SATURDAY’S CHILD – Honey, I’m home
THIS YEAR, 2011, is the Chinese Year of the rabbit, but if I didn’t know better I would think it is the year of the dog. Dog lovers would find nothing strange about that since, for them, every year is the year of the dog while, for me, every day in the past three years has just been another doggone day.
This coincides roughly with the period that my wife and children acquired our first dog, Crix, which is named after the Trini biscuit of choice and then followed this two years later with Crix’s son, Bungee.
If you ask me how this New Year is going, I am so house-trained that I will say, “Ruff! Ruff!” However,
I am the lone voice growling in the wilderness. My 13-year-old daughter Jasmine got, as one of her New Year’s gifts, a “dog” calendar that features a dog for every day of the 365 in the year and which has pride of place on her dresser.
The calendar starts with a dog “partying down” (a little bichon frise in a New Year party hat) and follows with dogs engaged in a variety of activities from writing New Year’s resolutions to playing football.
Speaking of engaged, the most hare-raising item in the news in this the Rabbit year was a story about a young Australian man from the town of Toowoomba, Joseph Guiso, “who tied the knot” on a dog day afternoon with his best friend, a five-year old female Labrador named Honey.
According to media reports, the couple decided to get married when, during an afternoon walk at an area known as Laurel Bank Park, they saw another couple getting married. “I said that could be us,” Mr Guiso said. “She didn’t say anything so I took that as a yes.” Mr. Guiso is also quoted as saying that he is a “religious guy” and could no longer take the guilt of living with Honey out of wedlock. “It’s not sexual,” he assured the onlookers. “It’s just pure love.”
While the reaction to the wedding has been both positive and negative, Guiso claims that the love he and Honey share is a platonic one. “I didn’t set out to offend anyone. This is just about a man and his dog,” he said. Commenting on the first week of his marriage, Guiso confided that it has been going well but like any relationship, it did have its problems.
“I think she’s a bit angry about all the publicity; she’s been giving me the silent treatment,” he said. “Then again, I was hoping the marriage wouldn’t keep me on a short leash.” He could become another dogsbody or write an ode to his bride – which would be doggerel, of course.
It might be coincidental but immediately after the revelation about the marriage, Toowoomba suffered very severe flooding. A report by Michael Collett on Australia’s ABC News states, “At first I was dumbfounded, amused even. Those from Toowoomba would have understood the joke. We’re on a bloody mountain. We don’t do floods. Puddles, occasionally. Well, we do floods now.
On Monday Toowoomba was an already full glass, into which the mad barmaid of the sky kept pouring, pouring, pouring . . . . At most I thought I should be worried about people’s carpets. It didn’t occur to me that I should be worried for their lives.
How little I knew.”
The president of the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce, Geoff McDonald, told the Sydney Morning Herald that there was “still a look of disbelief on a lot of faces,’’ after residents watched couches floating out of stores and shipping containers being carried off
by the torrents. “They were scenes that you would see in a movie,’’ Mr McDonald said.
For those people who believe that floods, especially the one in Toowoomba, represent divine intervention there is a story about the great Johnstown flood in the Pennsylvania, USA, in 1889. A dam broke, over 20 million tons of water came down and more than 2,200 people were killed. There is an anecdote about a reporter, Bob Considine, who was sent to cover the story. He cabled his dramatic introduction to his editor, “God stood on a mountain top here today and surveyed the damage that His floodwaters had wrought.”
His editor, perhaps overwrought, replied, “Forget flood. Interview God.”
Honey, however, was not the only dog which had its day early in the New Year. There was the AFP report about a Border collie named Chaser which knows more than 1 000 words. A study published in the journal Behavioural Processes claims that Chaser has the ability to discern commands from nouns and how to identify toys versus non-toys.
It said, “Her learning and retention of more than 1 000 proper nouns revealed clear evidence of several capacities necessary for learning receptive human language: the ability to discriminate many nouns phonetically, the ability to discriminate many objects visually, a sizable vocabulary, and a sufficient memory system.” In other words Chaser might be brighter than Honey but not necessarily sweeter.
?• Tony Deyal was last seen saying that instead of two pompeks he was thinking of getting a dog that’s half-pit bull and half-golden retriever. She might bite off his leg but he’s sure she will bring it back to him.