Dogs ponder meaning of Fourth of July

Clyde Davis: Local Columnist

I know I am not supposed to overhear these conversations. They generally take place late at night, in the back yard, when no humans are around. Since our dogs sleep outside in the summer, they have the chance to sort out and process events with no human ears present. Normally, only my 6-year-old grandson is able to understand what they say.

However, I stepped out into the back yard the other night, lured by the hope (turned out to be in vain), of watching a storm move in. The dogs weren’t aware of my presence, at first, and I overheard this conversation. The inspiration was, apparently, the first barrage of firecrackers marking the approach of July Fourth.

Bonnie, the Westie, was scratching her back against her favorite juniper tree.

“It’s like this, little lass. Whaat they doo is, they trry to change theirrr envirronment, mind you. Like the airr conditioners they always be messin’ with. Now, a long-hairr dog like I be, we love to lay underr the airr vent, dinna get me wrrong! But would we spend our prrecious time tinkerin’ wi’ it? Nay by a long shot !! The noises is the same thing, ya see.”

Kassidy, the Jack Russell (or whatever she is) was bouncing around, looking distracted, as usual.

“Oooh, ooh, ooh! I know, Aunt Bonnie! I know, I know why they do it! They do it for us, for us, don’t they? Huh?”

Bonnie turned her head quizzically, foofing her moustache.

“Kassidy, they dinna be buildin’ theirr worlds arround us. They love us, to be sure, but all that they do doesna revolve arround your little doggie worrld.”

Kassidy, who was trying very hard to focus on something — to focus on anything — gave up and began to chase her tail.

“Oh, wow, Auntie, well I like those … like those … I forgot what I was going to say. Oh, yes, I like those picnics where they give us lefovover weenies and hamburgers and … and … those curly things that taste like cheese.”

Bonnie placed her head between her paws. “Ya wouldna be meaning Cheetos, would ye? Cheetos, to a middle-aged dog like meself, be just another word forrr weight gain. But we’rre na the rreason forr the picnics, wee girl.”

Kassidy, distracted by a June bug, stood up on two legs to try to sniff the insect. “Oh wow, oh wow. Wow, wow, wow. Well, I was wanting to know why … I think I was …”

Bonnie pricked her ears. “Peoplegone it, can ye nay be still forr once! That’s betterrr. What it conerrrns is frreedom, and the celebration thereof.”

“You mean like, when the bearded Clyde lets us run in the alley? Huh, huh, huh? I like the pecan trees.”

“Therrre be strrrange things about humans, Kass. One thing bein’ therre is allus one or some that tries to lord it over the others, or take theirrr freedom. Now, unlike a good alpha dog, this freedom taker needn’t be the smartest, orr strongest, orr lead for the good of the pack.
Frrrequently, it be the one with a lot of money.”

“Oooh, ooh. I ate some money once. It tasted yuckky.”

Bonnie sighed resignedly. “Yes, well, be that as it may, this day of picnics is aboot frreedom, and the hope that noone everr trry to rrrule by takin’ away the rights of humans to speak theirr minds, orr exprress theirrr choice freely.”

“Could they do that, Aunt Bonnie? Could they take away peoples’ right to choose, to speak and think without fear of re- recrim- recrimination?” She smiled pertly, proud of such a big word.

I was anxious to hear Bonnie’s reply. Over six years, I’ve come to respect her stoic Scottish wisdom. Unfortunately, at this point they spotted me, and switched over to “code.”

The rest of the conversation, then, sounded something like this: “Aroof. Aroo. Woof, woof, arooroo. Snuffle. Bowf, bowf.” I’d love to know what I missed.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: