Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mediation

There's no denying that Duncan enjoys being admired. He revels in it. This morning at the park several children called out to him from their strollers as their mother jogged them past. "Look at the pretty doggie," one cried, waving at him with her chubby little hand. Another girl, perched atop her father's shoulders demanded to be set down so she could pet him. Duncan stood by, lowering his head humbly under all the praise and licked her fingers as she repeated something she must've heard at home. "He's a sweet pea, isn't he? What a sweet pea!" Despite the fact that he's in desperate need of grooming, people comment on his good looks and gentle nature often, and were I single and straight I could probably refer him to him as "a babe magnet."

But he's more than just good looks. As often as he brings me a sense of peace he seeks to preserve it with others, especially at the dog park. We drive down to The Ponds several times a week and on every occasion I've watched Duncan police the other dogs in an attempt to maintain orderly conduct and harmony among the many other dogs gathered there. He is most certainly not an alpha male. He's quick to roll over on his back and expose his belly during play, often defers to younger, smaller dogs, never raises his hackles and only rarely growls. But at the park if two dogs get overly excited and their play becomes louder than Duncan deems acceptable, he'll break off from whatever it is he's doing, chase down the offenders, give them one very big and very stern bark and literally step between them. In every situation the problem has immediately blown over and Dunc has trotted back to me for a pat on the head and a scritch behind his ears. I've held my breath several times and have even tensed up in preparation of stepping in but it's never been necessary. He's the guy everyone likes, the guy whose opinion seems to matter and all the other dogs listen. They back right down and carry on with their business. This afternoon when one of the owners (seriously people, I need a new word for owner! Suggestions, please!), a young guy who had two rugged and coarse Huskies with him, started jumping up and down in an attempt to excite his dogs, the whole pack swarmed around and started yapping. Duncan, who'd decided to rest at my feet after nearly an hour of running and playing and retrieving the tennis ball we'd brought, leapt up, jogged right into the fray and barked––a deep, low bark––at the guy, his face right in the kid's crotch. We all laughed as the kid dropped his hands, covered himself and relented. "Okay, okay," he said. "My bad." Duncan wagged his tail, sniffed some butts and ambled back to where I stood watching, a look of satisfaction on his face.

5 comments:

Lori said...

I totally relate! (Ripley was like that) I just want everybody to get along. Duncan just has the charisma to make it happen. Good boy, Dunc!

Chris & Mackenzie said...

I keep coming back to the word 'guardian'...seems to better describe the relationship than 'owner'.

Thoughts?

Curt Rogers said...

Guardian is a GREAT suggestion. I like it. THANKS for the great suggestion!

traci said...

Guardian came to my mind as well. Not just because we are guardians of the dogs, but they are guardians of us, and often our guardian angels.

NodakJack said...

"Benefactor" is the word.