In my last blog, I paid all due homage to the cat. It's only fitting then, that I turn my attention today to the dog, the creature who comes into our homes and thinks one of two things. 1.) It's a human being. 2.) Human beings are gods. Well, one other thing... 3.) Is it dinner time yet?
And so I begin today with a passage, previously only seen by obscure scholars, revealing the very origins of an ancient animosity for the hounds among us, an animosity that continues to this day....
Long ago, before the days of written language, Volash, the very first postman, went out on his very first rounds, sent to deliver a rock from Ugg to Hrashgor in what is now Bulgaria. And it was, in those days, that Volash made the journey to the encampment of Hrashgor to deliver the rock, and was attacked by Hrashgor's Sabre-toothed Poodle Fifi. From that day on, the antagonism between dog and postman was born. A war of permanent hostility had broken out, and nothing would ever be the same. ~from the Secret History of Mail
Ah, yes, the ongoing mutual war between dog and letter carrier. It's completely understandable. Dogs are territorial. They love their family, and yet regularly through the week, this stranger in a uniform comes onto their property and leaves something that's clearly unwanted. The dogs do see it. They hear the sigh of dismay coming from their human as they sort through the bills left in the mailbox that day. At some houses, the mail comes through a slot in the door. Put yourself in the dog's position. Sitting in the front hall, and that slot opens up, and some hand puts a packet of letters through the slot. You'd bark too. You might even plot and scheme for the day when by chance you might be outside when that stranger comes around. Perhaps then, justice might come in the form of a good bite to the ankle or leg.
For the better part of my dad's working career, he was a letter carrier. Now before I go on, I should tell you that he's not the sort who lies. He's strongly against any falsehood.... even a white lie. We all know that white lies are handy for social occasions, to maintain the relationship with a friend who, for example, might be a bad cook. So, if asked how you liked the steamed octopus, you might lie through your teeth and say, "oh, it was fabulous!"
My dad, on the other hand, will answer with a gruff "no comment." That, my friends, speaks volumes. He doesn't believe in the social graces of a good white lie. Any lie, in his opinion, is just wrong. That said, however, he's not above exaggeration.
Growing up, I have vivid memories of him coming home, and saying things like "I nearly lost a leg today." He'd go on and tell the story of a killer dog during his rounds. It would invariably be ten feet long and six feet tall, barking so loud it could be heard from miles away. It would have teeth a foot long each, and it would be breathing fire. If left to its own devices, it would smash right through a brick wall at the very smell of postman's blood. Meanwhile, the dog owner would inevitably say, "Oh, my dog loves people!" This, while according to Dad, the dog seemed to be eyeing him up as to which part he wanted to devour first. The story would end with the usual "I was lucky to get out of there with my life this time." And of course, we'd get to asking, "So did you lose another leg today?"
It might have been easier just to carry a few dog biscuits in his bag each day, and toss them over the fences to the dogs along the way. I know some letter carriers do just that. It says to the dog that yes, this stranger brings things here that my humans don't like, but on the other hand, he brings me dog treats, so I think he's okay. It defuses the tension. A letter carrier with dog biscuits is the dogs versus postmen equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It means... peace between hated enemies in the longest running war on the planet is possible.
Unless you're talking about a sabre toothed Poodle. Then all bets are off.