Thursday, March 18, 2010

Working Dog

Yesterday I walked down to the Santa Fe market. I went to pick up a half-gallon of milk. My Lurcher did not accompany me, as she considered the weather unsuitable for a dog with her sensitive nature.
As I approached the door of the shop I was startled by a sudden outburst of vicious barking and snarling coming from a very large German Shepherd Dog in a very large SUV. The dog was evidently taking a violent exception to my proximity. His exception was in fact so violent that the vehicle, from which he seemed to be so anxious to disembark, was pitching like a dinghy in a sudden squall.
I could imagine the damage his flailing toenails were doing to the upholstery of the seat he was occupying.
I stopped. Looking bemusedly at him I asked him, “Don’t you think you’re overdoing it a bit, you great hairy oaf?”
A voice tinged with petulance came from behind me. It said, “He’s just doing his job.”
I turned and beheld a youngish man, dressed in those casual clothes affected by the bulk of young Marin-dwelling entrepreneurs, which look very ordinary but cost as much as a suit. He was frowning slightly.
“Really” I said. His job is annoying people in front of shops? How marvelous! And he does seem to have a great deal of natural talent for it.”
Without giving the man time to respond, I continued. “You know I’m very interested in this. I’m in the market for a job myself, and I do have the ability to be quite annoying with very little effort! Is only for dogs, or can people do it too? Is it hard work to get? Does it require much training? Do the shop-owners hire you directly, or is it necessary to go through an agency? Is there a union?”
By this time the young man was making a dash for his SUV. The dog continued foaming, roaring, and clawing at the windows.
As the dog’s owner pulled the car door open, he growled, “Quiet, Sierra!” Which of course, had no effect on Sierra’s behavior. He sprang behind the wheel, slammed the door and started the engine. As he put the car into gear and glanced over his shoulder to check for traffic, I called out, “Does it pay cash or kibble?”
He glared at me, mouthed something which was undoubtedly rude and/or profane, and sped away.

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