Happy Dogs Read (reposted from www.open.salon.com)

My neighbor down the street plants a flower she will not water in a clay flowerpot she places next to her curb in the street next to a line of ball hedges — coffee bushes, I think.   A short flower she made herself that brings me to stop, make a U-turn to see the cut foam flower up close, a daisy center, stuck with card paper petals, a note at the center.  The note reads: “Please do not walk your dogs too close to this bush.  It is full of wasps.”

I am shocked to realize I am tearing at the compassion this neighbor has for animals. Neighborhood dogs that start at one house often become hers.  Several times a day she walks her four large well-mannered dogs up and down hills out in front of her body.  There is no struggle, no pulling, no scolding.  For two of Mary’s four dogs, this was not always the case.  Two of the dogs used to be wild, rambunctious, bellowing barkers spending their days behind an adjacent neighbor’s high iron fencing.  Now the dogs are serene. A crew of priests.

Seeing the flowerpot sign, I do not doubt Mary’s content dogs can also read. Maybe this is why they are so mild now.

It gets me to wondering about my assumptions too.  About all the dogs I have assumed cannot read.  How many dogs go about their entire lives happy in an illiterate dog fog.  Happy one minute.  But because they cannot read, stung, limping the next.  Reading, good for people, good for dogs.

I wonder which dogs read, maybe have been reading entire libraries for years? 

Which dogs struggled but put aside their egos through the ABCs, unafraid to ask for directions about reading, about being lost in a text, figured it’s okay to start over again, sound things out and start different the next time.

When I see my neighbor Mary I query her about her sign, try to thank her for lighting a candle for me, for her enlightenment, for enlightening the neighborhood dogs about the wasps.  She just laughs.  Maybe thinking about her crackpot neighbor and her flowerpot sign.  She brushes me off.  The neighborhood is full of them.  Dogs.  Nuts. I imagine she’s thinking.  I drive on. 

Have you read to your dog today?  Now, about them cats…I’m thinking happy cats paint. What do you think?

Image(c) M. Smyth 2012

 

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