Dexter a.k.a. The Dood—-June 2008-April 2019

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The Dude and the Dex, love at first sight

The first time we laid eyes on The Dood, he was running around a farmyard with 11 of his siblings, fuzzy balls of fur with fat round stomachs and surplus puppy energy, oblivious to the aggravation their antics presented their harried Mom.

Both parents were Golden Doodles, crosses between Golden Retrievers and Standard Poodles. Eight weeks after giving birth, Mom was low-slung and suffering the indignities of a dozen hungry mouths pulling on her teats but Dad was showing no ill affects from the responsibilities of fatherhood.

He was an impressive animal, about 85 pounds with long legs and a tawny coat of curls that feathered out to give him a regal look. I walked Dad out to the back of the property to check The Dood’s lineage. He pulled hard on the leash but settled into my pace when I yanked it back  harder.

We picked The Dood out of the impossibly cute puppy rumble mostly because of his sex. We wanted a male.

After a stop at the Vet for shots and deworming (his tummy was fat for a reason) we dropped him at a dog training facility to learn proper toilet etiquette before we picked him up a week later to start our new life in the South Okanagan. The training stuck. For the remainder of his life he would not walk out a door before a human or poop in the yard or on a trail or path. We called him Dexter, not after tv’s serial killer but because it was a name the Dame had always liked for a pet.

Dexter took to his new home like a prince to his kingdom. We moved to a cul de sac at the lake with dog-friendly neighbours, no traffic and a field next door. He had the run of the place, rough-housing with the Boxer across the street, dragging shoes home from porches (did I mention our neighbourhood is dog friendly) and prancing proudly up the driveway with a deer hoof clamped in his teeth.

He had so much energy the older Boxer would tire of wrestling and send him on his way with a snap and a guttural doggie rebuke. Dexter didn’t take offense. He simply came back home, his face covered in Boxer spittle, and ran around the yard like a demented doodle.

He grew into the image of his Dad, only leaner with tighter curls and a lighter coat. A chick magnet of the first order.

Dexter became the star attraction everywhere he went. Women and young girls fawned over him at every public outing; men appreciated the effect he had on women and the fact he was a dog’s dog, not some yappy little runt with an attitude. Walking through the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning was like taking a stroll with a furry four-legged George Clooney.  His love of exercise never waned, even in the foulest weather.

The Dood was not a haughty dog. He accepted attention with enthusiasm, leaning into the legs of strangers as if they were lifelong friends. He never met a person he didn’t like. All visitors to our home were greeted with boundless enthusiasm. He barked with reticence, a single sharp signal to let us know he wanted out or that his water dish was empty. Any increase in tempo alerted us to company.

Above all, Dexter possessed a constancy of disposition.

From the high energy of puppyhood to the infirmity of old age, we never once saw him display bad temper or aggression towards another being. When our first cat Nigel clipped him on the nose with a sharp jab delivered from his fortress under the kitchen chair, The Dood took his lumps with equanimity. When a mother deer decided he was too close to her fawn, The Dood took the hint and turned tail for home without so much as a growl. When visiting dogs decided his food bowl was a community affair, The Dood stepped back and let them eat their fill. Later in life, when a crotchety response would have been forgiven, he demurred to the new cat Molly when she began to hog his bed. The Dood simply rousted himself and moved to a nearby rug.

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If you want the bed I can move..

 

Before you tune out, tired of the maudlin ramblings of a grieving owner who envisions his departed best friend as the canine Mother Theresa, I should say that The Dood displayed the same annoying behaviours that have infuriated dog owners since the first wolf was domesticated.

He could hear the word ‘cookie’ whispered from 50 yards away but if it suited was deaf to his own name hollered from 10 paces. Later in life, after falling in with a bad companion, a pitbull cross with a wanderlust who moved in next door, he began to roam away from the cul de sac and could not be trusted to return from his nightly pee outings without going on lengthy and worrisome nocturnal walkabouts. On garbage day, he’d slink away from the yard at the first sign of inattention and rummage through neighbourhood garbage cans, the soggy contents of which would have to be bagged and put back, even in dog friendly neighbourhoods. He was like walking Velcro and tracked dirt and sand into the house constantly. He tore up stuffed animals, dug holes in the yard and trashed the lawn. He smelled bad after swimming in the lake. He required constant attention and ran up large bills at the vet.

