Dog day means overtime for hardworking pup

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"That's the mayor," I replied. "He's giving Rusty a chew toy as the key to the city. It goes with a proclamation for Dog Day."

Ozzie gave me one of those cocked-head looks, like he does when I try to sing.

"Day of the Dog?" he asked. "What's that mean?"

I explained there is going to be a bunch of doggy activities at Fuji Park tomorrow, and this was the mayor's way of drawing attention to the event.

"Excellent," he said. "It's about time we got some recognition. You're always writing the bad things about dogs in the newspaper -- when they bite somebody, or they're being held in jail, or ...."

"Whoa, whoa," I interrupted. "What do you mean when dogs are being held in jail?"

"Every week I see in the Sunday paper all these dogs being held in jail. Poor things, just begging for somebody to come bail them out. Once in awhile, there's a cat in the picture. But cats deserve everything they get."

I really didn't want to get into a long debate with Ozzie over cats. I know he's biased -- it's his nature, they say -- and even though he lives with a cat he still thinks of them as second-class citizens. It's just not a conversation I want to get into with a dog.

Trying to get back on the subject, I pointed out to Ozzie that the Appeal also recently had a picture of a dog on the front page to go with a story warning people not to leave their pets in hot cars.

"You call that 'positive' news about dogs?!" he shot back, his teeth showing a bit more than usual. "That was horrible. Horrible. I couldn't even read to the end of the article. The thought of some poor mutt suffocating in a car while his human is galavanting about. It's enough to give me nightmares."

"So that's what you were dreaming about the other day when you were lying there twitching on the carpet."

"Well, no. I was dreaming about chasing rabbits."

"Rabbits? You live in town. You don't even know what a rabbit is."

"OK. OK. It was a cat."

"I thought so."

Ozzie jumped up on my lap and licked me in the face, which is what he does when he wants to change the subject.

"This Day of the Dog," he said, "is it a holiday?"

"I suppose so. It was declared by Mayor Ray, which makes it about as official as it gets in Carson City."

"Cool. That means I get time-and-a-half on Saturday."

This time it was my turn to cock my head and give him that look. "What do you mean time-and-a-half?"

'Well, you're expecting me to work, right? I have to be here all day guarding the house, keeping an eye on the cat, networking with the other dogs in the neighborhood -- and you want me to do all that on my day off."

"Your day off!" I showed him some of my teeth. "You don't get a day off!"

"I do now. Thanks, Mayor Ray."

"All you do is lie around the house all day, eat out of your dish, poop in the back yard ...."

Ozzie looked up at me with those big brown eyes, his tail starting to droop a little.

"C'mon," he said, letting a stream of drool slide down on my shoes. "Let's not make this personal. I could say a few things about you, too, you know. Besides, you think it's easy being a dog? I was up at 4 o'clock this morning barking my fool head off trying to protect you and the missus from whatever horrible evil was lurking in the front yard."

"Yeah, I know. I heard you. By the way, what was that?"

"Beats me."

We shook hands then. I gave him a little scratch on the belly, and he licked me in the ear. All was forgiven, which is the best thing between humans and dogs. It's pretty hard to stay upset for long.

"So what do you think?" he asked after a pause.

"OK," I said. "On Saturday, you get three dog biscuits."

He gave me a little wink, which I'm never quite sure is intentional or just an involuntary twitch. "Thanks, buddy," he said. "And I'll let you sleep 'til 4:30."

Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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