Off-leash: An unrestrained dogumentary

How we pay for those doggy idiosyncrasies of ours.

Deer leg? What deer leg?: Boulder caught red-pawed with the freshly pedicured evidence.

Dan Mills

It is early morning and I am not well.  My tongue feels like it is wearing a wool sock, my lower gastrointestinal tract is percolating with foul gasses, and my stomach churns with nausea. I would like to feel sorry for myself but I cannot. You see, my misery is entirely self-induced.

As a dog I am susceptible to some irrational behaviours that stem from the instinctual preferences of my ancestors. Though I have evolved to a point these behaviours are now of little or no benefit to me, I cannot help myself. For example, my current plight is due to the fact that I have ingested the hoof-part of a deer leg that I had found at a cougar kill earlier in the day. Now it would seem to make sense that since the large, hungry cat hadn’t bothered to make a meal of this indigestible part of the deer, that perhaps it was not worth gnawing on. However, some baser part of me just cannot resist hauling these things home and doing just that. And for that recklessness, I am paying the price.

If this act of chewing the toenails off the leg of a dead deer is difficult to rationalize to myself, I can only imagine, gentle reader, how bizarre you humans find it. Then again, there are many doggy doings that confuse you logic-driven two-leggers. For example, our habit of rolling in the feces or on the decomposing carcasses of other animals. Some of you think we do it to hide our own scent or to bring back evidence of where we have been to the pack. Bit of a stretch, don’t you think? How about this; we like the way it smells! We find the earthy, rich, eye-watering stench of it appealing. Which is not something I can say for the stink you humans apply on a daily basis. You dab it behind your ears, you smear it under your arms, heck you gargle with the stuff. As for the rich, green tang of a fresh cow patty being altogether too grotesque for human sensibilities, how about this, the most expensive perfumes you humans use are made from a substance called ambergris which is – wait for it – whale vomit. Google it if you dare.

There are other of dog idiosyncrasies that people find either odd or unappealing or both. Things like how we like to drink out of toilets, eat grass or even how we bath ourselves with our own tongues. However, humanity is not with out its own, difficult to rationalize behaviours. One of my favourites is the human penchant for fermented and/or distilled beverages. Even though they seem to impair that brain you are all so proud of, you hominids continue the practice of ingesting these liquids derived from rotting fruit and grains. This despite the fact that when taken in excess, these concoctions cause you problems with motors skills, communication and often anger management. Then the next morning you wake up feeling like you have ingested one too many deer toenails and that gentle reader, is not a good feeling at all.

I stagger from my dog bed in the early morning dark and try to wake my man in the hope he will let me outside before I make a mess, but the effort is fruitless. He is vibrating his soft pallet at mega-decibal volume and cannot be roused.

With a now increasing sense of urgency I bolt for the backdoor but with no opposable thumb, I cannot grasp the doorknob. There is no escaping either the house or the shame.

When my man rises in the morning he will find, there on the “Welcome” mat, the unwelcome remains of an undigested deer hoof and not far away, a guilty dog with a look in his eyes that seems to say, “I promise I won’t ever touch another deer leg again. I swear”

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