Dexter ‘The Dood’ left this world just short of his 11th birthday, the gentlest of god’s creatures, taking with him a big piece of our hearts.

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Our handsome boy…forever loved

 

 

Four washings and a Fido

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Most campgrounds will have this* *(camping chairs, wood and beer not included)

After almost two months of meandering it’s time for a word about campgrounds or as some bill themselves—‘camping resort.’ When I think of a resort swim-up bars, spa facilities and all-you-can-eat buffets come to mind. But I digress.

There is a certain “sameness” to RV parks: trees, gravel roads, washroom facilities, playground areas, miniature golf (usually a sad collection of tattered windmills and soggy Astroturf fairways) and if you’re lucky laundry facilities.

Of all the things I will never take for granted again, my beloved washer and dryer tops the list. The days of casually wearing jeans one day and washing them the next are gone. The only clothing that doesn’t get multiple wear is underwear. (Clean underwear, unforeseen accident, hospitals, you know the drill).

Laundry on the road has a certain rhythm to it – essentially, once the tote bag is full to bursting laundry day has arrived.

It takes cunning to do laundry at a campsite. You are competing against full-timers and family groups who have accumulated enough laundry to outfit the cast of The Sound of Music (musical reference thrown in for Brother #2). The objective is to land the triple-loader, other-wise known as laundry mecca. That bad boy can handle the contents of your tote bag in one wash cycle. Current record for start to finish on laundry day – 58 minutes, top that Martha from site 52!

Some campgrounds have stores which stock camping essentials; junk food, firewood and the fixin’s for a batch of s’mores, a big ‘ol bite of deliciousness consisting of a fire-roasted marshmallow tucked in between two graham crackers with a piece of chocolate (Hershey’s preferably) and stuffed into your gaping maw.

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RCMP hot on their trail, Debbie and Chester race for the exits

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After a quick blow dry and comb-out these competitors are ready to take on the world

What most campgrounds don’t have are dog shows. Picture the Westminster Kennel club dropped in the middle of rural Kingston complete with obstacle course, show-rings and prep tent in case Fido needs a quick wash, blow-dry or nail trim.

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It’s vague resemblance to an Oscar Meyer wiener convinces Desmond to finish the tubular course

Showing a dog involves a lot of waiting, nervously eying up the competition (human and canine) followed by running around a show ring, followed by you and others running around show ring at the same time, followed by a judge who inexplicably fondles the dog’s muzzle, ears and… ahem… private parts, particularly disturbing when it’s the turn of our neighbours’ 150 pound Mastiff with bowling ball sized testicles.

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I swear to god you rearrange my balls one more time, I’m outta here

Dog shows are the United Nations of the dog world. Breeds range from tiny Bichons to exotic Afghans to mighty Mastiffs. The Dog, always the first in line for a how-do-you-do-bum-sniff was haughtily rebuffed by his canine betters as we walked the grounds after a refreshing dip in the Rideau Canal. Apparently these pampered pets don’t mix with their civilian counterparts or partake in plebeian activities such as swimming or playing.

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Coco DO NOT pee on the obstacle poles!

The Dog’s addendum

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Rejected by show organizers for his inferior lineage, The Dog leaves the show grounds with his tail between his legs

Sheesh. What a humbling experience. Listening to the Dame and pretend Dude ooh and aah over these poofty pooches really hurts.

“Look at this one’s ears…ooh.

“Look at that one over there with the beautiful coat…aah.”

It’s enough to put me off my dog cookies. And my game.

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Did you guys see the Golden Doodle from BC, What a loser!

