Friday, July 21, 2006


Dogs pant. This is not news. But until Baxter came into our lives, I didn't realize just how strategic a pant can be. The first of my scruffy dogs, a little Cairn Terrier named Katie, had a tiny little pant and she mostly used it for cooling off -- both physically (in the Midwest 90-degree heat/90-percent humidity) and emotionally (when panic ensued in the car). But beyond the cool-down pant (giant tongue, squinting eyes), Baxter has a whole repertoire of pants which he uses quite effectively. Just to name a few:

"I want to go outside NOW" aka The Breath Pant - This "smoke 'em outta their holes" pant (no association with the President intended) is usually employed when Bax has already been out to do his business, but there is a cat or squirrel or some other such irresistable entity in the yard. When the silent stare doesn't work and the tap on the leg with the paw is ignored (such as when I'm on the phone with a client or in the middle of a DVD), Bax breaks out a pant that must come from deep inside his belly. There's no jaunty tongue hanging out. No, this is just an open mouth and a very hot, stinky breath directed right at my face. I can stand this for approximately 10 minutes then I have to let him out. He knows this. I think he saves up his worst breath for these moments.

"Here comes the dog park!" aka The Unbridled Enthusiasm Pant - Baxter knows when he's within a mile of the dog park from any direction. I know this because he starts whining. Then, as we get closer and closer, his eyes get wild and the whining turns to howling intersperced with a sort of chimplike vocalization as he pants rapidly. No matter what we say, we cannot get him to stop. At this point we usually call him "Monkey Boy" and count the minutes until we get there.

"You are packing your suitcase" aka The Take Me With You Pant - This one is sort of in between The Breath Pant and The Unbridled Enthusiasm Pant. His eyes squint down, his tongue gets long and he follows me around the house, breathing hot air on the backs of my knees. The temperature in the house is irrelevant. And it doesn't stop until one of two things happen: 1) his dog bed gets loaded into the car or 2) he hears "You be good, I'll be back," at which point he lays down on the floor and lifts up his back leg as if to say "Go ahead, eviscerate me, it wouldn't be any more painful!" This doesn't usually work, but it doesn't stop him from trying.

"I'm in the truck" aka The Smile Pant - This isn't really a pant, per se, but all dogs do it. It's the contented look of a happy dog. Some say dogs pick this up from humans. I don't know, but I see it when Bax is riding between us in the truck or when he's sitting happily in the mountains or at the beach. This is my favorite pant of all.


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