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A dog day afternoon is exhausting

January 30, 2002

A dog day afternoon is exhausting



A dog, people say, is a constant companion.

And they say it like that's a good thing.

Which it normally is, I grant you, unless you are highly diseased and laid up in bed and turning your neck 30 degrees to the left takes the energy normally associated with carrying three bags of cement to Poland.

Jake Biscuit was extra excited, because he assumed I had stayed home last week expressly to be with him. And when I say "extra excited," you will realize that this is not easy since he is a Jack Russell terrier and to think of a Jack Russell as "extra" anything is a frightening prospect indeed. Like saying that last week Enron was "extra deceitful."

Occasionally Jake will slow down to the speed of nuclear fission, but that doesn't happen often. He can outrun a squirrel, outdig a mole, outjump a cat and outwhine Mary Matalin. (Counsel for the defense Andrea objects, saying that he may be high strung, but as Jack Russells go, he's really rather restrained. Objection admittedly sustained).

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Jake is very cute, as Andrea always points out when he has committed some atrocity that transgresses the bounds of what a reasonable man should have to endure. And he is. And of course we love each other dearly. Usually.

Each day he greets me when I get home from work by shoving a ball into the sensitive area just below the kneecap. (He's not very big - white with a brown head and tail with a white stripe running down the length of his nose). And he won't rest until I have taken him outside and thrown the ball for him an estimated 50 million times. But does this tire him out? Oh no. This is for a warmup. He has many other items on his agenda for which he demands an accomplice - and if I fail as a co-conspirator and dare to want to go in the house and lie down, he has a standing army of vocal persuasion tactics including, but not limited to, yelp, cry, whine, yip and out-and-out shriek.

So anyway, all of this I can pretty much deal with on a normal day - but as mentioned, last week was not normal. At every turn of consciousness, there he would be, ball in mouth, hopefully shoving it up at the bed (I could never let my hand carelessly fall over the edge of the bed for it would be immediately and enthusiastically slimed).

As I said, he is so cute and with those big brown eyes of his looking up at me like the hungry eyes of a small, dirty-faced child in some Dickens tale, it is very hard to say no.

It is also very useless to say no. While cute and friendly, he is not the brightest dog in the world (counselor for the defense Andrea objects, saying he is really a very smart dog. Objection conclusively overruled) and to him, "no" is a word that he must equate with "by all means, Jake, I will comply to your every demand post haste."

Jake in fact knows two words, exactly: "Ball" and "Bath." Utter the former, he will jump out of his skin. Utter the latter and he will disappear for about two minutes until his little 3-horsepower brain forgets that you said it. He has a vague, theoretical idea of the word "come." And, bless his heart, he does try. Say "Jake, come" and he will stop what he's doing, tilt his head quizzically and search the memory banks of the old bean like he just knows that the word has some relevance, but for the life of him he can't bring to bear what it is.

So last week, my defenses were left to this. Every so often I would rasp the word "bath'' and then try to drift off for a couple of minutes until he came back more eager than before.

But he was cheerful, and last week I needed all the cheerful I could get. Jake Biscuit. I think we'll keep him.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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