Because we are going to swap dog stories today, I looked up the word “dogmatism” in a psychology book. On Page 573 I read, “Dogmatic persons find it difficult to change their beliefs” and was delighted that it fits right in with the topic at hand.

You might have heard me say that I don’t see any sense in keeping a pet that you can’t eat. A Maine man teaches his calves to graze quietly in the assigned areas. A small amount of mooing is tolerated as they age because it contributes to that pastoral ambiance that is treasured by the bed-and-breakfast guest.

As the summer passes, the man learns to love and appreciate his muscular steer friends, who convert ugly weeds and bushes into valuable protein, even as they contribute nitrogen and other valuable nutrients to the rocky soil. In November, he eats them.

But only a very foolish old man never changes his mind. Dogmatism is eventually trumped by epiphany, and there comes a time in every man’s life when he realizes it would be nice to have a pet that did absolutely nothing but wander around in his house and keep him company. So – keep your eyes open. If you can find a dog that can be taught the Heimlich maneuver and administer CPR, I will bring it to my home and feed it.

My wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, likes dogs. One night, while visiting her daughter, she prepared to let the resident Loki Dog out for his evening run. Finding the electronic shock collar with the metal thing hanging from it that kept Loki from running beyond his allocated bounds, she slipped it over his head and let him outside.

When the dog came back in, her daughter said, “That’s not his electronic collar. It’s the adjustable head lamp that I use to read in bed at night.”

Marsha says that some dogs go wild when they hear a vacuum cleaner and will attack the machine. Other dogs are hunters, who, at any opportune moment, will grab a chicken. Although the guilty one looks up at you with innocent, loving eyes, he is betrayed by a few feathers around the jowls.

Have you noticed that the butterflies fluttering about the cans of dog food on your TV screen make dog food look so good that the children beg to try it? Our friends, who are training their dog, had some dog treats in a little dish on the table last night. They looked so crisp and tasty, Marsha had all she could do to keep her hands off them.

“Oh, see how he likes me,” you’ve heard a child cry as she wiped dog slobber from her face. Let’s be honest. Dogs don’t lick people because they like people. Dogs are after the salt or the minuscule food particles on your skin.

Dogs are very self-centered people. If you let a dog run loose under the table at a child’s birthday party, there will be no cake ground into the carpet to clean up later.

And then there are border collies. A man at the Common Ground Fair told me that he was once with a bunch of dog walkers out in the woods and, without noticing, what had happened was that the border collies had herded all their owners together. He and his friends were all so close they were touching – shoulder to shoulder and chest to chest. Owning a border collie is a good way to quickly make new friends if you’re young and lonesome and living in a city.

You have read of faithful dogs, usually residing in Texas, who follow their owner’s casket to the cemetery. They spend the rest of their lives lying on the grave in celebrated desolation, refusing all book and movie contracts.

And then there are dogs who don’t care if they fish or cut bait. You might have read that although an elderly man died and was buried only a mile from his home in Washington County, his faithless dog did not lie down on the grave and slowly expire there near his master.

This dog didn’t seem to know what is expected of even a halfway decent Maine hound. Unfamiliar with the mandatory behavior of bereaving dogs, this careless animal didn’t have to be dragged off and tied up by a good neighbor to keep it from returning to the gravesite.

This dog didn’t lie out there in the snow and rain day and night, refusing to eat or to be comforted. This mindless mutt didn’t wear a deep path in the dirt, walking endlessly around the headstone, growling and snarling at anyone who came near.

The reporter covering the story said, “As a matter of fact, Old Sam’s death didn’t seem to bother the dog one way or another. There was a fellow in the crowd at graveside who must have slopped some bacon grease on his pants while frying up breakfast, and when the gathering broke up, the dog hung right on and jumped in the man’s car when the door opened.”

If a man has ever left you for a younger woman, would you be surprised to hear that this faithless dog wasted no time in locating a new source of food and worldly comforts?

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website:

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