My two Airedales have many remarkable qualities. Don’t, please, tell me you don’t know what an Airedale is! It’s that dog that is the quintessential happy face with a beard that used to illustrate almost every dog story and every can of dog food.
Granted we are a relic of the past. Everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to Woodrow Wilson used to have them in the White House. There was a time, around the turn of the 20th century, when they were the American dog. I grant you they also went with big frame houses, big families, a chicken in every pot [with rice] for Sunday dinner, and an occasional slap across the chops if you didn’t behave properly, especially at meal time, and got caught putting the chewing gum away under the table.
But these days they are considered “big dogs”. [What do those “big dog” people think when they see the occasional Great Pyrenees? I used to meet a lady in Central Park in New York with one, a very well behaved critter. But I did wonder how she fitted him into an apartment on Central Park West.]
Nobody has told my two guys, a male and a female, that they are “big dogs”. So whenever I am there – and often when I am not – they climb up on my big double bed. They generally sleep. Luckily for me, the male likes to sleep with his muzzle arranged over my feet. That keeps my toes, always cold in mid-summer, warm. They occasionally grunt when I roll over on one of them. But by and large, we share the accommodations without rancor.
They don’t pay much attention to the television, which runs incessantly – sometimes [let’s be honest, often] when I am sleeping. [I was finally forced to shell out a hundred bucks for some nifty ear phones the other day so that when I am listening at full gallop, with my disappearing hearing, I don’t keep the whole house awake.] In fact, I find the best way to go to sleep is to tune in CNN and let that old Phumpha Wolf Blitzer, or even better, Amanpour whose generally stranded somewhere between Tehran and London, put me right to sleep. Not Becky Anderson though – that’s a voice from hell and an accent [does anyone outside some special place in Yorkshire understand that accent?]. She grates.
But, curiously, and I have never understood this mystery: whenever a dog comes on the screen, my male, is all ears. [Name’s Yamana Nobori – “mountain guide” in Japanese because he was up and out of his little fenced-in turf at three weeks, climbing back and forth in to suckle Mom, and then running around the “fence” in the living room, barking at his 11 – yep! count them — 11, all beautiful fellow puppies, no runts if you please!]
I read that dogs don’t see too well, not as well as us humans [although count me out with my glaucoma!] They smell above and beyond the call of duty to discern the characteristics of the scene and those around them. But now wait a minute!: my old Sony TV is pretty good still [probably with an old tube better than what they put out today with those twisted slanted borders]. But it doesn’t give you smells, at least not yet.
So how does Nobori know a dog has just come on the screen? He watches silently but intently as long as the dog is on the picture. I notice, too, that he looks for it to come off the back on one side or another after it disappears. Then after a spell, he gives it up and goes back to sleep. Maybe he does have one eye open for the next dog on TV?
All this to tell you that Nobori is an art critic, too.
‘Cause my Airedales know when they hear a real barking dog!