Sunday, December 10, 2006

Claire's Bear Scare

Claire and I walk the same route and argue about pretty much the same things in the same spots every morning. For instance, for two and a half months now, every time we walk up to our favorite dumpster to deposit a bag of her crap, her nose becomes a high-powered electromagnet drawn to one spot approximately four feet northeast of our drop point. She goes there because it was the final resting place of a half-eaten and tire-flattened chicken wing that she discovered back in September. It was rapturous love at first smell, and for all of the right reasons I immediately forced her to leave it alone and move on.

Moving on, however, is not one of Claire's gifts. Today the only thing left of the chicken is a greasy spot in the parking lot that, at best, smells like seasoned asphalt. None of this makes any difference to Claire whose powerful nose and imagination recreates the gnawed wing in all its glory each day. She plants her nose in that precise spot every morning knowing full well that I will be yanking her away directly. I would gladly sniff the greasy ground if it resulted in that kind of optimism.

There are other predictable rituals--the forced tug away from the place where a hot dog lay in mid-October. She snagged that one and tossed it back like a sorority girl doing shots in Cabo before I knew what she was doing. I suspect we then dropped the hot dog in the dumpster the following day, but being party to all of this doesn't keep her from obsessing over the spot where she found it. She's very sentimental.

Until today, Claire's history with us suggested there were no animals that intimidated her. I've seen her get the best of German Shepherds, make friends with enormous Rotweilers and sidle up to husky Pit Bulls for a butt sniff. This morning, however, as we walked down College St. for home, we passed a mechanical polar bear. A yard ornament about Claire's size with a little motor that moved its head from side to side in a jerky and completely unconvincing motion (at least if the effect of a polar bear surveying its bed of Boston Ivy was the desired effect). We've passed this thing at least 10 times already on prior walks, but for some reason Claire only noticed it today. She threw her hackles up and immediately ran to hide behind me. Then she started growling and eventually barking.

I wasn't sure what to do. I thought about going up to pat the bear, suggesting to Claire that he was friendly, but I was worried the homeowner would come out and think I was either stealing it or crazy(why not both?). I settled for the truly insane option of explaining to Claire that this wasn't a real bear at all. The scale and texture were all wrong. It was just a poorly conceived seasonal ornament with no logical connection to Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or any other winter holiday. I think in her own way, Claire was trying to tell me the same thing, "this whatever-it-is doesn't belong here."

I'll be interested to see if I have a new obsession on my hands tomorrow.


3 Comments:

Anonymous Sally said...

Great mental image of Claire and her hot dog.

6:39 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Barkley once got ahold of a squirrel's head (yes, head) at Butler University when he was a puppy. Marc and I freaked out, because neither of us wanted to fish it out of his mouth. So disgusting!! I'd take chicken wings and hot dogs any day!

12:58 PM  
Anonymous jennie said...

I love Troy & Claire stories.

6:51 AM  

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