At first I thought the four dogs next door would be good for a few tail wags, maybe a quick bum sniff. I didn’t know doggy crap about bull mastiffs. Then the big guy turned his back and flashed the aforementioned ‘bowling balls.’ Talk about feeling inadequate. I can’t even ‘grow a pair.’

I wasn’t given a choice. ‘Chop, chop’ and ‘you’ll never know what you missed.’

Thanks, Dame and pretend Dude. Thanks a lot.

Meanwhile, I have to suffer a parade of pretenders strutting past the campsite, turning their noses up as they amble past without a sideways glance. None of the geezers pay any attention to me, now. All the focus is on these freaks.

One particularly ridiculous poser looks like a cross between a mountain lion and a sheepdog.

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Banned from the show, The Dog takes solace with his bird friends

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Dexter’s mind doodles

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Slouching away the miles in relative comfort leaves the real ‘Dood’ plenty of pondering time. And what better to ponder than the foibles of my two traveling companions—the pretend Dude and the Dame.

The thing I find most annoying in the magnification of 24/7 exposure is the way they use me to talk to each other. They don’t seem to get that I only know 3 human words; Dexter, cookie and walk, I choose to ignore the other ones that mean I’m in trouble.

“Dexter, go see pops. He’ll get your dinner this time; take you for a pee this time, yada yada.”

Or “Dexter, I can’t help it if pops is a bad dog owner.”

And what does pops reply?

“Dexter likes me better.”

And so it goes on. And on. And on. I mean, why bring me into their petty squabbles why not do what me and my pals do, work it out with a quick roll in the grass, a few chest bunts, fake snarls and it’s all good.

The Dame should know better on this the 16th year of their marriage. We all know the pretend Duke is narcissistic and totally untrainable. I found that out even as a puppy. And I was a cute puppy, as some of you will remember, all curly and cuddly. Even so, I had to work my life around his schedule.

The Dame? Now that’s a different story. I knew I had her at first bark. Pretty soon she was opening the door on signal whenever I wanted to lift my leg in the orchard. It didn’t take long before I could get her total attention anytime I wanted. I even started sticking my wet nose in her face in the morning to wake her up for my morning stroll. I think she liked it.

Art Linklater had it right when he said people are funny. Or was that the balding guy from Candid Camera. Whatever, they’re both before my time.

When I go for my daily pee strolls with the Dame I can pretty much do as I please. Walk on either side, pull on the leash. It takes maybe four or five real annoyances before the Dame gets harsh. That’s something you don’t want to see, trust me on that, so I generally don’t push it too far.

The rare time the pretend Dude takes me for a pee I have to walk on his left side, at his exact pace. We all know the guy’s obsessive but he takes it to the extreme. Speed up or slow down an inch either way and he’s all over me. How stupid is that? I mean, I like the guy, he’s my pops, but we all know he’s out there a bit.

Its common knowledge The Dame is ‘the Queen of small talk’. She talks to me nonstop. Sometimes I’d like to tell her to put a cork in it, especially when she starts talking down to me in that baby talk voice “Dexter’s such a handsome puppy.” “ Is puppy thirsty?” “Poor puppy couldn’t do his business.” It’s hard to do your business when you’ve got the Dame standing there with bag in hand waiting for a treasure to drop.

Think about it. Here I am a large, middle age dog blessed with considerable physical stature, (I turn seven this week if anyone wants to send along a treat.) and she treats me like a baby. And doesn’t she just love it when the poofter dog people in the RV parks comment on my looks. You’d think they were talking about her.

Don’t get me wrong. I love mumsy to bits. She’s my master’s master.

On those infrequent occasions when the pretend Dude takes me on the RV park rounds he makes me do that stupid walking thing. He rarely speaks to anybody along the way and when we get to a sufficiently secluded area he sits on a picnic bench lights a cigar and stares off into the distance. He could care less whether I’m constipated or not. No baby talk from that guy.

Like Allan Funt the balding guy said. (It just came to me, it’s weird what comes to mind if you have enough time to ponder.) People are funny.

P.S. Don’t forget to send along those birthday treats.