Friday, August 31, 2012

The Final Push of Summer

My childhood friend Jeff had a Black Labrador named Ace. Ace was what you called a big-boned pooch, probably pushing 140 pounds. He had a healthy appetite, and would come barreling into the kitchen as soon as he heard the plunking of dog food into the bowl. He was a very fast eater. He'd inhale that food, snarfing and coughing it down, only to chase it with a half minute of slurping from his water bowl. Then, with drool slopping from his jowls onto the linoleum, he'd sweep the kitchen perimeter to find tidbits of snacks that had been missed by the broom:  potato chip crumbs, cracker fragments, a macaroni noodle or random grape, etc...

When the family was away, Ace would help himself to whatever was within reach. Once, he got into the garbage and devoured the shells of four large lobsters. When the garbage was secured, they'd come home to find an empty plastic wonder bread sack in the middle of the family room. When a loaf of bread wasn't in reach, he'd go to the next best thing: baking flour. One time they came home to find Ace covered in a gluten mess of sticky flour paste. Jeff said the kitchen looked like a hand grenade had exploded inside a five pound bag of flour.

But Ace's signature was his pooping. It made sense. I mean, what went in must come out. In the case of the baking flour above, Ace was like a bread machine. First, he ballooned up really huge. The family was worried and took him to the vet to make sure that his bowels weren't obstructed. He was fine. Then over the ensuing 24 hours, he squeezed out a roll of dough about every 45 minutes.

But it really wasn't so much his poops, but how he pooped that made him stand out. Ace was basically a showoff. He'd make a big production of his, um, productions. He'd literally wait until others could see him doing his business. He seemed to enjoy it when another dog was in view. Even better, he'd wait until the neighbor was backing down the driveway and then drop a bomb in their yard. Ace like it best when the garbage truck or school bus came by, causing a minor traffic jam. His timing was impeccable.

When the stage was set, it was go time. He'd walk around in circles to tamp down the grass. He'd turn about a dozen times. It didn't matter if the grass was knee deep or freshly cut. For that matter, it didn't even matter if it was grass -- if the occasion was right, he'd poop on the cement sidewalk or street. When he was finished, he make this huge show out of covering his tracks. Many dogs kick dust over their dirt, but Ace took it to the extreme. He'd kick all four legs about five times each, throwing up an enormous cloud of dust in the process.

The turning and tamping, the squatting and then the high dust kicks. You could say that Ace treated his BMs as performance art and the world was his stage.

Anyway, I thought of Ace recently when I saw that Omaha public pools are doing a doggie dip fundraiser for the Nebraska Humane Society.

Ace went to one of those things once. He was on his best behavior with the other dogs for most of the evening. But when the lifegaurd blew the final whistle, it was showtime. Ace made a trail of wet paw prints to the patch of dry cement directly in front of the exit. As the pool guests and their dogs started heading towards the gate, Ace had already begun turning his circles. At least 50 guests and their dogs had gathered when he began to squat. As I said, his timing was impeccable.

Some say they could see Ace smiling as he made that final push of summer.

Happy Labor Day everyone.

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