When I look back over the last year, I realize that my dog accomplished some pretty impressive things, even though some of his claims were totally bogus. Yes, Happy, I know you were missing for two days. But I don't believe it was because you were helping to capture Bin Laden.
Regardless, here are some of the remarkable things my golden retriever actually did pull off in 2011:
Back in February, my dog began to sing out of the blue. This would have been pretty cool if it weren't for the fact he only knew one song. And, believe me, "Hollaback Girl" really starts to lose its charm after a while. Within months, he finally switched. But is it much of an improvement to hear Hap rap Jay-Z?
That's a question for bigger brains than mine.
In March, my retriever learned how to pull his head out of his collar during a walk and break free. I probably would've been impressed by this move if it hadn't happened on Garth Road in Scarsdale at rush hour. Hap weaved through traffic, and there was more cursing from motorists than any three episodes of "Mob Wives."
As a result, I now have Happy trussed up in a full body harness when we go out. It works, but this thing looks like something from the S&M section at Elmsford's The Romantic Depot. And the come-ons he gets now are pretty frightening. Especially since not all of them are from dogs!
Around the middle of the year, my golden retriever finally learned to sit and give people his paw, which would have been adorable, had he not tried to give them simultaneously. And hadn't fallen over.
I've remained undaunted at continuing to train Happy with verbal commands. However, I probably need to use simpler stuff than, "Happy, do them sequentially, not concurrently." Rye policemen have noticed this falling-over business, and they think I'm abusing the dog. So if I'm not careful, pretty soon sequentially and concurrently are going to be used on me to describe my choice of prison sentences.
In September, the retriever began his habit of snarfing up a big mouthful of grass, then swallowing it—suddenly! Of course, that second part is due to my nasty sense of humor. I really should stop saying to Happy, "Cheese it, here come the cops." At first, I was worried about my dog eating this stuff, but it seems to really chill him out (just like the other "grass"). It's all pretty acceptable, though. Except that now, after these walks, all Happy wants to do is listen to "Dark Side of the Moon."
But you take the good with the bad.
Perhaps my dog's biggest accomplishment of 2011 was learning to swim. This is something that golden retrievers are supposed to do naturally, except these "designer dogs" now come with "service contracts." "No swimming" was on Happy's. As if "Doesn't do windows" wasn't infuriating enough.
However, this October, we went to Rye Beach. There, I threw the retriever's favorite treat into Long Island Sound, and off he went. That was really a thrill to watch, even if he came out of that polluted water with a syringe in his mouth.
I just wish I'd thought of this "treat" idea sooner. It's really motivating. If I'd told Hap that Bin Laden had Snausages in his pocket, he would've captured that creep a lot sooner. This is of course, if Happy wasn't lying about where he was when he vanished for two days.
Happy's tenuous relationship to truth? Hey, that's something he—and I—can always work on. After all, there's always next year.