Monday, November 21, 2005

ETC: Born Freeeeeee... as the wiiiind bloooooooows.

With all this talk about books and babies, I don't think I've even once told you about my dog, Dobbs (or as we like to call him since young Master Sam came along, Ol' Whatshisname). This is a travesty that must be amended immediately.

That's him up there. A bit of a free spirit, as you can tell. His full name is Fred C. Dobbs, after Humphrey Bogart's character in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre ("Nobody messes with Fred C. Dobbs, see!"), and if you haven't seen this movie yet, you should, because it's great. Ever wonder where the lines "Say buddy, can you stake a fellow American to a meal?" and "Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!" came from? Look no further.

But I digress. How unlike me.

Dobbs is of a breed known in its country of origin's native tongue as "Cao de Agua," which we believe is Portuguese for "curly-haired, spazzy, high-strung-but-charming pain in the neck who likes to eat cat poop and sleep in the middle of the bed." I know, that seems like too many words, but you know how economical foreign languages are.

Apparently, he's a distant cousin to the poodle, but he denies this vehemently.Because of his distinctive appearance (large-ish, stocky, curly-haired, with a majestic plume of a tail), he frequently hears the question, "What kind of dog is THAT?" Sometimes we tell the truth, but we've also been known to claim he is a Goof Poodle, a Curly-Coated Stinkhound, and a Rotti-Poo (a Rottweiler-poodle cross that was bred as an attack dog for people with allergies).

Despite the fact that his people were bred f
or working in the water, Dobbs does not swim. Oh, he knows how, and he loves the water. He just chooses not to. Even when bribed with raw weiners.

If he were to swim, his powerful tail would act as a rudder. Instead, he chooses to use this power to sweep the surfaces of low tables and stools. This is a shortlist of items his tail has knocked off/over: water bottles, full cans of beer, hardcover books, remote controls, sandwiches, and small children.

Dobbs has been perfectly housebroken since he was three months old... except for one notable incident: Unbeknowst to us, he ate an entire serving bowl full of Halloween chocolate. When it didn't agree with him, he thought that eating some other dog's poo would settle his stomach. It didn't. When we returned after being out for a couple of hours, we found the entire living room, front hall, and stairway strafed in a redolent mixture of cheap-chocolate-scented diarrhea and poo-scented vomit. Well, not the entire area. Just the carpeted and upholstered parts.

Dobbs's pet peeve is people who don't know the correct placement of the possessive apostrophe on names that end in the letter S.

He prances when he's in the right mood. Absolute strangers will point this out. "He's prancing," they'll marvel as he sashays past them. Because he's a dog and not a person, he thinks this is a compliment.

If you make your hand into a gun, point it at him, and yell, "BANG! BANG!" Dobbs will drop and roll over, but you'd better make sure you have a treat in that other hand. He won't attack you or anything as d
éclassé as that, but you will find yourself on the receiving end of one of the longest, most accusatory stares you've ever experienced.

Dobbs would probably get away with sneakily eating the cats' food more often if he didn't always leave his toy as evidence right next to the food dish.

He once ate a friend's plane ticket. That was awkward.

If you came to our house, this is how Dobbs would greet you: run to the door ahead of us, jump up on you repeatedly while we futilely say, "Dobbs, down!" over and over, run into the living room to let anyone there know you are here, try to take advantage of the mayhem to wolf down any snacks that might be on the coffee table, race back to the front hall, jump on you again, race into the kitchen and let anyone there know you're here, excitedly nibble a cat's ear in passing, fetch a toy and race back to the front hall again to show it to you. (Note that he is NOT trying to give you the toy. Any attempt on your part to agreeably take it will be countered with Dobbs walking backward down the hallway with unnerving speed.) You will finally get to take off your coat. We will all go to the living room to sit down and commence the visit proper, whereby Dobbs will do one final meet-and-greet victory lap of the room, then throw himself down with a loud "Humph!" on his bed and wait for us to amuse him.

Dobbs is a lover of mankind, a respecter of cats, and a friend to dogs. Unless said dogs do not recognize his alpha-ness. Then he will kick their ass. It's nothing personal, but if we don't maintain these class systems, what do we have? Anarchy. And the only anarchy Dobbs likes is that of his own devise.

Despite the fact that his breed is noted for its incredibly loud, piercing bark, Dobbs politely refrains from barking, something we've always appreciated. Especially that time someone broke into our house while we were sleeping and stole our laptop.

If Dobbs were on Jeopardy, these would be his dream categories:

Poops I Have Eaten
Why Any Attention Is Good Attention
Smelly Things I Have Rolled In
Strangers' Bums I Have Sniffed
Bad Haircuts I Have Endured
Me Me Me Me and Also Me
Every time we're watching TV and we see a dog living outside in a doghouse, either Rusty or I will suggest to Dobbs that he might really enjoy the independence of having his own place. He stares back at us with a deadpan expression from his cushy sheepskin bed, and we all laugh and laugh.

