I’m Just Rollin’ Along, Like My Dog

26 Mar

by Roger White

Ralph Cooper White is our family dog, and he is all there, let me tell ya. What I mean when I say he’s all there is that what we have is one royally rotund, prolifically plump Fat Ralphpooch. Now, dachshunds are called weenie dogs because of their unique resemblance to foot-long frankfurters, but as weenie dogs go, Ralph is more of a cheese danish. A round, brown, long-haired morning pastry of a hound. Actually, he’s more like a hairy little UFO. But we’ve been trying.

In our efforts to slim Ralph’s frame down to a reasonable facsimile of a normal dog’s, wifey and I take him on nightly walks in the neighborhood. Ralph takes his own sweet time during these forays, so much so that we practically drag him down the street. My dog read dogwife told me, however, that we shouldn’t rush him; she read somewhere that to a dog a daily walk is somewhat akin to reading the newspaper. It’s the dog’s time to relax, his opportunity to unwind. If that’s the case, then Ralph nightly reads the entire Sunday double edition of The Wall Street Journal, cover to cover.

Ralph does just about anything to stall the walking process. Sniff this, pee on that, observe the trees, bark at the squirrels, look in neighbors’ windows (wait, that’s me), etc., etc. But the one delaying tactic he uses that drives me nuts is his stubborn habit of rolling in junk. Not just any ordinary junk, mind you. Ralph loves to execute full body rolls in nasty, smelly dead, decaying things—mainly worms.

It makes you think twice about letting your pooch sleep in your bed when he carries the lingering odor of rotten death with him. Many times my wife will wake up in the middle of the night and smack me in the head. “Honey, honestly!” she’ll scold.

“It wasn’t me! Ralph just moved up next to your head!”

Wondering if perhaps Ralph possessed some oddball fascination with either mutant stink or death and putrefaction, I got online and found that this is actually quite a normal behavior. I shall quote from the ASPCA for Kids Site: “Rolling around in stuff that makes people want to barf—be it dead squirrels, poop or rotting garbage—is an instinct that comes from dogs’ wolf ancestors. Scientists don’t know for sure why dogs have that instinct, but they have a few ideas. The most popular theory is that dogs roll yuuuuckaround in the yucky stuff to cover up their natural smell, giving them camouflage and helping them be sneakier hunters. Another idea is that dogs are putting the funky smell on their bodies so they can alert other dogs to what they found. (When other dogs sniff your dog, they’ll get the exciting news that there’s a dead animal nearby.) Still a third idea is that dogs love to shimmy on gross things to claim them as their own—they don’t want any other dogs getting in on that prime piece of grossness.”

Hmm, interesting. So somewhere down the line, a fat cheese danish of a wild wolf rolled in dead stuff, too. One theory holds that Ralph slathers his body in an odor to throw others off the track, eh? I could use that myself. Say, if there was a scent I could ensconce my body in to avoid weekend chores. Men would pay good money for such an aroma, believe me. I imagine it might smell like sweat and wood shavings or something chore-related—maybe grass clippings and grease. I could see it in use:

“Honey, would you fix the . . .” Sniff, sniff. “Oh, never mind, you must be busy.”

Hot dog! Of course, another theory is that dogs roll in dead stuff to stake a claim. If a scent like this worked at the office, this might also be a money-maker. At my workplace in particular, any time someone makes fresh coffee, there’s a land rush on the coffee pot. It’s every man for himself. But—what if they made a scent so powerful, so reminiscent of it's juanJuan Valdez and mountain-grown Columbian beans that every worker big and small would step aside, knowing instinctively that you were the rightful heir to that first aromatic cup of joe? For that privilege, I would roll myself in any old nasty smell. 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

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4 Responses to “I’m Just Rollin’ Along, Like My Dog”

  1. Joann March 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    I loved this. I love Ralph.

  2. SearchingfortheStory March 27, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    Yet another reason, Roger, that you and I were destined to form a professional relationship. I have an obese Dachshund named Millie and so much of this holds true for her.

    • oldspouse March 27, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      That’s funny, EV. And a strange connection, indeed.

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