Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Dog Days Of Summer

So it's summer, and Mrs. Owl, the Owlet and I are staying at the parentals for a spell. We're so far from civilization that running water is a perk, and running water without lethal microbes is a luxury. Where you can be lulled to sleep by either the gentle chirping of crickets or the last strums of a banjo as the home made hooch takes hold. We're in the furthest suburb from the city; so naturally it has debilitating air quality, long parking lots that closely resemble roads (and are, when it's not rush hour) and subdivisions as far as the eye can see. Where strip malls and large car dealers scar the land; a 'compact' car is any truck under 350 horsepower; mesh hats with "Big Foot" emblazoned on the front have been worn since 1985, and always, non-ironically. And where yes, the hallmark of mullet culture, the mid-70's camaro, is found in the wild, and often.

    Ah, hometowns. Can't live in them, can't reasonably deny you were ever there. But I do appreciate some aspects of life here. There are no buskers, panhandlers, or hipsters. There are no SUVs driven by people who don't actually go off-road (if you have an offroad vehicle, your extra suspension and genuines off-road tires lets everyone know that you like to play in the mud). No suburban yokels ripping up the streets for their 'night on the town'. Since, well, this is the home of the suburban yokels.

    There is nothing particularly trendy or cool about this town. Nothing 'hip' or 'hot'. Certainly nothing 'sustainable' or 'eco-friendly'. It's a mess of neighbourhoods connected by institutions that keep the whole town running: supermarkets, malls, and multi-chain restaurant franchises. And in each neighbourhood are thousands of houses where a family can actually afford a living unit that has *gasp* a backyard; and with that, the inevitable pet.

    For my parents, that pet is an American Staffordshire Terrier. A dog somewhat related to the pit bull, except nicer, and with larger jaws.

    Now, I have nothing against dogs (quite the opposite), even the 'evil attack' dogs. As long as they are well enough away from me and mine.

    There are a few things that make me want to keep distance. Many of the people who are attracted to said dogs want them for a symbol of machismo. "Look at me, I have a pet that can rip the throat from a lioness running at full speed!" "Look! I'm just like those rappers and their 'dawgs' showing off their 'bling' and 'sick rides'." Not all owners are like that of course. Indeed, the true lovers of those breeds are vehemently against negligent owners. But even given that, I just feel awkward around dogs that instill in one not the cuddle instinct, but the Flight or Flight response. Or more accurately, the Flight or Flight Faster response.

    Don't get me wrong, my parent's dog is nice enough, friendly, a touch energetic, but a good dog by all accounts. But there is something about it's raw power. Like it could win a towing race against a 18 wheeler and win by a large margin. And then there are the jaws. Always smiling, always chilling out, but damn, are they ever big. I'm talking 'eat a small child and have room for a cantaloupe' big.

    This creates a bit of conflict for me. Because I know a dog is only as good as its owner. A dogs behaviour, for the most part, is not really its fault. Neither is its breed. But there is nothing that can quell that primitive primate brain. That screams "run away! For god's sake man, RUN THE HELL AWAY" when I see the dog run towards me, maybe for a game of fetch, maybe for the last game of 'Tear Out The Jugular' I'll ever play. There is no quelling the urge to cower and sniffle like a child. Which, I suppose, makes it fortunate that we're in the town of my childhood.


The Nighthawk said...

So yeah, our situation yet again seems to resemble each other, as right now my wife and I are in our temporary basement suite of my friends' house, who own, count 'em, TWO Pit Bulls to go along with their newborn.

And the dogs are just like your parents' dog. Wonderfully trained, well tempered, tail-wagging, please-don't-rip-my-throat-out-cuz-I-have-no-defense-against-you dogs.

The bonus for me is, I've known both since they were puppies, and they know I rank above them in the pack and I can push them around at will. So it's okay, until I push once too far. ;-)

Niteowl said...

Wow, that's crazy. We live doppelganger lives! They have two of them? Nuts! Remember to keep giving them treats! If they see you as the Treat Provider, there will be little doubt as to who the alpha dog is.

Funka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Funka said...

So, what are the rules, exactly, for Tear Out The Jugular? How does one play; I am intrigued! How does one win this game? Is it the first to tear out the other's jugular, or is the winner the first to *avoid* said act??

Niteowl said...

The rules to Tear Out the Jugular are shrouded in secrecy. Either you get them very very fast, or you're dead.