Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 6:14 PM on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is Howard in a huff over LB's fancy new flasher? Stay tuned



By NICK C. VARNEY

I love writing this column especially because I get so much fascinating scatological feedback from peeps convinced that there's a certain philosophical skew to its content.

That's not true, of course. But it does tend to twist certain minds into such knots that they're convinced that my brief tomes should be issued only as Post-It Notes to be plastered on outhouse walls.

I, of course, prefer more enlightened responses containing awesome shots of humor at Unhinged Alaska that I can steal from later.

This month I've been traveling along an unusual subject path trying to explain how totally different dogs are able to happily cohabit for years and then suddenly stop acknowledging the existence of each other.

Little Bear, our 13-year-old toy poodle, has decided that no other creature has any relevance unless it brings food, acts as an automatic door opener and/or is the alpha female, A.K.A., my wife.

This 'tude has nuclearly ticked off our senior mutt, Howard.

He, for a better use of a word, could give a $#*^ less what she thinks or does now because he's older, lazier and gets winded chewing his food.

The situation really hasn't been all that bothersome until they want to complete their outside duties.

Howard, as a rule, always accompanied the mini-mutt on her excursions.

That was a good thing.

Now he just lies by the stove like a hairy stack of kindling when she heads for the exit — thus, she no longer has a bodyguard.

This is a bad thing.

With him along I've never had to worry about other creatures disturbing her ablutions. His size and fusty breath alone guaranteed her acres of free roaming.

But no more. Now, she requires a humanoid in close proximity.

I didn't realize how close until this morning.

Around dawn, when the raptors aren't up and cruising for a snack, I usually just stand on the deck and watch her piddle about near the stairs or sweep snow while she's busy.

Today the paper arrived early.

Just after I went to retrieve it, she decided to take an unapproved trek to the back yard via sneaking under two vehicles and around a cord of firewood.

When I turned around, Little Bear was missing.

At first, I wasn't that concerned because we had just installed a miniature flasher on the back of her chest harness making her easy to spot when she was in line-of-sight.

Just as I set out on a search and scold mission, I spotted the red, white and blue strobe headed back from the area of the smokehouse.

I couldn't quite see her dark gray bod, but the beacon looked cool until I noticed a shadowy apparition following her. It was a moose plodding along behind Little Bear like she had it on a leash. The ungulate was nose down and sniffing the diminutive creature's rear end akin to some curious dog. The poodle acted as if she was clueless that the old cow was there or that she couldn't care less.

With her mind-set lately, I'll go with the latter.

Anyway, the bizarre procession continued until it neared my truck and the moose spotted me frozen on the deck. She stared up with an inquiring look as if to say "Is this thing yours? If so, what's with the light show? By the way, jerk, this is the last time I'm acting as an escort service. My dork offspring could have inadvertently turned her into poodle paste."

Sure enough two yearlings stepped out of the gloom.

Point made, mama.

Now if I can only get the canines on sniffing terms again.

Jane thinks maybe I should pull in the big guns and reach out to readers who might have special insights into our curs' obvious avoidance of each other. But I'm thinking that they're just going through a crusty curmudgeon phase that elderly long-time partners sometimes experience.

In fact, it reminds me when Wild Willie and his ancient milk goat, Curdle, suddenly started butting heads last spring.

It became so bad that Willie ended up taking an ineloquent, but impressive, belly flop into a gully full of nettles after Curdle blindsided him.

The ill-fated conflict ended suddenly when Willie decided to change the cantankerous animal's name to "Stew."

Maybe the answer lies within the definition of Occam's Razor. It goes something like this, "The simplest solution tends to be the correct one." If so, it may be that Howard has a basic case of jealousy over Little Bear's new flashy battery-run bling.

Come to think of it, she has developed a bit of a stylin' prance when we let her out in the dark. I never considered Howard because he's as easy to detect as a backhoe in a NASCAR race.

I'll have a talk with him. If it turns out he's in a huff about her innovative tiny safety strobe I'll see what I can do about acquiring an aircraft landing light to hang around his neck. If that doesn't do it, I'm open for suggestions.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.

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