Besides the worms and the dissolving road and the grass that now reaches the windowsills and the mold consuming the shoes in the closet, this poor, wet spring has heightened tensions between dogs and humans in our house.
May was downright swampy, April not much better, and June so far gets no prize. Easterly wind, drizzle, 40 days and nights of rain in a couple of hours, a few promising mornings giving way to overcast and thundery afternoons: one hoped for something more.
It could be that the gloominess has me in a mood.
Diesel, the English mastiff, is a very sweet dog. But, unlike Copper, the Rhodesian ridgeback who tossed off his mortal coil shortly after getting a glimpse of the big fellow, Diesel is untidy. He is indifferent to rain, snow, heat, cold, smells, and some commands.
He is out of communication with some of the distant reaches of himself, so he lets these parts do as they choose. For instance, playing the indoor game he loves, in which he tears a dishtowel or napkin to shreds while you try to pry it from his canyon-like mouth, Diesel found his after end sitting on the ottoman in front of the sofa. It was nothing he planned, but he said, Okay, if that's what the after parts want to do, I'll go with it. Now, the ottoman is his daily resting place, at least for those trailing parts of his long body.
Diesel is the anti-Copper. Copper - silky and adoring, slumberous, anxious to be good - was tidy and nearly hairless. He hated the rain, loved the dry dirt in the driveway and the hot sun. A long, wet spell kept Cop in the house for days. I have no idea how he dealt with the urges he must have felt. Sublimation, I suppose. But, I lived in fear of a terrible explosion.
Copper didn't need a downpour to be discouraged from outdoor exercise. If the weather was humid, if the dew lay thick upon the grass, Cop's view was, I think I'll just lie here on my bed for the day, don't pay me any mind at all. (Or words to that effect.)
Diesel, on the other hand, is indifferent to gross discomfort, doesn't mind the rain, loves the mud, especially the mud that was the perennial garden. Let it rain, let it rain is his motto. He says, This is the day the Lord hath made; I'll go with it. In fact, I'll go with it is his reaction to almost everything, except a request that he jump in the back of the car. He despises driving trips.
We keep towels near each entrance to the house. When Diesel, drenched and reeking, appears at a door and rakes his enormous paw across the mullions to signal his desire to come in, we rush to swaddle him as he marches through our arms toward the pantry, where the dog treats are housed. Getting him to stand for the toweling is futile. Moll and I towel ourselves off afterwards, which takes longer, is more effective, and can be fun.
Naturally, after shaking and then internalizing a dog bone, Diesel wants out. To prevent the paw thing on the inside of the door, we acquiesce. Of course, sometimes he says out, but doesn't really want to go out. I guess he just wants to look out and sniff the air in search of something fetid to investigate. In such cases, as the wind-driven rain teems in, we wait till the spirit moves him. In or out, it's a debate for Diesel sometimes.
For nearly two and a half months now, Diesel has been damp. Because everything about him is big, that damp aura of his has inflated to become our indoor aura. I'm reminded of a line that was common in coming attractions at the movies years ago. It went like this, 'It's a love story as big as the West itself.' It brings Diesel and his aura to mind. Would that our house were big as the West, because Diesel's aura is wasted under our roof. It could absolutely dominate the atmosphere over a north-south swath of red states west of the Mississippi and east of the Rockies.
Ping, who is a Pug, preceded Diesel in our affections. Ping admired Copper. He is astonished, but not intimidated, by Diesel. Ping is not an outdoor sort of dog. He cannot empathize with Diesel's recurrent urge to frolic in the daily drenching. Ping gets wet enough just passing beneath Diesel's drooling jowls. And, truth be told, Ping, who sleeps in our bed, has an aura of his own that is naturally more contained, because of his diminutive size, but powerful nevertheless.
But, during a long down cycle (I'm speaking weather-wise), we can deal with Ping. We can bathe him in the sink and dry him with the hair dryer. We can perfume his roly-poly, 23-pound football of a body and tame the smell, at least for a while.
Diesel, on the other hand, is a damp weather dilemma greater than Ping by several orders of magnitude. He is the mushroom cloud of doggy odor, and he may be the reason Copper, the most fastidious of dogs, marked Diesel's arrival on scene by claiming his well-earned eternal reward. You guys can deal with this, was Cop's attitude.