“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
― George Orwell, Animal Farm
Lost-suffering followers of this space may recall that in addition to our three cats — Mischief (aka Missy), Tyson, and Tubby (formerly known as Molly) — we have two dogs: Obie (short for Obadiah) and Charlie. Obie is a schnauzer and Charlie is a springer spaniel, we think. I am not sure about the springer part, and I am suspicious that I might just be thinking “springer” because Charlie likes to jump fences a lot. And it is about Charlie and his springing that I am writing this piece.
Charlie is a rescue animal that we got from the Human Society shortly after our dog Buttercup died on Labor Day 2010. It took a few months, but we discovered over time with the aid of our much missed neighbor Bob Laushman that Charlie is an escape artist. Bob caught him on a number of occasions and put him back for us, but now Bob has moved on to a better place — somewhere the other side of Rouse Street lest you worry too much.
In any case, we didn’t want to impose too much, so we got a radio fence for Charlie. You bury wire in a circle around where you want to keep your dog, and you put a special collar on the aforesaid dog that gives him a shock whenever he gets too close to the fence. It works great. I accidentally crossed the wire while touching both contacts on the collar, and it took months before I’d cross the wire again even to take out the garbage.
We installed this radio fence — I believe — in the early autumn of 2011. That makes it five years old. And I say this so as to make the point it has taken five years for Charlie to learn how to circumvent it.
This has been a gradual process that has only come to crisis proportions fairly recently. There were at first a few minor incidents that were connected with Charlie’s dislike for loud noises such as fireworks, thunderstorms, and the firing of the cannon whenever the Gorillas made a touchdown. Recurrent loud noises would upset him, and soon we would find him out of the backyard and scratching at the kitchen door, trying to get into the house.
For a while, this was limited to the weeks around the Fourth of July, thunderstorms, and football saturdays. Then this summer, when the fireworks were going off, my beloved wife took pity on the poor creature and began putting both Charlie and Obie in the basement to protect them from the noise.
In my opinion, this was a mistake. They discovered that, even though it is a damp, stinky, dirty, spider-filled place, they like it. To put a finer point on it, it is my opinion that putting Obie down there, in particular, was the big mistake.
Let me explain.
Charlie is roughly five times as large as Obie by any meaningful measure, but is docile with regard to everything but loud noises. Obie, by way of contrast, has a Napoleon complex. And he treats the yard as his kingdom. He is Kaiser Wilhelm and our yard is Europe. Or, better, he treats the yard like he is Napoleon in Animal Farm. Charlie is much more like an Irishman in this analogy. He enjoys his food, drink, and respite. No doubt he would be writing long, difficult to understand novels if his paws were more amenable to the use of the keyboard. Left to his own devices he would be content. Perhaps one could relate him to Boxer in the Animal Farm analogy. I’ll have to think about it.
But, in any case, when they saw paradise in our basement, Obie, with his lust for control and power, planted the seeds of discontent in Charlie. Obie is Lenin and Charlie is the proletariat. Charlie endures the pain of crossing the radio fence and Obie gathers the benefit of it.
In the meantime, I remember what happened to the humans in Animal Farm, so I attempt, in my feeble way, to maintain control.
So far, they are winning.
— Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.