My dogs are much better reporters than me. Me, I like to keep my shoes dry and my hands clean. They love the dirt; wallow in it, in fact. They don’t mind the hard questions. The nose goes right to the spot under the tail or straight to the crotch. No attempts to phrase it politely, or create an atmosphere of cozy intimacy for sharing secrets. Just nose to butt and take it or nip it, and they get the story every time.
Baby prances, tail high, nose up, always at the end of her tether, tugging toward each new story. Billy is a plod. He sort of waddles along, carefully investigating each bit of evidence, each clue to the neighborhood mysteries. To Billy, everyone is a friend he will politely greet. To Baby, all people are suspect except her very own and she hides behind Billy or me when they approach. Some dogs are friends, some are bullies, and some are just lonely, and Billy knows which is which and just doesn’t care. Baby isn’t too sure of any of them except the puppies. She likes puppies, no matter their size.
Both had previous owners and names, and not so good experiences with life. Billy is a bit phlegmatic; Baby may be secretly blonde.
She dances along the street on her tippy toes like a mini ballerina. She is always at the end of her tether, stretching for the next smell, tugging and pulling like a miniature sled dog. Raccoon crossing, cat, cat, cat, good dog, not so good dog, SNAKE HOLE!, cat, cat, more raccoons. On point, bird dog style, hey, look, a pigeon!
Billy’s first stop was always Grumpas, the 1000-year-old gopher turtle. They have been friends for years and Grumpas often stops by the lanai when passing by. This huge gopher turtle comes up to the screen, waits for his friend, then side by side, they walk the length of the pool, turn, and walk back. Grumpas goes on his way, and Billy watches him leave. Every evening, Billy pees near the entrance to Grumpas’s mound. A Billy byline.
From there it is on to each blade of grass to get the full story on what Baby has sniffed out. Not only did raccoons cross, but they had raided the dog food in the garage left open a half hour too long. This cat had caught a mole, that cat was too little to be out alone, the other cat was Bob. No, not a bobcat, but Bob-the-cat, our own personal cat. Hmmm. Sunny is expecting and Midnight is going to be a daddy. Harley was here, but it is okay, he is gone. Stay away from the snake hole.
Occasionally there is a story that even brave Billy won’t follow up, and Baby runs as fast as short Westie legs will carry her. When the giant owl hoots from the top of the old oak, or the vultures gather in the old dead tree, Billy knows how that tale would end. When the panther coughs in the 11-acre jungle, we go. The coyote dog isn’t exactly a buddy either, although together they could take him. But when Billy doesn’t want to go to a certain area, humans are advised to not insist. He has killed poisonous snakes who mistook the lanai for a pleasant place to sun themselves. He has run off pit bulls twice his size, so if he doesn’t want to investigate that story, I’ll go with his instincts.