55. Lessons for Lily

Dear Tera,

I haven’t seen you around much this summer.  I’ve been at the health spa for several weeks. 

I know I’m going to be treated to the spa when I see Alpha packing suitcases.  If he packs for himself only, then just a day or two at the spa.  If he packs the Pup’s suitcase as well, I’m in for a longer visit.  Two suitcases with lots of underwear, and I know I’m away for an extended vacation.

I’ve been to the spa so many times now that I know many of the other regulars.  Between playtimes in the running pens, we all hang out in our own cages in a big air conditioned room.  And then the day comes when I get a bath and I know that Alpha will return soon.  I don’t like baths, generally, but I’ve come to regard this end-of-spa bath as an important ritual. 

The food at the spa is good, but not plentiful.  In fact, the humanoids seem to take on a mission to get my weight down, and they succeed remarkably well. 

Okay, so maybe I’m putting too fine a line on it.  Maybe it’s not a health spa, exactly, but a fat farm.  But I tell you, my young friend, it works.  I come out of the place as slim and trim as I remember being as a young girl. 

And listen, dear, at my age, you need every advantage you can get.  You are such a sweet and docile young dog, always ready to show your belly to an elder, but not all the girls in the neighbourhood have your polite manners.

Maybe you’ve seen me walking in Windsor Park with my new companion, Lily.  She’s a very bright dog, certainly -- part German shepherd, part border collie, which puts her pretty high in the IQ range. But she has a lot to learn.

Alpha tries to teach her some manners: how to walk without pulling on the leash; how to walk beside him without a leash.  How not to jump up on humanoid pups; how not to yank her humanoid across the street by the leash whenever she wants to bark at another dog.  The old sit-stay-okay routine.  The usual.  She catches on pretty fast.

And I try to teach her a few things as well.  When Alpha left us in the backyard, she seemed content to wait around on the deck in the shade of the juniper tree.  I showed her that it’s much more fun to find a place to crawl under the fence, and trot around to the front yard. 

Once we’re free, I sit and relax on the front porch and watch the traffic go by, but Lily becomes giddy with liberty.  She wants to greet the passing cars, or trot across Riverdale Avenue to Windsor Park.  And before too long, there’s a fuss and flurry of neighbours, and our yard privileges are curtailed altogether.

But there is one area where I have not yet managed to teach Lily any manners at all.  She is a shameless hussy when it comes to the opposite sex.  And it is high time that I taught her that her youth, exuberance and (I admit it) beauty are no match for that certain savoir faire that comes from being a dog of a certain age.

You’ve met Murphy, no doubt, hanging out at Starbucks many mornings in his un-neutered splendour.  American...Staffordshire...Bull...Terrier.  Each word designed to pump the adrenalin, and put them all together, they spell hunk.  As the younger pups would say, AMurphy’s really hot!@

Yes, Murphy can teach an old dog new tricks, I’m sure.  He certainly makes me feel like going for a good gallop around the trees.  I trot up to him and feel years younger.  I forget about my arthritis, and pounce down on my forelegs in the Alet’s play@ position.  Murphy wags that cute stubby tail of his, and makes my heart go pitta-pat.

And then that Lily shows up.  How disgusting it is to see the younger dogs flaunt themselves in such a manner.  She steps lightly with her forepaws high.  She wags her tail in an unseemly fashion B far too much hip rotation for the proper comportment.  When she gives him the Alet’s run@ pose, she casts her big brown eyes beseechingly over her withers B a come-hither wither look.  She throws herself at him in a way that is beneath the dignity of a refined dog of mature experience.

I thought I would eventually have to teach her a lesson in the traditional way.  But raising one’s hackles and baring one’s teeth at this insolent slip of a girl would not be the best way to impress Murphy with my superior classiness and charm.

But now I have returned from the spa, I’m back to my slender girlish form and light on my feet again.  You may not know it, but I was quite an athlete in my day.  The squirrels scampered up the trees as soon as they knew I was in the park, and there wasn’t a humanoid that could kick a tennis ball past me.  A few weeks at the spa, and I’m restored, and ready to impress Murphy with my slim, trim form. 

If he has any discernment whatsoever, he will turn up his nose at the vulgar antics of that younger generation.  If he is as fine a dog as I think, he will prefer quality and wisdom that comes from a dog that is well into her prime of life.

Looking forward to my next sniff with Big Murph,