• Doggone, that smarts!
    October 07,2013

    Ijust learned about a new TV program on CBS called “Lucky Dog.” The show features a gentleman named Brandon McMillan who trains dogs for television, movies and commercials. The premise of the series is that McMillan takes dogs from shelters, trains them, and then finds homes for them, resulting in some truly lucky dogs.

    McMillan begins each episode by visiting animal shelters and interviewing potential dogs for the show. Once he finds one that is a good candidate for instruction, has clean credit and background checks, and is willing to sign an endorsement waiver — McMillan trains the dog and tries to find it a family.

    My issue with “Lucky Dog” is this: There are probably a million dogs in shelters, and McMillan works with one per week. At this rate he is going to be older than Betty White before he gets to all of them. I think Mr. McMillan needs to pick up the pace a bit.

    If it sounds like I am sucking up to the canine community, to be quite honest, I am. I have an ongoing campaign to get these amazing, smart, beautiful creatures to have compassion for me. As much as I enjoy dogs, they enjoy me even more. Unfortunately, they often express their love with their teeth.

    When it comes to canines, I am Rodney Dangerfield. I get no respect. I have been bitten by dogs so many times that when I go for a swim air bubbles come out of my hands and legs.

    The last time my body was used as a human chew toy occurred a few years ago when a “friend” asked me to deliver a few CDs to his house. This buddy was not going to be home, so he suggested I put the music on his porch.

    When I arrived at the house I saw his “friendly” dog in the yard. In hindsight, I should have observed some warning signs such as the fact that the dog was unhitched, or that the soundtrack of “Jaws” was blaring from his doghouse as he sat and gnawed on a tire rim. Naïve as I was I went up to the porch anyway, dropped off the package and started to return to my car. At this point the dog positioned himself next to the vehicle, bared his teeth and did a quick transformation from Lassie to Cujo. Something told me he wasn’t waiting to be complimented for his wonderful flossing habits.

    We all handle stressful situations differently. For some reason known only to the ghost of Lorne Greene and my hairdresser, as I stared into the fiery eyes of my adversary I couldn’t think of what to do, so I started singing the theme music to “Jeopardy” in a loud voice. (I’ll take multiple puncture wounds for $50, Alex.) Whether the dog didn’t like game shows or my questionable singing talents remains unclear; what is certain is that my reaction to his threat pushed the animal over the edge, and he lunged at me with open mandibles.

    Thinking quickly, I turned my back to the dog, and he got a mouthful of my derriere. Fortunately, I was able to shake my booty, and when he let go I dove into the car. Astonished and bleeding, I went home to tend to my injuries.

    The greatest humiliation came when I related this incident to my friend and he said that the dog, which was 91 years old in dog years, had never bitten anyone in his life. It was sort of like telling someone you just got back from the senior center where you had gotten pummeled by a pacifist geriatric.

    For years I have been resigned to the fact that I must look like a 165-pound biscuit to dogs. While doing research on the “Lucky Dog” program I discovered some interesting news. Apparently I’m not the only person in the world whom mutts have been enjoying as an appetizer. More than 1 million people are bitten by dogs annually, and bite wounds account for 1 percent of all emergency room admissions, costing approximately $30 million in annual health care.

    We need to ask ourselves why these dogs are so angry. Is it because we feed them the exact same food every day? Because we install doorknobs out of their reach? Because we never let them surf the Internet without supervision? It could be a combination of things. Whatever the reasons for their pent-up aggression, we should make an effort to rectify the situation, or else the cycle will continue indefinitely.

    Until we solve this dilemma, I suggest, when it comes to canines, you watch your backside, keep your eyes on their teeth, and always remember: Even the friendliest dog might not like the “Jeopardy” theme.

    Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield.

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