My dog Sif came home with cow slobber on her head again. This has become a regular occurrence, and I am not at all comfortable with it. She doesn’t seem to mind, though. She trots down the driveway with a big grin on her face, tongue hanging low as she pants and tries to catch her breath. Sif is not supposed to leave the property, by the way, but try telling her that.
She has fun on these excursions to the cow pasture, it seems. I know I wouldn’t. All those round bovine eyes staring up at you. All I can imagine when I see them is the cow’s eyeball I dissected in middle school, the gelatinous liquid that oozes out when you slice it open. And cows slobber something terrible, as evidenced by the goo covering my dog’s head when she comes home. Sif must run right up to them and stand under their dumb, open mouths. I can just imagine her standing there trying in vain to get pets from a cow, slobber dripping onto her head as she waits for some attention.
When my dog comes home from these visits to the cow pasture, she stinks. More than usual. She is usually caked in a mixture of mud and cow poop and who knows what else. Dogs love to be stinky, I’ve learned that. If Sif finds something ripe and smelly, she will gleefully rub her neck and face in it until she has acquired a robust, musky stench. Then she’ll lie down on her bed and revel in it. It’s very embarrassing for me when she does this with my dirty underwear. She drags it out of the laundry room, drops it in the middle of the living room floor, and rubs her neck all over it. And does she put my underwear back in the laundry room when she’s done with this disgusting display? No, she does not. I have to do that myself while she’s passed out on her bed, dreaming of slobbering cows.
It’s not all bad having a dog. Besides the smell and the running away and the underwear-dragging habits, Sif also has some good points. She sleeps most of the day, and in a very entertaining way. Sometimes she just flops on her side, but often she will lie on her back with all four legs thrust straight up into the air. And she’ll keep them like that for an hour or more at a stretch. It’s especially funny when visitors are over, because they have never seen another dog do this and they think it’s a riot.
Another good thing about my dog is that she never barks. Or I should say she rarely barks. Most of the time she is silent as a houseplant. But when she’s very excited and wants to play, she’ll let out a bark or two. And if she sees something sinister in the yard—like a coyote—she’ll bark at it until you come take care of the situation. This involves running around in circles yelling, “A coyote! Get the camera! A coyote! A coyote!” Which I guess is like the human equivalent of barking.
And my dog Sif has these sweet, soulful eyes that say you are the best person in the world and if you would only give her a few pets, you would make her life complete. If you get down on the floor next to Sif, she reaches out to rest her paw on your arm. Or your face. She’s not terribly accurate. But that means she wants you to stay there, like she’s giving you a hug. If she were smaller, she would probably be curled up in my lap most of the time. Sif is a snuggler at heart, but she’s so big that conventional snuggling is out of the question. So she has to settle for the paw on the face.
Sif recently rediscovered her inner hunter. Sif is a greyhound who was born and raised on a race track in Florida. I don’t think she was very good at racing—or chasing fake rabbits in a large circle, as it is sometimes called—which is why she was put up for adoption early in her career. Sif never had much of a prey drive when we lived in the city; the urban squirrels of California didn’t give her the time of day. But when we moved out to the country, Sif’s hunting instincts kicked back in, and no squirrel, rabbit, or woodchuck has been safe since. She is once again the unparalleled slayer-of-small-game she was trained to be. Prying a limp squirrel from her mouth and scrubbing blood stains out of the welcome mat are two chores that have become part of my ordinary, work-a-day routine.
Still, I can’t help loving my stinky, slobber-coated, serial killing girl (see soulful eyes and entertaining sleep habits as described above). Perhaps you have a dog like Sif and you know what I mean. She’s a pill and a half, but you can’t imagine your life without her.