When my friend and fellow Spokesman-Review columnist Cindy Hval wrote a couple columns from the perspective of her cats, Thor and Milo, I laughed. They were fun columns with the facts filtered through artistic license. (You can read them here and here.)
Over drinks Cindy and I decided I should respond by writing a column from the perspective of my border collie Tippy. I’d written about Tippy before but not from his point of view. Alas, when I submitted the column it was rejected with apologies from my editor.
I rewrote the column from my perspective (read the revision here), but have since received requests to share the original column. What’s the point of an oft-neglected blog if not to self-publish rejected columns written from the perspective of a dog?
So, here it is in Tippy’s words:
I’m Tippy, a border collie-Australian shepherd mix that lives in the Barville pack. I’m writing this column for Jill, my Alpha animal. I’d do anything for her. She’s the best, which I tell her all the time because when you love someone, you should tell them every time you see them.
Jill has written about me before but when I heard that Milo and Thor, columnist Cindy Hval’s cats, each wrote a column while she vacationed this summer, I barked.
It’s cute that a cat could write a column. But unlike a cat, I’m dependable, high energy, focused, and bred to work. Ever since she brought me home from the animal rescue place, I’ve told Jill that I’d like more responsibilities beyond managing house and yard security, entertaining the pack, and providing constant companionship to her no matter what room she’s in. I’d prefer to do more.
It took quite a bit of barking before she realized what I wanted. She’s smart but not border collie smart. When she finally said, “do you want to write a column too, Tippy?” I barked loud, perked my ears and jumped into the air, careful to not put my paws on her. She doesn’t like that.
Since I love her very much, I try hard to do things she likes and stop doing things she doesn’t like. I stopped barking at the aerosol cooking spray can and at the vacuum cleaner, because she asked me to, even though those things could hurt her.
I just wish she were smarter or could understand bark the way I understand English. Then I could reason with her and help her understand why I do some of the things I do.
When I bark at horses, dogs and other animals who’re approaching the big, black window, for example, it’s to keep them from jumping into our living room. The rest of the pack just stares at the black window, as if they don’t realize the animals on the other side aren’t safe. It’s up to me to keep the pack safe.
I also bark at the black window when Jill yells at it because some humans aren’t doing what she wants with a ball. They must be bad at fetching. I’m good at fetching. If she needs to throw a ball a bunch of times, I help by chasing it and bringing it back, no matter how hot or tired I am. I could do this all day.
In fact, I can do a lot more than she thinks I can. She shouldn’t have been so surprised last week, for example, when I went to visit my best friend Bear. He’s a golden retriever and not an actual bear. I’d seen Bear the night before when he visited after traveling in an RV for a month. We didn’t get to play long enough.
I thought when the other Alpha, Curtis, left the garage door open, it meant I was supposed to scout the neighborhood and make sure it was safe. It was and everyone was either asleep or in the shower so I didn’t have any other jobs to do so I ran the ¾ mile to Bear’s house. There’s only one busy street to cross and I’m faster than most cars anyway.
Speaking of speed, I’d like to clarify that I’m faster than most animals, including squirrels and especially cats. This is one of many reasons I’m so good at my job as chief security officer and pack protector.
I run at half speed while barking to ensure squirrels don’t violate our yard space. They’re stupid rodents who push the boundary by running along the top of the six foot fence, talking smack in those high pitched voices that sound like a squeaky toy.
This partially explains the squirrel incident last month. Jill isn’t the best communicator and hadn’t explained that I wasn’t authorized to use lethal force when enforcing our borders. So when that squirrel breached our yard space and squeaked, I did my job. I grabbed it with intent to toss it over the fence. It was still squeaking when she yelled at me to stop.
Her wish is my command so I dropped it instantly before running into the house with my tail down to show I was sorry my security measures had displeased her.
One of my prime responsibilities is to make sure she and the other pack humans are happy, a job I take seriously.
When the youngest human pup gets up, for example, I meet him on the stairs and bounce backward while barking as he stumbles up sleepily. This helps him wake up and arrive at the top safely. It also makes him feel loved and that is the most important job of all. Humans need to know they’re loved.
It also makes the young pup happy when I give him a high five, shake his hand or fetch the flying disc or ball, so I perform these tasks and eat the oat cereal he offers as payment. I love having a job and wish he and the other humans would give me more work.
I’m pretty sure I could learn how to do anything they do, only better, whether that’s fetching a sports drink from the refrigerator or writing this column twice a month.
If you read both versions, which is your preference? I promise to not take it personally.