Dancing With Dogs

“You guys have been pretty quiet today,” I told Cleo and Titus as we drove to the park. I knew at once — well, after four seconds or so — that that was a strange thing to say, because Cleo and Titus are dogs.

Yeah, I talk to my dogs. I sing to them and dance with them, and for them, and hug and kiss them and sleep with them.

Is there anything wrong with that?

Cleo and Titus are the only human beings — OK, I know they’re dogs — who have kept me alive during this pandemic. And I ain’t exaggerating.

Titus and Cleo at home.

Denver has a great off-leash dog park, which I have written about before. Its south parking lot is 11¼ miles from my front door.

On the way there, we sing along with Bob Dylan, or sing old Beatles songs, unaccompanied.

You don’t need to sing along with Beatles songs. They’re a link in DNA.

OK, all right. Cleo and Titus don’t sing along. They’re youngsters. Generation DogZ. Whatever.

However — for the record — Cleo does speak up when it comes to big trucks.

Cleo hates big trucks. I don’t know why, and when I ask her she does not respond, on advice of her attorney, I suppose. But ever’ time we pass a big truck, or a big truck passes us, Cleo leaps to the window and gives that truck a piece of her mind.

“Woof!” she says. “Woof woof! Take that, big truck!” Cleo says.

I support her on this.

“Good dog, Cleo,” I say. “You tell ‘em.”

When she’s not barking at trucks, Cleo might lean her big square heavy head on my left shoulder. And that, my friends, is about all that’s kept me alive during this pandemic.

I know she’s a dumb beast. Titus is way smarter than Cleo. But something about Cleo’s big head on my shoulder keeps me alive.

Cleo and Titus are both “rescues:” The Dumb Friends League in Castle Rock rescued them from kill shelters in Texas. Cleo was a street dog. She has scars around her eyes, and after I adopted her, she’d startle and wake up if I touched her as I passed.

Now she don’t mind if I touch her, even when she’s asleep. I consider this a victory, and it makes my heart glad, most ever’ day.

Cleo and Titus stage mock battles in the living room while I’m trying to put out this page. It sounds horrible: snarls and thumps and ever thang.

I love to hear it.

Dogs are so much better than men.

I ain’t saying that dogs are better than women.

But dogs are better than men.

Cleo and Titus know that their pretend fights are just for fun. They don’t care who wins or loses. They ain’t no way to win nor lose. It’s a game.

Dogs wanna play. And they ain’t too many ways of playing on Planet Earth, for men, that don’t involve winning or losing.

Women have way more, and better, ways of playing than men do. But that’s a subject for another column, and I ain’t qualified to do it.

But Cleo, bless her heart, plays by men’s rules. Cause that’s the world she was born into.

And as I said, I will back her up all the way down the line.

Bark at those big trucks, Cleo. They deserve it. I’m on your side.

I ain’t quite sure why, though. Maybe it’s because a big truck never nuzzled me in the night.

And I hope won’t never. Not with Cleo by my side, anyway. You can bet on that.

(Robert Kahn learned grammar from his Opa, who was born in Louisiana. “You see, Robert, Southerners speak two languages, English and obscene …)

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