Monday, January 26, 2009

Halloween: A dog's perspective

So Halloween 2008 has come and gone. I have to say, that I was excited for this one. We have been at the house here in Methuen for 5 years now, but had yet to actually participate in Halloween as a tradition in the neighborhood. For the first year, we were so new and so busy getting the house ready to live and settle down in, that we just didn't do it. We just turned off all the lights, and put the TV on low. Since then, at least one of us has worked. Some years, we've both been gone. This was the first year that I put "Halloween candy" on my grocery shopping lest for the week, and made sure that our calendar was clear so that we could hand out candy. Now, if you are reading this and know me even a little bit, you know that I am NOT a fan of children. You're therefore probably really confused at why on earth I would take my hard earned money to buy candy and sit at home on a Friday night to hand it out to CHILDREN who knock at my door. Because its fun, that's why! Sure, I may not like kids on a regular basis, but I sure do remember what it was like to be one. I remember how much fun Halloween was, and thought it would be nice for the neighbors kids to come on over and get some candy...and meet the girls, and see that they are nice. You know, considering that usually when they see my dogs they are puffing themselves up, barking their heads off, and they are chasing them back and forth behind our fence. Sure, they're 20 pounds and look like some one left Lassie in the dryer too long, but any barking dog behind a fence can be scary. So, I put on their costumes (hotdogs: one ketchup, one mustard) and planned on them "greeting" the kids at the door (although behind an x-pen gate...I didn't want the kids to be freaked out, which they probably would be as two hotdogs came rushing out the door, jumping up at them, trying to "inspect" their trick or treat bags...). But, alas, as the night went on, we didn't have much success in showing the kids of the neighborhood how friendly the girls really were. We didn't get that many trick or treaters, you see. I don't know whether it is because we live on a short, dead end street, which lies off of a very busy main one. (I admit, this what I have been trying to convince myself is the reason...) Or whether it's because my neighbors all think we are antisocial, vicious dog owning Jehovah's Witnesses who don't celebrate anything. (Which, in actuality is probably the true reason, as we don't hang Christmas lights, send Valentines, and NEVER hand out candy...?)
But, as we had so little trick-or-treaters, I had a lot of time in-between the sporadic knocks on the door to think. I looked at Shelby, who was laying somewhat uncomfortably on the couch, owing to her lopsided buns, and then found Heidi who looked even more awkward trying to get upside-down with not only equally lopsided buns, but also a wiggly string of stuffed "ketchup" down her back. I looked at them and thought, they must think that people are INSANE. I mean, they see us doing weird things all the time, but this, this "Halloween" thing, must truly take the cake. So, I decided to ask my girls what they thought of this highly "colorful" holiday tradition of ours. Here's how the interview went:

