Slalom for Dogs

Black_dog slalom

2013-11-17 – The north and south boundaries of the east half of our neighborhood park are marked by a line of posts, separated six feet on center. The posts are domed concrete cylinders that are approximately one foot in diameter and stand about 18 inches above the ground. An unearthed post reveals that they extend about two feet into the ground.

The posts all have a small hole about a foot off the ground oriented so that, perhaps, a chain once connected them. There is no sign of a chain today and no rust marks. We’ve been in the neighborhood 18 years and we never saw what connected the posts. The posts presumably define a boundary between the park district property and two alleys, which are owned by the City of Chicago. Our public institutions are very keen about marking their property. On the west side of the park, a fence separates school property from the park, vigilantly keeping school children out of the playground there.

The concrete posts are also cherished landmarks for my dog Lefty who keeps them well watered.

Lefty is a jittery dog and cannot walk a straight line. Although we’ve walked him near the posts for many years, it only recently dawned on me that I could easily have him run a slalom there. My niece Valarie, who is a dog pro, always says that we could calm Lefty by giving him a job. Maybe this is it!

I always thought I would prefer getting Lefty a job as a burger flipper at the local McDonalds. I know there’s been some controversy recently over minimum wage jobs like this, but minimum wage would be okay for a dog. The problem with this idea is that Lefty doesn’t have hands. Under the American’s with Disabilities Act, accommodation should be made. But I’m not sure of Lefty’s status under the law. He is Canadian. Although he did enter this country legally, I’m not sure he would be covered by the ADA.

So running the slalom is his job.

We talk about meaningful work, at least for ourselves. But I am wondering if running the slalom has any meaning for Lefty. It certainly would be amusing to us as a stupid pet trick. But Lefty barely notices the posts except to pee on them. He is more interested in sniffing the ground and barking at the geese that occasionally land. Lefty derives meaning in his life from being a dog, apparently not from slalom running.

Some people thing that we humans derive meaning in life from some higher pet-master who lives in a place called heaven. I don’t know about that. I find my greatest meaning in life just being a human, which apparently includes being amused by a dog running zig-zag between a bunch of concrete posts in a park.

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