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Bidding farewell, for now, to Roscoe

As much as I love dogs, and love dog lovers, I have to admit — being one — that there are times many of us tend to view canine behavior anthropomorphically, interpreting what dogs are doing in terms of what we, as humans, would like to think it means.

Such was the case the other day, as I prepared to leave the home of my brother, a visit during which Ace and Roscoe, and Roscoe and I, formed a new bond.

The two big dogs — Roscoe is a yellow lab — accepted each other after some initial growliness. Ace, I think, kept a low profile, allowing Roscoe to be top dog. He stayed away from Roscoe’s toys, and, with some help, Roscoe’s food, followed him when he went outside to bark at something, or nothing, and, for a week, they peacefully coexisted. The last day, they even went so far as to share the couch, which, though Roscoe’s turf, also served as my bed.

When I went to take a quick shower before leaving, Roscoe came in, picked my t-shirt off the bathroom floor, and carried it to the bed. After my shower, I tried to get it back. He mouthed it, chewed on it, dared me to try to take it, but would not give it up. To my silly human sensibilities, it was as if he didn’t want me to leave, or at least wanted to keep a remembrance of me if I did.

That, and his tendency, especially they day I was leaving, to follow me every where I went, had me thinking Roscoe considered me as special as I considered him.

More realistically, he was probably recalling the treat or two I gave him, and the shirt theft was just a game he likes to play. He’d done the same thing with my socks, does the same thing with his toy bone, and engages in even more bizarre behavior with his pillow.

It’s a regular sized big bed pillow, designated for him, and he likes to jump in bed and get it, and carry it in his mouth, outside, back inside, around the house, until he finds a suitable spot to place it down and lay his head upon it.

Like most yellow labs, he’s a  natural born clown. Few other breeds seem so intent — keyword being seem — on entertaining us. Really, they’re just following their instincts, which include carrying things around in their mouths and, in the case of other yellow labs I’ve met, loudly and frequently voicing their opinions. They bark at things that are there, and things that are not.

Roscoe, when humans are engaged in conversation, seems to need to get his point of view across. Even when my brother is talking to somebody on the phone, Roscoe must get in his two-cents — sometimes more like $1.50 — worth. Why? I’d only be guessing, and likely anthropomorphisizing again, as much as I hate trying to spell that word and its variations.

Generally speaking, its more fun to simply enjoy a dog rather than try to analyze one.

In any event I finally got my t-shirt back. Roscoe agreed to give it up in exchange for a treat. I got packed and was on my way, though it’s likely I will take advantage of my brother’s hospitality again in a few more days. I left with only one conclusion about my brother’s big goofy dog:

Roscoe, a gracious beast, rocks.

(To go back to the beginning of Dog’s Country,” click here.)