next week for Gus. I think he suspects. He heard me talking on the phone.”
There was a pause then, “Tell us about Harry. What does he do?”
I looked at Harry sitting in a fetal position by the door, a minibrain with tangled fur and bad breath and said, “Yesterday, he caught a mole and ate it.”
“How disgusting,” said a woman. “That sounds so . . . animal!”
I had the feeling that I just blew another birthday party for Harry.
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