It’s a dog’s life – literally – for Barkley
Of Cabbages and Kings
Hi, my name is Barkley. I’m a black lab. That’s my baby picture you’re looking at. You know how mothers are. They’re always showing off their kid’s baby pictures. This woman isn’t really my mother, but she thinks she is, so I just go along with it.
I’ll soon be 6 years old. I had a brother a long time ago. His name was Brady. We sure had fun together. We took lots of trips, visiting the neighbors, sampling their garbage, bringing some home. Then one day Brady was gone. I heard somebody say he went to live with a retired farmer who had a pickup. Well, good for you, Brady. All I have is the back seat of a car. My pretend mother always spreads an old blanket over the seat so I won’t get dirty. About the only time I get to visit Cheney is when I have to see the veterinarian.
Almost every morning my pretend mother puts her fingers into the loop of my leash and off we go down the road. I like to stop often to smell all the goodies alongside the road. There are messages from horses, elk and deer, rabbits, birds and coyotes. Once in a while I dive into a snow bank and start to dig for a mouse. I’ve found a few. My pretend mother doesn’t much like it when I try to lick her face after I’ve found a mouse. I’ve discovered the hard way that women don’t like doggie kisses all the time.
My pretend mother and I have had a few arguments. I weigh 70 pounds and sometimes as we’re walking along, suddenly I’ll veer off, give a quick jerk of the leash, which pulls it away from her fingers and I dive under the neighbor’s barbed wire fence. I look back at my pretend mother with a ha-ha grin and off I go. One time I did that and I heard her say, “OK, Barkley, I’m going home by myself!” I could tell she was angry. I watched her turn toward home. I went around the back way and beat her there.
I have made myself useful by barking at coyotes at night. When Brady was with me we would tune up together. His voice was changing. You could tell he would be a baritone. One night I made myself hoarse by barking a long time about midnight. My pretend mother opened the door in her housecoat and slippers and scolded me. I think you could see smoke coming out her ears. Several months ago, however, I made an awful fuss. My pretend mother rushed out the door with her big flashlight and pointed it right in the face of a coyote standing by our yard. We both told that coyote to get off our property, and this time my pretend mother praised me for being so brave and forceful.
I’ve heard my pretend mother tell several people that I love to swim in the pond but I don’t like to get wet when it rains. That puzzles her. I feel the same about snow. I like to roll around and scratch my back in the snow when it’s several inches deep. Now, the snow is beginning to go away. I’m a fastidious dog. My pretend mother often tells me I’m a good girl. Good girls don’t scratch their backs in the mud. Besides, it’s time for my dinner. See you later.
Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.