Sunday, October 2, 2011

Small-dog syndrome

There's this dog that lives across the street from my parents' house, and as far as he is concerned, he owns the entire street.

His name is Pickles. Despite being named after bottles of stink, he has a pretty high opinion of himself.

He can usually be found at his post in the neighbor's carport; safe in the shade, but in clear view of everything that happens on Cortez Drive. Every now and then he will do his inspection of the block, barking at every leaf and bug that offends him. More than once, we have approached the stop sign just down the street from our house, only to find that Pickles is sprawled out in the middle of the road as if he's trying to remind everyone that this is his road, and that he will only let us by if it pleases his fancy. If someone threatens to run him over, that is a risk he is willing to take.

Of course, every time Tyrel runs at him like a wild man, Pickles scampers, barking that terrified, high-pitched yelp. Without fail though, he will always reappear a few minutes later, safe at his post, and bark for several minutes, as if he spent his time in hiding coming up with a brilliant comeback that explains why he scampered.

Today between conference sessions, I decided to be active and move out to the porch to sit rather than continue sitting on the couch while the between-session documentaries were going on, and to my delight, Pickles was just returning from his bi-hourly inspection of the block. I decided to engage him in a staring contest to see how his ego could take it.

He didn't respond well.

The minute I stepped outside, his focus was on me. He continued to stare at me as he walked, causing him to walk sideways and his tiny legs to get tangled up in each other. He made it safely back to his house, but he stayed on the edge of the street and barked and howled like he was being severely abused. After about five minutes or so, he got so exhausted that he had to lie down. He stopped barking for a while, and he even tried to ignore me, but his gaze kept flickering back to me as if I were a huge annoyance that he just couldn't get rid of. Just to make things interesting, I flapped my arms in the air for no reason, which caused him to jump up in the air and resume his barking, highly affronted that I would have the gall to do something so unexpected without his permission.

That 15-minute staring match that involved a lot of laughing on my part and a lot of barking on the part of a tiny, ego-centric dog, finally ended when Pickles slowly backed into his corner, glaring at me (he may have even stuck his tongue out at me), letting me know that he wasn't going to go without a fight. He returned to his place with his haughty tail high in the air, and I was able to continue my peaceful observation of nature during the most beautiful time of year at my most favorite place in the world.

Pickles is never going to forgive me for this. However, two can play this game.

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