Dogs Can’t Climb

What every cat and squirrel knows…

Photo by Roman.

I was going to leave it with just the photo of the tree because it struck me that the photo was essentially from a dog’s perspective. But no dog? No squirrel? No cat? Why, what a bunch of low-down click-bait!

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A dogged investigation in the park. Photo by Roman.

So here, as an addendum, is a photo of a neighborhood dog that I took last June when I was taking photos of the 2021 Artists of the Wall. Said puppy seemed convinced that I was up to no good but its human reminded the dog that they had places to go and bones to chew. How is a dog to argue with that?

No New Messages

Fido’s net

Photos by Roman.

…on this doggy bulletin board.

“Huh?” you say?

Look: When a dog pees, it’s never just a matter of Fluphy relieving himself. It’s also a statement that Fluphy was here, and not just that Fluphy was here but many of the other things of importance to an interested dog. Fluphy’s health. Fluphy’s sex. What Fluphy has been eating. Maybe even Fluphy’s mood. All to be read by Fido and Spot and Puggy and Wee and all and sundry who come with a nose that can see.

And they reply with a pee of their own, maybe as perfunctory as a “like” or as voluminous as a treatise. Or maybe they’re just trolling.

Back in the days when the internet, for most of us, meant a long-distance telephone call to a desktop computer with a dial-up modem, there was a volunteer service that would pick up and deliver messages between message boards. Yep, it was called FIDO Net.

What with the current fad of teaching dogs and cats to speak, maybe pee has become an underground grapevine, a samizdat between the feral and the domestic. Careful! They may eat us all, someday.

But until then, they mostly keep us sane… or maybe just less deranged… Otherwise I might suggest that you author your own message to see what the dogs have to say in reply.

You’ve Got Mail!

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Peemail. Photo by Roman.

Post Script:
Don’t believe everything that I’ve written here. However. Dogs and cats do get information from scents, some of which is social and some of which overlaps that which humans gain through conversation and correspondence. But just what “some” is is still a matter of research and speculation.

And yes: People are teaching dogs and cats to “talk” and there is a small community of folks (and creatures) on YouTube where their efforts are documented. Whether it constitutes speech or not is a debatable assertion best left to those who study such things; I don’t know that there is a consensus on the matter. But it seems pretty obvious to me that at least some of the creatures have adapted the process (whether “speech” or not) to signal their desires and needs.

If you’re curious about this, my two favorites are Billi the cat and Bunny the dog.

Billi is an older cat and living proof that you can indeed teach old cats new tricks. But pause (begging your pardon) before trying this with your cat. After all, do you really want to know that your cat can not stand the really great music you are playing or that your Significant Other is making too much damned noise? For a while, “mad” was one of her favorite words.

Bunny the dog is a young whippersnapper with an existentialist bend… or maybe it’s just her humans… hard to say. But she is a genuinely joyful character (as most dogs are) and apparently pretty articulate, though sometimes she babbles. That may actually be one of her more interesting behaviors.

And then there is the question of identity, the conscious “I”. Both Billi and Bunny have confronted mirrors and seem to understand… about like humans confronting quantum physics for the first time. There’s also all sorts of research on this subject, including trail cams posted by mirrors in the wilderness. Some creatures seem to figure it out. Others clearly do not. And with others, it’s hard to say.

It’s an interesting question with implications ranging from religion to ethics to diet to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.

For my part, I promise not to eat any dog or cat with whom I am personally acquainted.

The Landlord

The management company decreed that there should be an inspection of all the units in the building, just the safety appliances you understand, just a moment of your time, you need not even be home and truly we’d rather you were not. And so it was that I was home to receive that knock at the door for that brief inspection, truly brief, no longer than a rectal exam but alas even less pleasant…

I exaggerate.*

Yet it did leave me feeling rather venomous toward the company and that brought to mind a long gone poetry ‘zine that I had subscribed to back in the day when I had hallucinatory aspirations to be a poet. I saved it for this poem by the late John Dickson. I saved it for just an occasion like this. I should have saved it with the aspiration to write as well as this:

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From “Poetry &”, December 1976, scanned by Roman.

Poetry & was edited by JoAnn Castagna. It was printed on newsprint and folded to letter size, an inexpensive way of printing a larger press run. I can imagine distribution being something more than a chore. In any case, I don’t recall the ‘zine lasting much beyond Volume 1.

VoilĂ . With this post, I’ve had a revenge of sorts, the best kind: mostly imaginary.


* Also, it was as much me as them. Regardless, Dickson’s poem addresses, in a general way, the relations involved.

The View from the Outside

Photo by Roman.

Graceland Cemetery from the Red Line CTA train.

Occasionally, when I commuted regularly, I would see a coyote or two in the cemetery, hunting rodents or birds. Once one coyote looked up at the passing train, returning my stare. It laughed, imagining the train to be a mobile can of dog food. I did not appreciate the humor, but it’s useless to argue with a dog.

What I Saw of the Chicago Climate Strike

I’ll leave it to others to estimate the crowd size, but it managed to overflow the Federal Plaza in Chicago’s Loop. That is an accomplishment. The program was totally inaudible except to those in front and near the stage. This is a common problem for downtown demonstrations, but not universal. I suspect it requires some professional intervention regarding sound design. This also meant that there were actually as many as three or four different rallies taking place at the same time, depending on the number of bullhorns in use.

I’ll also leave it to others to estimate the political consequences of the rally. I was pleased to have attended.

Click on any of the photos below to enlarge the thumbnail.