By Rheta Grimsley Johnson
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – When I walk the dogs in this town, I’m glad my grandfather isn’t alive to see.
My dogs are country dogs, used to following their noses into the woods and through the branch and to the supper dish. They haven’t often been led about on leashes or clipped to look like show dogs or cleaned up after when they do what comes naturally – and often.
That last part is the part I’m glad my grandfather cannot see. I’m sure he’d make terrible fun of humans, this human in particular, picking up dog poop and carrying it home in a plastic bag. Who is more evolved, after all, man or dog?
I’ve been trying to follow the city rules. Each morning I walk Boozoo and Hank on their leashes about a mile to a city park. They trot alongside their step-sister Hannah, who is more used to city living and has better manners.
It’s true there are park signs saying you must keep your dog on its leash. But in the early morning there are never any other people there, or dogs, for that matter. And you can tell many others haven’t been following all the rules, either, as you step gingerly to avoid messing up your shoes.
So, at the park, I let my country bumpkins off their leashes and enjoy seeing them frolic and act like normal self-respecting dogs. I watch carefully, at the ready to restrain if necessary.
This morning I wasn’t careful enough. Boozoo was barking, sitting under a tree that he hoped held a squirrel. Hank was beside me, sniffing the ground.
Before I knew what was happening, Hank was off like the proverbial shot, headed toward a man who appeared to be water-skiing. The stranger was being pulled across the park by two brutes as big as miniature ponies.
Hank introduced himself.
What ensued wasn’t pretty. Hank is a game little animal. After the snarling dogs made it clear he wasn’t welcome, Hank ran toward me, but then changed his mind. He decided he wouldn’t let the insults stand. He ran back toward the man, who now was snarling, too.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I called, running with Hank’s leash toward the melee.
“You idiot,” the man yelled. That was the nicest thing he uttered in a torrent of dog-cussing that would have embarrassed Samuel L. Jackson.
I had been prepared to offer a sincere apology and tell him how my dogs had just fallen off the turnip truck and gradually were getting used to being confined all day and all night, which isn’t natural but, I understand, is necessary in a place where there are so many humans and canines.
But then the man called me a word usually reserved for dogs, the female ones, with modifier attached. I decided he didn’t deserve an explanation or an apology or even to own two ugly, mean dogs.
Maybe, with any luck, some conscientious city person will come along, scoop him up, put him in a plastic bag and haul him home for proper disposal.
Syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson lives near Iuka. Contact her at Iuka, MS 38852.