The dumbest dumb beast

Kevin Cowherd

April 16, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

It seems unfair somehow that with all the other burdens forced on me in this life, I'm also saddled with the world's %J dumbest dog.

Understand, I love the dog with all my heart. He is a wonderful little fellow, very affectionate, a great companion and so on.

Nevertheless, it has become abundantly clear that the dog is not very bright.

In fact, there is every reason to suspect the dog has some sort of learning disability.

Look, I read all these studies about how intelligent dogs are supposed to be, how they grade out higher in IQ than cats, canaries or ponies.

Then I look at my dog. And what I see is the doggy version of an eighth-grade dropout.

I see a dog that might as well be hanging out in a pool hall, running numbers and walking around with a pack of Salems rolled up in one sleeve.

In order to understand just how dim-witted the dog is, you need to know the basic topography of my back yard.

If you're into visualization, picture a back yard with nothing in it except: a) grass and b) one small pine tree.

In other words, when I tie the dog out there on a rope, he has a wide open expanse in which to roam. He can run in any direction his little heart desires.

I'm telling you, most dogs would kill for this kind of freedom.

Most dogs, you'd tie them out there and they'd think: "Hot damn! I can go over here . . . or over there . . . or . . . gosh this is great!"

But apparently my dog thinks -- if that's the word -- a little differently than other dogs.

Because every time I tie my dog out there, he makes a bee-line for the pine tree.

Then he proceeds to sprint around the tree a few times, until the rope is hopelessly tangled and he's unable to move.

Then he sits there with a vacant expression until I come out and untangle him, which I'm forced to do every, oh, five minutes or so.

Now, you would think after the first 50 or 100 times of wrapping himself around this tree, the dog would wise up.

You'd think he'd say to himself: "OK, I don't know what it is about that stupid tree. But every time I go over there, something bad happens. All of a sudden, I . . . I can't move. So I'm not going over there anymore."

But my dog displays no such clarity of thought.

My dog apparently looks at the tree and figures: "Sure I've gotten tangled up the last 100 times. But hell, it can't happen again! I mean . . . if you think about it, what are the odds?"

Then there's the matter of all the security the dog fails to provide.

When we first bought the dog, I thought he might turn out to be a good watchdog.

I say this because the dog barks all the time. He barks at me. He barks at my wife. He barks at my kids. He barks at the neighbors.

But when a stranger comes to the house, the dog doesn't bark at all. It's unbelievable. It's like the dog thinks: "Uh-oh, this could be trouble. This guy might be firing up a chain saw any minute now. I better be quiet, try to get on his good side."

Give you an example: The other day, I'm in the back yard reading the newspaper. It is a rare moment of relaxation. The dog is with me.

All of a sudden, three guys come walking around the corner -- three guys I've never seen in my life.

Naturally, the dog doesn't bark. He's staring right at these three guys. Doesn't say a word.

And these three guys, they're not exactly your basic Chamber of Commerce types, if you catch my drift. All three of them have long hair and heavy-duty tattoos and that pale, just-out-of-Leavenworth look.

Now I look over at the dog again and he . . . he's wagging his tail!

Finally one of the guys -- medium height, gaunt, haunted eyes -- picture Manson: The Early Years -- says they're with the phone company, here to dig a new line.

Look, the dog only weighs seven pounds. So it's not like I expect him to leap for the throats of these guys to protect me.

It's not like I want him thinking "Save yourself!" and then holding these guys off until the cops show up.

But a bark or two would be nice. I don't think that's asking too much of your dog.

You give a dog food, water, a place to sleep, a couple of neat plastic toys . . . the least he can do is let you know when you're about to get whacked.

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