Educating Betty

“Since I’ve read that book, my relationship with Barkey has changed. I think he’s looking at me more intently.” She was speaking of Garth Stein’s The Art Of Racing In The Rain, which is like Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, only from a dog’s point of view. The dog’s name is Enzo, and he is uncannily perceptive (a trait we all wish came ingrained in husbands). Enzo lives with Denny, Eve and their daughter Zoe.

Denny is a race car driver, a profession that Enzo greatly admires since he has learned so much about it from his master. (As you can see, he’s no ordinary dog.) Enzo also knows a secret about Eve and her evil headaches; he can smell the cancer that lives in her head. It’s mushroomy and musty. He wishes he had a way to let them know about her illness, but he can’t talk, which is a constant source of frustration to him (as is the fact that he has no thumbs). More importantly, Enzo believes deeply in reincarnation and is set on coming back as a human. We see him prepare for this hoped for eventuality and hear his astute observations about the human race. Would that we were all so smart.

I finished the book this morning and notice that I, too, am looking at dog Betty differently. I realize that I have made a lot of assumptions that may be wrong. Take the Cooking Channel, for instance. Perhaps I have jumped to wild conclusions that Betty likes watching Cupcake Wars, The Barefoot Contessa and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, when maybe she’d rather be watching Downton Abbey reruns. Perhaps everything I think she enjoys is just all one big projection.

Enzo watches a lot of TV…all the CSI, NCIS, all the lawyer shows, race car videos, educational TV, which is why he knows so much and will come back as a smart human. What am I doing for Betty? Preparing her to come back as a humanoid who eats voluminous amounts of food? Or maybe a chef? Or even just a great cook? The latter isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that I’m limiting her options.

Tonight things are going to change around here. I’m sure she knows everything there is to know about cupcakes. We’ll try a Spanish channel for awhile, maybe subscribe to the French channel so she can converse with the husband; hit the history channel a few nights so she can see the Normandy invasion; throw in a little Shakespeare, “My Kingdom for a horse,” and all that; The Good Wife so she can familiarize herself with court procedures; Duck Dynasty for taxidermy etc.

Betty, we are duty bound to see that you are more well rounded, and you can’t get that way by just watching the cooking channel…or can you?

One comment

  1. Robin Sommerstein says:

    We are all guilty of anthropomorphism! Sounds like this book perpetuates the act.

    The dog behaviorist told me when my dog barks and I guide him for a timeout in the bathroom and tell him, “No barking”, he does not understand why he gets a 5 minute timeout. He stops barking but doesn’t relate it to what made him bark in the first place.
    I believe the Super Nanny uses this behavior modification on toddlers. Anyway, the behaviorist advised me that discipline does not work at all on dogs and neither does loud talking, e.g. “No, stop that barking”.

    Heathcliff watched a youtube dog walker trying to handle his lurching and barking pooch. He sat on my lap and was memorized by the video. I’d like to think he learned something, but fawgeddaboudit.

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