Most writers would be forced to supplement their income by standing on a corner with a paper coffee cup if they didn’t teach a little English on the side. I’m no different (at least until my entry into the Great American Novel sweepstakes wins the grand prize).
One day while I was teaching English as a Second Language to some Latino adults in San Pablo, I was explaining that the formal pronoun for the word dog is “it” – though of course many dog lovers object to the use of this abject pronoun to objectify the objects of their affections. One of my students felt that raising a dog to the level of personhood really gets annoying when Fido is included in a Secret Santa drawing, which happened last month in her family. I see her point. What if a dog drew your name? Is he really capable of picking out a tasteful tie considering that he’s colorblind? Who knows what kind of gift you’d get? Probably something from the bottom shelf at Pet Food Express, unless the dog in question were a Great Dane. And consider this: Buying you the perfect gift might be frustrating for Fido once he finds out there is no butcher’s department at Macy’s.
With Bay Woof’s Beast of the Bay Awards in full swing, I feel it’s necessary to secure my place in history by pointing out that the favorite-thing survey in this fine publication originated in this very column – only I don’t survey people, I survey dogs. Maybe my awards contest should be called Bay of the Beast. Continuing that proud tradition, here is the latest. Think of them as punchlines to shaggy dog stories you’ll never have to listen to:
- Best food movie: Barbet’s Feast
- Best modern artist: Paul Klee Kai
- Best vintage sitcom: Dobie Gillis
- Best vintage pop song: The Boxer (by Paul Samoyed)
There is one dog favorite that requires a bit of explanation. “The Best Place to Buy a Build-It-Yourself Doghouse” is the dog-friendly knockoff of Ikea called Akita. One reason for its popularity is that, like Ikea, Akita provides assembly instructions using pictures rather than words. Good for non-English speakers like Russian Wolfhounds and also yer basic illiterate mutt. But what dogs like most about Akita is that, just like at Ikea, you have to walk through every department before you can finally exit the building. That requires that a dog and her human companions have to cover a distance equal to that of Ocean Beach and Crissy Field combined to get out of the place.
Taking dog surveys is sure fun. They never complain about how liberally you interpret their responses. So, since The Beatles are getting saturation advertising now that ITunes has finally landed their catalogue, I decided to ask dogs about their favorite songs by their favorite band (from a parallel universe), The Beagles. Here are the tunes that bow-wow canines the most.
Act Naturally (naturally)
I Want to Lick Your Hand
Baby, You Can Drive My Car (While I stick my head out the window)
Ridgeback in the USSR
When I’m Nine (or so)
Carry That Weight (Husky’s lament)
Strawberry Field Spaniels Forever
Sargeant Puppy’s Lonely Herd Dog Band
Run for Your Life If You Can (Greyhound’s lament)
The Long and Winding Road (lost dog’s lament)
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide except Me and My Munsterlander
I Want to Be Your Manchester Terrier
Mean Mister Mastiff
Please Mr. Postman (drop the pepper spray and back away slowly)
Why Don’t We Doodoo in the Road
All You Need Is Love (and kibble)
Herb Canine is one of writer/musician Tad Toomay’s many alter egos. Get acquainted with the others at www.tadtoomay.com.