Workin’ Dog or Hardly Workin’?
To own a working dog can be appealing, especially for families that tend to wander aimlessly across the landscape in large, unmanageable herds.
However, the term “working dog” is misleading. It describes a show dog bred for a particular appearance, but also any canine that performs specific tasks and belongs to a powerful, politically connected union, such as the Amalgamated Bra and Sock Chewers International.
Energetic, intelligent, purpose-driven, working dogs are revered by owners, yet despised by other breeds who jealously gossip about them during study hall instead of doing their Spanish. Working dogs are the prom kings of the Canine species in much the way prom kings are the prom kings of the human species, if that makes sense. And there’s no reason it should.
“Bunch’a showoffs!” sneer other breeds. “How hard is it to chase sheep? They’re those big, fluffy, white things, right? Taste like lamb? I could learn to do that. I taught myself to pee on the same tree every day. Every day!”
Working dogs cannot help but achieve. Hardwired into their genetic code are powerful instincts to herd, retrieve, guard, telemarket, and properly fill out loan applications.
Along with the well-known Border Collie and Old English Sheepdog, true working group breeds include:
- Jack Shit Terrier
- Black Sabot
- Corrugated Snip
- Miniature Lunchable
- Solicitor General
- Blue Tic Tac
- Petite Balsamic
- Waxy Residue (pronounced “rey-SID-you”)
Setting the bar high for working dogs is Piper, the border collie who protects a Michigan airport by chasing birds off runways. Piper’s devotion to duty and heroic stature have made him a media sensation despite his unwillingness to endorse a presidential candidate. Although a working dog and natural herder, Piper required specialized training to clear runways, as well as eye goggles, ear protectors, and an American flag-emblazoned body harness that make him eligible for membership in The Avengers.
While not all canines are working dogs like Piper, every dog needs a job to stimulate the mind, keep trim and healthy, and hold economic stagnation in check.
The job of Budleigh, our terrier thing, is to kill flies. No one asked him to. He just assigned himself the task, like that guy at work who cleans out the refrigerator in the break room and leaves angry Post-its on the microwave: “Please clean up after killing your flies!”
Killing flies is a big deal in our house, and not because we’re filthy. Our formerly alive terrier, Oxford, was terrified of flies. Spotting one buzzing on a window, he’d flee upstairs and hide under the bed linens until the first killing frost.
When Budleigh first encountered a fly on the window he tracked it, eyes huge, until I swatted it and missed. Then he exploded in a predatory frenzy, banging at the glass, snapping the air, and glaring at me.
“Seriously? We can kill those? Why wasn’t I told?”
The self-appointed job of Brisby, Nature’s Perfect Schnoodle, is to police Budleigh’s predatory frenzies. He enters the scene with all the authority and swagger of John Cleese as the Monty Python police constable.
BUDLEIGH: (Flinging himself at bay window) “Why wasn’t I told? WHY WASN’T I TOLD?”
BRISBY: (Pushing in front of Budleigh) “Here, now! What’s all this then?”
BUDLEIGH: “There’s a buzzy thing! We’re in terrible danger!”
BRISBY: (Studies his paw, Budleigh’s ear, the carpet, his groin, everything but the fly.) “Nothin’ to see here. Show’s over. Move along. Move along.”
BUDLEIGH: (Leaping at window) “Look!”
BRISBY: (Really studying groin) “No, all seems to be in order.”
Fly circles Brisby head, lands on his snout.
BRISBY: “Why, there’s a buzzy thing here.”
BUDLEIGH: “He has a gun!”
BRISBY: “Must be a very small gun.”
BUDLEIGH: “Let me disarm him! Let me disarm him until he’s dead!”
BRISBY: “Now, let’s all just settle down and start acting like true working dogs. First, go get me a pair of goggles, some ear protectors, a body harness, and an American flag.”
Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.
Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj
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