My name is not Red.
‘Red’ is a sound they make that gives me those good feelings. It reminds me of treats. Milkbones and croutons. (Mmmm, croutons.) Of being up on the bed, that softest warm place that smells like the humans and the petting petting petting. It takes me back to the good parts of puppyhood, faces looming huge against my snout, making me cross my eyes to see them as they breathe their essence on me, rubbing my belly, making me feel cute and loved and smart.
It has made me feel more than accepted. I am intrinsic.
But Red is not my name.
My name is unutterable. It is a compound of smells and actions, a complex relationship of all that comes from me. And it cannot be said by anyone, be they human or canine. (Certainly not feline. Dumb cats. Dumb dumb.) It is a name that can only be expressed by me. Other dogs know my name – and better yet, they know when I have been there before them. My name goes slightly ahead of me and stays long after. No dog enters the yard, this house, or that wonderful truck without knowing who is the master of that place. Me! (Okay, not me. Craig. But he has awarded me proxy.)
I respond to the sound ‘Red’ as the most positive of reinforcements. It holds the promise of love and companionship. Praise. Rub my ears, clean my eyes. Mmm. (And more food, just one more bit, nothing terribly big, really. Thank you.) It’s all those positive things. But when I’m once again enveloped in the fog of scents, that one sound is sometimes simply not strong enough to break my genetic-borne pursuit. I am answering to something higher out there. It is a call not just to chase and hunt – it’s a call to protect my pack. As you blithely huff and puff and use all those words you use.
(Talk about words. I’ve never felt so full of them. Big ones! Where on earth did I learn unutterable?)
It is not that my love of the forest is greater than my love of my people. Such love! Total love! (Though sometimes I smell cat on them, cheating cheating cheating.) If one slipped and fell I would be there with them in an instant. Lassie has nothing on me, the lengths I would go to save them. (I still simply cannot believe they use only two legs. Smart as they are, they must know real speed and agility is only achieved on four. Another mystery to ponder…) The important things – their need for protection or help – I’d be there for them. Squirrels be damned. And bears for that matter, should they dare to approach
But they follow their nature, and I follow mine. Control is apparently a big part of their nature. And freedom is a big part of mine. Promise of a treat or a back-scratch with the sound ‘Red’ simply cannot outweigh the reward of my inalienable right to chase rodents. (Run smell run smell run smell run smell…)
At least for me. Others, well, others are different. My littlest friend, the one they tempt with the sound ‘Oscar’… that dog puts his rights aside for anything. Itty bitty Milkbone? Peanut? Crumb? Anything. That dog rolls over on a promise. (Which leads to another issue, perhaps for another time: what’s with those little humans? They love to entice us to do tricks…then not give us the treat we can smell right there in their grubby grubby grubby hand. They’re the ones who need training.)
What’s in a name? And…wait. Wait… this just occurred to me. They almost never come when I say their tempting sound. My pronunciation isn’t sharp, sure. My tongue is too long. But Craig knows “Hrorph!” is his call. I just can’t pronounce “Craig.” He knows Hrorph is his call, right? Right?
And, it’s a tangent, I know, but if only I could tell him about the postman. He is becoming clever. He is stealthy now. He approaches sometimes so quietly it is like a dream. (Okay, it is a dream. I’m always asleep that time of day.) He comes in my dream, but I wake and he is there – right there at the door – and I bark and he goes away. I am doing my job with this evil human in blue, but one day…what if I’m not here? Why does Craig not know the danger? And he doesn’t believe me.
It is vast, this love I feel for my humans. Vaster, even, than the chasm between us. Way bigger. Man oh man, how these people make me happy. But it is ponderous. Human nature. Dog nature. It’s simply more than I can fully contemplate today. Real nature, with trees and air and animals. This I don’t have to contemplate. This I do so naturally.
My head is heavy with all this. I only got 14 hours of sleep yesterday. I must go nap.