So, last week I talked up the pets' flashes of intelligence, which, though real, are not all that praiseworthy, being dedicated to avoiding too much exercise and knocking over the hitherto inaccessible kitchen garbage.
I would love to discuss more examples of their cunning, native wit and shrewd primate-outwitting, but alas, reality intrudes (Don't you hate when that happens? Probably almost as much as the folks who think George W. engineered the 9/11 attacks so he could clamp down on hippies, or the other folks who think Obama is a clever Soviet-by-way-of-Kenya plot finally come home to roost.).
Anyway, the pets are back to their usual form, that is to say, just about as fuzzy in their little brains as they are in their lavish fur coats.
Cooper, the hyperactive, poultry-murdering border collie, kicked it off with a display of goofiness almost grandiose in its complete imbecility.
Like all good farmers committed to returning nutrients to the earth (which sounds pretty New Age, I admit, but we don't wear patchouli oil or eat our placentas), we have a compost pile, onto which the nonmeat food detritus goes, along with two kinds of manure, the grass clippings and coffee grounds (which makes for some zippy earthworms.).
Of course the dogs, the ever-optimistic Paltry Posse, always check this out and dig around in what we've recently buried there, hoping that a stray pork chop or morsel of grass-fed beefsteak will have wandered into our detritus. Just before our morning walk the other day, Cooper foraged up a fairly substantial pattypan squash that had gone sort of blue, and for some reason was convinced that it was a trophy worthy of extensive pride and display.
He carried the thing, his jaws expanded to dire wolf proportions, through our entire 30-minute walk, lording it over the other dogs as if the thing — a decaying vegetable, after all — were some immense trophy of his hunting prowess, like half a moose or the business end of an anachronistic T. rex.
He growled if the other pups got too close, capered around shaking the object of his glory, and generally behaved like a fool until I was overcome with such a fit of giggles that I had to stop and wait for it to pass, then wipe my eyes before I could see to continue.
The next day, he sniffed at the thing, having left it carefully concealed in a bush for future reference, but there was the scent of skunk in the air and Cooper has declared a vendetta against the species after a humiliating incident last year, so the pattypan is slowly rotting away, its moment of regard fading quickly into the past.
I had expected better of Rhys, our spunky rescued corgi.
A bit of background will make it easier to understand why his behavior this week was so ridiculous (We call this suspense-building “foreshadowing” in the writing game. It's a cheap, shoddy trick, but it was old-fashioned in Dickens' day.).
We got Rhys through a corgi rescue group (via my sister-in-law the vet, Dr. Aunt Kathy) that picked him up from a shelter in Roanoke, Va., which picked him up from the streets, where, judging by his later behavior, he made a living alternately snapping up the slower members of the rodent and bird families, and using his weapons-grade corgi cuteness to cozen hapless passersby into giving him pizza crusts and the odd burger scrap.
When he came to us, he was skeletally thin, and so grateful for regular meals and lavish loving that it was kind of sad.
Now, though, he's decided he's fat enough (he looks like an overstuffed bratwurst or a balloon animal) that he can afford to get picky about his wet food dinner garnish, spurning the lamb and rice variety.
I've tried to reason with him, but he seems to know I won't really leave him in a dumpster somewhere, so beef stew with peas and barley it is.