Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oh Turtle

Oh Turtle
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
This is a story about a turtle and a dog with OCD. My dog, to be specific, and Theo of course, to be even specificer.

Yesterday morning I took the dogs for their morning run out where the powers that be are building their giant greenway road trail thing. In order to do this, they have built a small fence along one side out of those green stakes and turkey wire. The fence is about 18" tall or so and it holds back the weeds and grass and green vines in much the same way that a girdle would hold back my Dunlop syndrome* if I was masochistic enough to wear one.

I was walking along the trail, which, to give the devil his due, does make walking easier and more aerobic since I no longer have to weave my way through stinging nettles and 8' grass and spider webs - of course, I like stinging nettles and 8' grass and spider webs, but I've already gone into that - and so can move at the kind of brisk pace advocated by skinny people in spandex. The dogs were on and off the trail and here and there - frolicking, if you will. Sniffing. Doing their dog thing and all was cool and green and damp and nice, although the fence has blocked their explorations a bit, except for Django.

Django is a springer spaniel, which I fondly believe means that he is springy, like Tigger "Tiggers are made out of rubber, tiggers are made out of springs, they're bouncy wouncy bouncy wouncy oh tiggers are wonderful things" in Pooh Bear. This is probably untrue from an etymological standpoint but from a real world one it is extremely true. So Django just bounces right over the 18" fence every day. He was investigating over there when he found something and started to bark, which brought Theo - I don't know how he got over the fence, but when Theo gets interested, he can do all kinds of things he claims he cannot - who promptly started going berserk and barking as if the mother of all squirrels was over there. Perdita, who couldn't stand the curiosity a minute longer, squeezed herself through one of the holes in the fence grid - that was extremely funny to watch, by the way - and headed over to Theo and his barking.

She took one look or sniff, shrieked like a little girl, executed a sort of 4 foot jump in the air and twist and landed going the other direction at high speed. That made me cross the fence to see what was up. What was up is pictured here, your basic gigantic river snapping turtle.
"Careful," I told the dogs, "That thing could take your leg off and if you don't stop barking, it probably will."
Perdita said that as far as she was concerned it was a monster straight from hell and she had no intention of bothering it.
Django said "Whuh?" and bounced on his merry way and Theo became consumed with the need to bark at the turtle forever. Forever, until the end of the world or the turtle killed him, whichever came first.

I took a few pictures of the turtle, apologized to her for the fence, which was blocking her way , apologized politely for my ill bred dogs (I have this need to always be extremely polite to turtles and I couldn't tell you why, but somehow, turtles demand formality) told her that I would help her across it if I could but unfortunately I was unable to pick her up (this is because I have a healthy fear of huge snapping turtles) and tried to get Theo to leave. No go. Theo was never leaving. I finally had to put his leash on and physically drag him down the trail until I thought he had forgotten the turtle and was more interested in playing with the dogs.

That's what I thought, but I was wrong, because he promptly beelined back to the turtle and recommenced barking procedures as recommended in the Neurotic Collie Handbook, volume 2, Bark A Lot and When In Doubt Bark More. So I followed him and put the leash back on and apologized again to the turtle and dragged Theo back towards the park where I ran into my friends Todd and Naomi and their three dogs Bucket, Kita and Sam. I took Theo off the leash and was telling them about the turtle when I realized that Theo was gone. Yes, gone, almost a quarter damn mile gone back to bark at the turtle some more.

Eventually I got Theo back and got home and got to work and yadda yadda and this story would end here except that I went back to the park today and LO, the turtle, or, conceivably, another turtle extremely similar in appearance because frankly I am not all that good at recognizing individual turtles, was under a bush about 100 yards away from where she was yesterday and we had to completely do exactly the same thing with the leash and the dragging and the barking. Or we would have except that it came on to thunder and lightning and it turns out that the one thing that can break Theo of his obsessions is a thunderstorm, because he's terrified of them and so he attached himself to my leg, panting, and got into the car in pure joy and came home and went downstairs to get under the papasan chair in Miles' room, which he has decided is the safest place in the house.

And tomorrow, gods willin' and the creek don't rise, we will see the turtle again. Now can somebody tell me if that is indeed a snapping turtle or am I crazy?

*Dunlop syndrome: where your belly dun lopped over your belt. Also known as spare tire syndrome.


Jenn said...

At work, one of my favorite customers has a severe case of dunlop. To make it even worse, his last name is Dunlop. And he wonders how I've always been able to remember his name. . . . .

Haskell said...

That's a very sweet story. Theo and I seem to have something in common -- always returning to the same place.

Oh, and there's also a brand of tire called Dunlop. But really, you have nothing to worry about in that regard. :-)