Me: OK girls, Id like to get your opinion of that happened here the other night. It was our first time doing it, and I want to know what you thought.
Shelby: Oh, you mean the other night that was so embarrassing that we try and block it out of our little sheltie minds?
Heidi: Come on, Shelby. It wasn't THAT bad. Sure, it was...strange...but it wasn't terrible. You just think it was awful because those noisy things that live across the street won't fear you anymore.
Shelby: You're darn right! Here I am, trying to make those noisy things stay away from our house, and yard, and people, and...SPACE, and there she goes inviting them over...and FEEDING THEM! Don't lie to me, I SMELLED food. I KNOW what was in that bowl. I could smell it a mile away. And instead of giving the food to us, you gave it to THEM!!!
Me: Well, you see girls, on Halloween kids dress up and knock on people's doors and say "trick or treat". You don't want a trick, do you? So you give them a treat so they will go away. (I tried to explain it as simply as I could so they could understand...I didn't want to get into the whole "All-Hallows-Eve" schpeil where I'm explaining how the tradition went back centuries and blah blah blah)
Shelby: Oh yea, that sounds WICKED SMAT...You know those things that you have me chase sometimes, those "see-galls" or whatever they are...those things that fly?
Me: yes, the seagulls, but I don't know what...
Shelby: those noisy things, they're like those see-guls. You feed them, and they keep coming back! I try so hard to get them to GO AWAY! And now they're going to keep coming back! You fed them! They'll keep looking for food!
Heidi: Oh come on, Shelby. They're not so bad. One of them said that we were so cute, remember? I wish they could have stayed to pet us...I LOOOOVVVEE being pat...Maybe they would have rubbed my belly. Oooohhh....bbbeeelllllyyyy rruuuubbbbsss.....
Me: Heidi, are you purring?
Heidi: (a dreamy look on her face, a glazed look in her eyes) What? Purring? No, no....I'm..."growling". Happy growling. Yeah.
Shelby: Heidi, that's so ridiculous. Why would you want them to TOUCH you? I mean, hello? They're loud. And...loud. And they come near our house. I have to puff my self up, and do my big dog bark that makes me sound like a rottweiler to get them to go away. And you want them to stay?!?!?
Me: Ok, girls, lets get back to the topic here, Halloween.
Shelby: Ok, I'll get back to the topic. First, you dress us up as "hot dogs". I KNOW what hot dogs are. And they're for eating. I did not want to be eaten. And I did not see any food. Second, people knocked at the door. I HATE that! They're not allowed near my door! And then, they all looked weird. I mean, weirder than usual. I saw them and knew that I was going to have to try even harder to scare them away. I mean, clearly they were wearing things to make them look more intimidating. But I wasn't fooled. I would just have to puff myself up more, and then bark louder. But do you know how HARD it is to puff myself up wearing buns!?!?! And MUSTARD down my back!?!?! It was impossible! And then you put the collar that sprays sit-roe-nilla that I hate, so I couldn't bark. And THEN you gave them my food!!! I hated the stupid howliday. It was dumb...and I do not want to do it again!
Me: Well...Thank you....Shelby, for that, uh, "enlightening" take on Halloween. I'll take your views into consideration for next year. But what about you, Heidi? What did you think?
Heidi: Well, I thought it was ok. I mean, I wish the things that make loud noises would have stayed to pet me, and feed me. I was a little sad that I couldn't lay upside-down in my crate, and I'm not sure I'm a fan of the "give away food to strangers instead of feeding my poor, starving dogs" idea, so maybe next year we can change that. But it wasn't so bad. I liked snuggling with you at the end of the night when all of the things that make noise stopped knocking at the door, but It wasn't as nice when you squeezed me so hard I thought my eyes would pop out of my little sheltie head...
Me: Oh...I'm sorry about that Heidi...but see, on Halloween they put scary movies on TV, and, well...I haven't seen Poltergeist in a long time, and it freaked me out. I didn't realize I was squeezing the life out of you.
Heidi: That's quite alright. The important thing was that I got attention. I mean...that I made you feel better.
Me: Shelby, any closing thoughts?
Shelby: Yea, is it food time yet??

Clearly, my dogs are very opinionated about the whole Halloween ordeal. Not that I blame them at all. I mean, how weird must it be that suddenly, when night falls after a normal, just-like-any-other day, we grab our dogs and stuff them into costumes? I mean, sure, my girls wear coats when it's cold and snowing, and booties when the ground is icy or rocky, but the costumes that we often ask them to wear are not that dog-friendly. They restrict their movement, have weird attachments, and surely make them hot! Then, if that's not odd enough, people start knocking on the door! Now, if you're a dog-loving hermit like me, we don't get much company. Most of the time we go to other peoples homes because they want to avoid pulling dog hair out of their food (a condiment in my house), pulling dog hair off of their clothes (a new accessory for us) and avoiding the "doggy smell" (a wonderfully woodsy, outdoorsy musk). More oddly still, is that we don't invite these strangers in, but we have them wait at the door, and then hand over food! And then they leave! What MUST our dogs think of us? I'm sure, that in all dog-honesty (and we all know that dogs don't lie) that they are thinking the same things that they think when they see us taking showers, getting dressed, eating with silverware, and (very strange indeed) shaking hands instead of sniffing butts: That these two legged things might do things VERY differently than we do, but we sure do love them anyway.
And I sure do love my girl's right back.

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