Speaking of TV, Dobbs has made two appearances on the tube, the most notable one as guest host of an episode of this show. During taping, he got a chance to work briefly with Canada Now anchor Ian Hanomansing and thought he seemed like a pretty nice guy. Dobbs laments the fact that there are so few roles for black dogs on television.

Dobbs really likes children. Mostly because they smell like cookies.

If you're an attractive female, watch out. Unless you like the sensation of a dog's nose wedged firmly and confidently in your crotch.

Speaking of crotches, if you are male, expect Dobbs to land at least one good blow with his paw to your manly parts. By now, this move is so patented that we've given it a name: The Crotch-Hammer. As in, "Oh god, I'm so sorry! You just got Crotch-Hammered. Would you like to lie down?"

Dobbs is very, very, very smart, but he would prefer that this secret not get out. It's his way of dodging high expectations. And he knows how to spell "B-O-N-E" and "W-A-L-K" so don't think you're pulling the wool over his eyes.

He's sweet and goofy and affectionate and demanding and high-energy and sometimes an all-around royal pain in the butt, but he makes us laugh every day and he's been remarkably patient about the fact that he's been somewhat usurped by a small, hairless interloper.

Most of all, he's what you call a plain old good dog. That's Dobbs.


Tammy said...

Dobbs just read this entry over my shoulder. He thinks it was too short.

Anonymous said...

Dogs rule! Cats also.

Tamara said...

I would be one of those people asking what kind of dog he was. I've never seen such a beast. (And I say that with the utmost respect.)

Anonymous said...

OMG! That was one of your funniest entries ever! Your play-by-play of a visitors arrival had me in stitches!
He's a cutie!

Tammy said...

Dogs and cats do rule! Rats also, but I'm not allowed to have them.

Heh, Tamara, I would've been in the same boat as you before we got Dobbs. My husband was the one who discovered the breed... online of course. He emailed me the link to the breed description on the CKC site and was all "I've found the perfect dog for us! It's a Portuguese water dog!" And I'm like, "A Portu-whoozits what dog?"

And hey, thanks, Steph! That's so nice of you to say. I had a ridiculously fun time writing it and actually had to make myself stop, so I left out stuff like the fact that he has webbed toes and blue skin (for real!), and that he has his own sleeping bag for camping trips, and that he has a tattoo and an identity microchip AND dogtags because we're so anal about him getting lost... this despite the fact that I can count on two hands the number of times he's been more than three feet from my ankles in his entire life.

Ah, Korie, I'd been wondering what you've been up to, since your site hasn't been updated for a couple of weeks. I'll check out your new URL. I tried a test migration of my site to Typepad a while back and gave up because my formatting got slightly gibbled in the transition. Not a lot, but just enough to bug me.

Anyway. I hear you on the baby = less computer time issue, especially now that Sam's naptimes are shorter. Oh well. He's getting to be a lot more entertaining when he's awake, so I can live with the trade-off.

Em said...

For three years we've been trying to figure out my dog's genetic heritage, as she was born n' bred in a truckyard with no known father. She looks very much like something between your Portugese water dog or a German wirehaired pointer, with a bit of chocolate lab and pitbull from her mum's side thrown in. Not that the pitbull ever makes itself evident, ever. Coward, she is.

Tammy said...

Ha! For you, Antipodean, I can let LOL pass. You're on the shortlist of people who can pull it off.

Every so often I go back to that Sam post, too, because those pictures crack me up every single time.

And yup, Dobbs can walk backward. Really quickly, too. It's how he gets out of tight places, or walks away when he still wants to keep an eye on you. The mister taught him the word "Scram!" which, roughly translated, means "Get the hell away from my sandwich!" When Dobbs hears this, he walks backward because it's the fastest way for him to get away and indicate that, no sir, he was not after the sandwich and it was merely a coincidence that his nose was resting on the plate.

Portuguese water dogs are great. Every home should be required by law to have one. The world would be a happier place.

Knatolee said...

Dobbs is a most handsome boy, and I especially love the first photo of him running on the beach. You're lucky to have each other. :)

Very nice blog!

Anonymous said...

Great article; very funny and accurate. We have a 9-month old portie, and it's amazing how consistent the personality traits are with this breed. Maybe it's just our 'type 1' dog, but it's worth noting the energy level and stamina these dogs have. We religiously walk Diego 3-5 miles/day, plus have 1.5 acres fenced in for him to romp in. Certainly not for everyone, unless you have lots of time and space.

Jeane said...

This is hilarious! I loved reading your descriptions of Dobbs. He sounds like a great pooch (very in touch with his doggie nature).

Unknown said...

I found your blog while searching to find out more about porti sleeping habits. Mine likes to sleep till 9am. He loves to party! You can see a few of his puppy videos at but as of this writing he's 2 1/2 years old. I get the same questions about what kind of dog he is, and when I have his porti buddy over and we're walking in Sausalito they are tourist attractions.

Erin Gabrysz said...

What a wonderful post! They are so full of personality!!!

Erin Gabrysz