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Wait For It …


For a good many years we had dogs in our family. A cocker spaniel was followed by an Old English Sheepdog who was followed by three beagles.  We still get family comments about the time we moved to Pennsylvania and towed our VW behind our U-Haul with Nanny the sheepdog sitting in the driver's seat of the VW. Passing motorists also gave us big smiles. We also remembered the night her hysterectomy stitches opened up. She survived that but not an encounter with a car a few years later.


Then there was Ashley the beagle who shook with fear in the car when, as a pup, we brought her home from her breeder. She never did like to ride in a car, something she communicated with similar shuddering all of her life. Her partner, Alley, was calm and quite self-contained. She didn't need you very much, but she was always there when you needed her.


We loved "The Art of Racing In The Rain," which sounded like a pretty schlocky book but turned out to be a marvelous tale narrated by a dog.


Our love of dogs has not lessened, but we just don't feel up to providing the care and attention anymore that a good dog deserves. When the last one, Alley, died we decided to take a bit of a dog holiday. That holiday is now in its fifteenth year.


Recently, however, we volunteered to take care of Henry, a beagle, when our daughter and her family went on vacation. He's a terrific dog, full of love and fun and energy, and I take him for a long walk every morning. For as much as he's a good leash-tugger, he also has a passion for storm sewers. He finds ecstasy in lawn and leaf muck and stale rainwater. Not surprising since a beagle is essentially just a twenty to thirty pound nose.


To his credit, though, he calms me and gives the walk some purpose beyond arterial cleansing or muscular development.


There's something about walking a dog that brings out nice things in people. You get waves and greetings and people want to know its name. Other dog walkers give nods of understanding as you activate your bag system and bend over to pick up some waste. No longer are you seen as a walking question mark: an intruder, a stalker, perhaps a catalytic converter thief.


Which got me to thinking. We regularly see our politicians and diplomats out there on the world's stage all puffed-up and smiling, handshakes at the ready as they inwardly plot to gain world dominance here or cheaper oil prices there or a new trade agreement with this guy at the expense of that guy over there. The posturing and self-righteousness are quite unseemly. Really, they look so lonely in their demagoguery, so friendless in their puffery surrounded as they are by sycophants and yes-people. They need …


… therapy dogs! There's an idea.


We see such dogs regularly in hospitals, retirement homes, veterans' centers, even, sadly, in schools as they offer post-traumatic comfort to those in need of such comfort. Tails wagging, muzzles offering big, sloppy kisses, a furry head resting on the crook of an elbow, they pop the bubble of pain by offering nothing more than a moment's friendship.


Something, I think, our politicos sorely need.


Nothing can un-stuff a stuffed-shirt like a pocket full of Milk Bones, or take the steam out of some tirade like a goofy canine jumping up on a lap.  Just imagine one of those giant conference tables surrounded by blustering, table-pounding and red-faced folks trying to maintain that bluster in the face of doggy drool on a sleeve or pant leg.


Finally, the impulse to shatter some long-established geopolitical principle has got to be diminished by a muzzle on a knee and a big-eyed Fido looking up as if to say, "Please, sir/ma'am, I have to pee."


We often say our politicians have gone to the dogs. Maybe it's time for the dogs to go to them.


G.K. Wuori ©2022

Photoillustration by the author