Friday, June 11, 2010

Welcome to Life is For the Dogs

Life is built on a few easy principals. You are born, you get an education, you work, you retire, and you pass on. This is the basic road map we all follow. Each person has a set of goals they develop along the way, and our success in life is generally measured by how well we stick to the plan.

Along the windy road through life, we are faced with decisions and crossroads which formulate how the rest of life will play out. The decisions and choices on which path to follow has an impact on which decisions or paths we will be forced to choose from later, and those choices impact the next and so on. Choice of education dictates choices for employment, choices for employment dictate how hard we work and how well we are compensated.

Society has allowed us the luxury of deciding what we are working towards, even though in reality, we are all working to keep society intact. Some choose to work towards early retirement, others towards accumulating the finer things in life, and some choose to work for the benefit of others. In my case, I work to support dogs, retired race dogs to be more specific.

Mickey and Cy are a pair of racing greyhounds which have found their way from the racing track to our home. They each had somewhat impressive racing careers until younger more eager dogs moved in and forced them out of contention. We decided that having retired racers as pets would be a unique and special experience, not fully understanding that eventually we would become subservient to a life form with much higher intelligence and much more sophistication then we possess.

Our life now revolves around serving the dogs. From the moment I wake in the morning to the moment I fall asleep in the evening, every action, every decision, and every conversation includes the dogs. I work to afford food and medical care for the dogs. I work to provide the dogs with shelter, heated and cooled according to season. I make beds in the morning so that dogs can unmake them. I work to provide pillows on those beds which dogs can fluff and scratch at until perfectly suited for lounging. High end couches and love seats are provided for evening relaxation while watching TV, specially selected to ensure the fabric is comfortable yet easily cleaned of dog hair. Blankets are placed on floors strategically throughout the house to provide soft comfort should any dog decide to stoop to floor lounging which is generally frowned upon by retired racing dogs. Even the vehicle I drive was purposely chosen to provide maximum comfort and viewing options for the dogs. It is large and hard on fuel, but the fold-down rear seats allow easy access to hanging heads out of windows so that gallons of drool can stream down the sides and splash back onto the rear window forcing near daily trips to the car wash. 

Blankets are washed, carpets are vacuumed, and floors are swept on a daily basis to keep the fur balls that accumulate from building larger than basketball size and unable to fit into a standard sized trash bag. Yards are raked daily to prevent the accumulation of undesirable deposits. Dogs are bathed, dogs are walked, dogs are brushed, nails are trimmed, and teeth are cleaned. Treats are dolled out on demand and food is served, wet mixed with dry until the perfect Greyhound approved texture is reached.  All the while, the creatures who receive this treatment laze around rising from one spot of luxury only to find another, never contributing to lowering the workload, or offering to somehow increase the gross income of the household.

Saturday morning I had to run a few errands, and on the way out noticed that we were low on dog food. Our hounds snub regular ordinary off the shelf food, and must eat special, only sold in the store as far away and as difficult to get to as possible, food. It also seems that their enjoyment of food is somehow directly related to the cost, and the more I pay per container, the more they are willing to eat. Even the preferred brand bought on sale will cause the hounds to half-heartedly sniff the bowl and walk away.

After fighting traffic congestion, road construction, two trains, a three alarm fire which had 14 city blocks closed off, and a collision involving a circus caravan and three elderly nuns driving a short bus, I finally arrive at the pet food supply store. As usual, I forgo the normal shopping buggy (BLOG NOTE: in Alabama, shopping carts are called buggies. If you call it a shopping cart, you are simply pointing out the fact that you are an arrogant Yankee and have no business being in the South) for the flat four wheeled utility cart normally used to move heavy equipment in an industrial environment, and find our hounds’ choice of food. I start piling on bag after bag which pretty soon starts to resemble a sand bag levy wall used to stop the mighty Mississippi River from spilling over her banks. Eventually, the pile of dog food bags reaches a height where I can’t physically reach any higher to pile more on, which is my clue that I am ready to check out. I get in line with the other proud pet owners who are staring and gawking at the impossibly large number of bags piled on the cart I am desperately struggling to move, and await my turn to contribute to the store owner’s child education fund.

“Hello Mr. Filby,” says the store owner, “Nice to see you today. That will be $421,26.” As I pay the man and turn to leave, he wishes me a good day and says “See you next week.” I unload the bags from the cart to the hound mobile, wind and weave my way back through the impossibly bad traffic snarls to our home, and as the final rays of sun peak down below the foothills for the evening, finally lug the last of the food bags from the hound mobile to the garage.

As I walk in to the house, take off my shoes and hobble my way to the easy chair, my island of rest in a sea of dog related chores, the wife says, “Well, it’s about time you got home. You need to bring some dog food in from the garage. Your dogs are starving!!” The hound mobile is in the garage. I could fire that up, drive off and never look back. Honestly, I could..