ME IN CALIFORNIA BRINGING YOU THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
I have several jobs. My morning job is to bring in the newspaper. After Dad takes me on my first walk of the day, I gobble down my breakfast and tear upstairs. You are already having your coffee. I look longingly at you and you remember it’s time to open the front door and let me sniff the air again. I stand on the porch and smell the day. I find the paper wrapped in green plastic. I pick it up with my teeth and you hold the door for me and race me to the kitchen. If I arrive with the paper intact, I get a treat. If it is torn, sometimes I don’t get a treat. You say Good boy!and give me one of my tiny little pretend-bone treats.
My next job is the mail. Sometime before noon, Tim brings the mail. I hear his car and give you my “let me out” look. I wait at the gate. When Tim sees me, I jump as high as I can jump. I am extraordinary. Tim reaches in his mail pouch and finds my special treats. He hands you the mail and gives me a few treats. He loves me and calls me by name. I know how to work it. You pick out one special piece of mail, hand it to me, and we race to the kitchen again. If the mail is intact, I get a treat. If it’s wrinkled, I usually get a treat anyway. That’s because I keep trying to do better.
That makes four treats for the day so far, and it’s only morning.
Usually, you and I will go for another long walk during the day. You give me treats if I behave. That does not include skateboards or rollerblades. I cannot behave for them. They turn me into a very bad dog, one I don’t even recognize. I return to my primal state, a dog like my predogcessors and my antedogcents…it’s between me and the wheels. I want them to stop making the terrible noise that hurts my delicate ears. I would kill if I could.
My next job is to remind you to feed me when my dinner alarm goes off. It happens between 1:30 and 3:00 pm. It is a loud empty feeling under my ribs. It moves up to my mouth and I begin to salivate. If you aren’t home, I have to wait, but if you are home, I run to you and sit in front of you and look my best. Instead of a treat, I get dinner.
You need a lot of reminders such as the fact that I’m always up for a walk. If there’s nothing to do, I steal one of your shoes and prance around the house. You offer me a treat when I bring it to you. When nice people come to the house, you pay more attention to them than to me so I steal anything of theirs I can find– gloves, shoes, and scarves. If they put all their belongings in the closet, I take the nicest pillow in our house and prance around with that. I still get a treat if I drop it at your feet. I love this game because I am quick, sneaky and funny and I always get a treat.
Unless we have a therapy team gig, I am free for the day. I roll around, perch on the window seat, listen to you play the piano and patrol the surroundings. I do have to let you know if there are people or dogs approaching. My warnings are a low woof, a loud bark, or a rapid succession of barks, depending on the proximity and familiarity of the interloper. (I don’t think I have to remind you I have a big vocabulary because you already know that.)
Next time, readers, I’ll explain my work as a therapy dog. I have a license and degree. When you read about what I do, you’re going to want my job, but that’s okay with me. There’s room for all of us. People need a lot of therapy.
Advice from Oliver: If you do your job, you might get at least four treats per day. It depends on how smart you are. I am very smart.