Yes. It’s true I have – no that was the wrong way to put it – I personally am owned by the BEST dog in the world. His name is Beatty, as in Warren Beatty. For all you younger readers, Warren Beatty was a movie star, considered to be hot back in the day and I hate having to explain that.
A miniature schnauzer who is not so much a terrier as a “terrierist,” Beatty sometimes rules with an iron paw – for instance, when I invite him to come into the house from the backyard, I can see the little wheels turning in his head – is there a treat involved in doing this? Am I in the right mood to do so?
I do not regard Beatty as having split personalities so much as being many different dogs in one. This can be handy. Or not.
There is OCD Dog who licks and licks anything and everything in his path. Faces, arms, hands, a favored quilt. No doubt any burglar who might ever visit us.
Hedonist Dog likes to be patted, rubbed or touched anywhere on his body – tummy, head, back, legs, neck, eyeballs, you-name-it.
Cat Dog has gravitas and conveys to me, that yes he loves me but on, of course, his terms. Once after four weeks out of the country, we went to pick Beatty up at Auntie Tricia’s and after a brief greeting, Cat Dog resumed whatever he’d been doing. My husband stopped laughing long enough to try to console me.
Official Dog is In Charge. He marches, little nails clicking on the floor, to check on the backyard (no rabbits, excellent!), the front window (who is that walking down street?), his food bowl (empty? really?) his Dad (good, in his office, exactly where he should be) and his Mom (in her study writing yes, but she needs to stop that right now and get me a treat.)
Staring Down Dog not to be confused with Down Dog (when he’s out of sorts) or Doga Dog (when he is doing his morning stretches) is the John Wayne of Beatty’s personalities. He can look you right in the eye, partner, for a long, long time. And you will almost always blink or if in a gunfight draw your pistol, before he does. Then he will mow you down. With dog kisses.
There is Exorcist Dog, who seldom appears. If another dog picks on and on and on him to the point that I myself am ready to bite, Beatty can shift from Mild Mannered Clark Kent into Exorcist in ten seconds, exhibiting more teeth than seems possible, growling and charging and scaring the dog s—t out of the other dog. One day at the dog park some years ago, Beatty was minding his own business when a large dog began using him like a piece of exercise equipment. The big dog was jumping over him back and forth – once, twice, three times, four. On the fifth jump Beatty reached up and with little terrier teeth attached himself to the big dog’s belly fur and hung on for dear life. The big dog (wimp) ran around the grass whining and vainly attempting to shake him off until Beatty chose to let go, picked himself up and pranced off in another direction. The big dog avoided him thereafter.
As Tummy Rub dog Beatty is at his most charming. This is usually late at night or quite early in the morning when he is too sleepy to be stubborn. It is hard to admit to you here that Tummy Rub dog actually has a Tummy Rub Song that is sung to him while he is lolling next to me on his back, paws and ears up, looking his most adorable.
I am happy to be owned by the BEST dog in the world, who allows me to play with him and feed him and take him for walks and then curls up next to me when we are taking a nap in the afternoon, his head nestled into my neck and sends me into bliss.
But even as I write this I suspect you think you have the best dog in the world.
And you would be absolutely right.
Thank goodness there are enough best dogs to go around.
E. J. Gore is author of “French Lessons, The Art of Living and Loving Well!” Available at Back of Beyond Books.