Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Saint Bernards Go Marching

Sailor here.

Do you like music? I like music. So does our puppy, Bilgewater.

Mom says every registered dog has a call name and that the puppy’s call name is Jib. But I call him Bilgewater. Mom also says that every show dog has a long ACK registered name. My long ACK registered name is Shalimar’s Stilvalley In Cahoots. When I compete in dog shows, this is my name in the program. Boy, am I glad Mom calls me Sailor. Bilgewater’s long ACK registered name must be NoNoBadDog-LeaveIt. I’d love to see THAT one in a program some day.

And when my name is in the program and I compete in dog shows, we all pile into the Dog Car and drive, drive, drive.

When we are riding in the Dog Car, Mom plays music for me. Sometimes she plays rock and Rollover. (I love Rollover, but I think it’s called Natural Balance now.) Bilgee loves listening to Rollover Beethoven, a song about beetles, cookies, a Saint Bernard, and a funny dog trick. He loves this song because rolling over was his first dog trick and he got Rollover when Mom clicked and treated. He likes Saint Bernards, too; there was one in his puppy class that he actually got to play with.

When we are riding in the Dog Car and Mom doesn’t know the way, she plays another of my favorite composers, MostArt. I mean, what’s not to like about a gang of wolves? Mom also plays Dog Gone Classical Music to help keep the puppy’s tummy calm. It has the added benefit of helping Mom find her sense of direction so we don’t get lost.

Sometimes Mom picks songs by Tammy Swinette and Cowdog Hank when we are out in the country and drive by pigs and cattle. Bilgewater sings along with his favorite Cowdog Hank song just to make Zoe mad. “Move over little dog, cause the big dog’s moving in….” Zoe pretends she is not amused, but I can see the tip of her tail wagging in time to the music. She likes being the little dog who rules.

Mom sings this same song to me, too, when I am heeling and sit in heel position a little too far away…”Move it on over, move it on over…” she hums, and I move over and Mom smiles. She sings this to me if I forget and sit crooked during our Rally exercises, too.

But she doesn’t have to sing to me in Rally much any more because I am a star. I have mastered the Johann exercise, a really hard one which makes a lot of dogs lose their composer. It’s called Bach one-two-three steps. This was difficult to learn, and Mom would almost go into a fugue state until I figured it out. But she taught me to back up next to a short wall, and now she smiles and says, “Good Sailor” if we find the Bach sign on the cone.

Speaking of Bach, when we are entered in a real obedience trial (which for Mom really is a trial), Mom has been known to gulp Rescue Remedy before she goes into the ring. All that music and flowers tend to make her smell less Nervous. Which is why the class is called Nervous A or B, I suppose, and why Mom was In Cahoots with Bach when I got all those legs. This was very fitting because of my long ACK registered name.

There’s one song I really hate, though, and it’s not Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog by Johnny Cash. (That’s Zoe’s favorite.) When we go into the ring and Mom starts singing about a duck being somebody’s mother, then I know we are going to heel, heel, heel, heel, heel. I don’t know why she’s picked this song. After my last duck disaster, I am a little leery of ducks, and when she does her duck named Suzy thing, I get very nervous. I mean, what if a rogue duck pops up in the middle of the ring? Then what do I do? Well, I lag. That’s what I do. And I forget to sit at the first halt. I do wish Mom would pick another song. I never know if she’s just singing to sing, or if she’s trying to make the rogue duck less Nervous.

When we are riding in the Dog Car, Mom sometimes tries to amuse us with singing dog trivia. Did you know that this Dog Dad (named Rossini after his favorite pasta dish) wrote a piece of dog music each year for his dog on his dog’s birthday? Mom’s trivia can be disappointing, though. She didn’t even know the name of Rossini’s dog. Or the names of his birthday songs. I’d much rather listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Nothing like a piece of music about dog food additives, but Mom’s trivia questions can drown out the best part, the dog barking in the background.

When we are riding in the Dog Car for a long time, Mom listens to Opurra, which is not cats purring like it should be, but sounds more like Bilgewater in the morning when he wants to get out of his crate and start his busy day. Mom says he is a soprano, and if nighttime television is any measure, I hope he doesn’t start shooting up the neighborhood any time soon. Maybe he can wait until I go to the Rainbow Bridge.

When we are riding in the car, Bilgewater sleeps, I lie down and stare out the windows, and Zoe stops pacing in her crate and sometimes even sits down. Mom plays Going Home dog songs and sings along. She sings about a hound dog, a dog named Bingo, and a dog named Blue, but all this singing can sometimes hurt my ears. One day, I swear, we three dogs are going to join in and have a pack howl right there in the back of the Dog Car.

Today it’s started raining, we are home from a Dog Car trip, and my ears are still full of Hank the Cowdog. Zoe is camping out in Bilgewater’s doghouse and won’t make room for him, so the puppy has had to cram himself into Zoe’s dogloo. I can hear him singing under his breath, “This dog house here is mighty small, but it's sure better than no house at all.”

Zoe will not move it on over.