The Nitty Gritty

But more than all of those I am an entertainer. I carry around a ukulele with me for the same reason a gangster carries a gun; better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Stage or sidewalk, Your Pal Pete shows are just where they happen.
Currently, I'm working on a musical, RagnaPOP(or she's got the bomb), set to premiere at this year's Capital Fringe Festival. I'm also working on music, comedy, and musical comedy; for kids and/or adults.
The fruit of these projects will be available on this site, so check back regularly!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Territorial Pissings

“There’s two kindsa people in this world...”, Is how the cliché goes to be followed by some insightful human dichotomy. One of the few that I can actually relate to is:” Dog people and cat person.” I myself started out as a cat person. When I was a kid cats just seemed cool. Dogs are clumsy, they can knock things over with an errant swing of the tail. But cats are graceful, even when they go from 0 to freaky in 2 seconds and HAVE TO BE IN THE NEXT ROOM RIGHT NOW!!! . I could handle their moodiness. The cats I had as a kid loved to hang out and be petted, but when they were done with you they expressed it with their claws in typically subtle cat fashion.
The tide turned around my mid 20’s. My roommate at the time had three female cats that constantly were in heat. Their human like moans outside my room crept into my subconscious as I slept that turned into dreams of a kitty conspiracy against “the bald one”: ME! They didn’t do much to make me think otherwise when I was awake,either. They became strangely silent when I walked past, and took swipes at my leg from under the couch. I stopped calling myself a “cat person”.

Dogs, on the other hand, lobbied so much harder for my affection. I became softer to their brand of unconditional love. “ You're OK by us, Pete, the occasional butt scratch is all we ask in exchange for our absolute devotion.” is what dogs seem to say to me and I started to listen. Dogs started to fascinate me, especially when I started working at the toy store. Both children and dogs need consistency in guidance, so they don’t get unruly when they get older. The child has to learn communication, but dogs know how to communicate instinctively. The growl, the bark, we relate to those because we have our own human versions of this. But the way they communicate with their bodily waste never fails to fascinate me. We wash our scent away, but it is the dog's very identity.
I don’t think I would have noticed how important this was if I hadn’t know two very alpha female dogs in my life. Casey was the terrier mutt of my ex girlfriend, Vicki. When we started dating the dog made it quite clear she dug me. She hunkered down between Vicki and I when we would try to get close. She would get amazingly dense when we’d try to pick her up out of our way. Whenever I had played with another dog before I got to Vicki’s, Casey would give me a quick whiff and a snort and I was busted. She’d spend the rest of the night glaring at me with the gaze of the betrayed. When I would take the pooch out, she would sniff out the road ahead with a intensity I’d never noticed in the other dogs I had come across. I would call this “reading the papers” because that’s how she got information that was important to the dog in the city. “The big dog next door was at this tree about an hour ago, and he recently got in the trash and ate something that didn't agree with him.”

The dynamic changed considerably when Vicki got a puppy she named Ollie. Ollie was a pitbull mutt who scared everyone that spent less than 5 seconds with him. Any fear he may have struck with his inherited tough looks were severely blunted by his ears. The left one flopped over his eye while the other one stuck straight up, making him look constantly confused. Ollie quickly grew larger than Casey, but attempt to mount her or any other show of dominance was met by furious anger.
Around the end of Vicki and my relationship, my old roommate Shawn and his dog Samantha moved in with me in Rockville. I had lived with Shawn and Sam in Salisbury before, but now I understood Sam’s behavior much better having learned from Casey. When Sam shit on my bed when we first lived together, she was establishing dominance in the house. I thought dogs stuck their heads out of the car because it was fun, because I tried it and it was. But they’re taking in all the smells that are undetectable to us scent insensitive humans.
When I’d take her out, Sam is all business. Laser focused, she lingers over evidence of another dog on the ground for a few seconds before giving a look that says, “ Oh no, that bitch didn’t !” and give her own urinary rebuttal. She’d often lift her leg up in the fashion that was more associated with male dogs to insure that every tree, sign post or whatever she could make into a musk dispersing broadcasting tower.
Every trip outdoors covered another Samantha perimeter. Either she went to the right or left of the road that went by our apartment building or around our parking lot. She would go just as far as we would take her and she often had to be pulled a couple times on her leash to turn back. The aromatic cherry on top was when we’d walk passed the entrance to our parking lot and she would stop and assumed the undeniable position of dropping doggy bombs. No one said love would be easy.

After rainstorms she’d whine until we take her outside to remark her borders. so there is nary a second of doubt to any interloping canine that this is Sammy Country.

Informally studying the role that scent plays in doggy communication didn't mean that I would use foresight to keep me safe. I horse played with Sam before we went over to our friend Rob’s house. You see, after I had moved from Salisbury, Rob took my place at the house. He had a huge male rottweiler named Lou, who was sweet but dim and humongous; when he lived at my former abode, he was Sam’s “boyfriend”.
And I smelled like her.
As we sat on Rob’s couch, Lou sat there on the edge staring at me with a gaze that equal parts lovelorn and confused. He was big enough that when we both sat we were almost eye to eye. If he was suddenly granted the ability to speak, he most assuredly would ask, “I’m really confused, but I pretty sure I want to have sex with you.” He fidgeted about as he surveyed me evenly with his eyes, like maybe I was hiding his girlfriend in my jacket.

I remember watching Sam asserting her alpha bitch status to Lou when we would go over to where he and Rob lived. He was playing with a huge stick, until Sam decided to have it. She just went up to him and threw a little aggressive growling and it was hers. Never mind that the branch was too big for her to play with, that wasn’t the point, it was about the alpha bitch asserting her dominance. When she lost whatever meager desire for the huge stick, Lou would try to get it back, only to have Sam snap him away.

So here was me in his master’s basement, scented to inflame his instinctual desire, with none of the establishment of dominance that was Sam’s forte to keep him in check; I was defenseless. I came back from a trip to the backyard to be met in the hallway on the other side of the door by a Lou that was done being polite, he wanted booty, he literally wanted me to be his bitch. His massive body was blocking the hallway, making sure I couldn’t make my way back to Shawn and Rob. He growled that playtime was over then he put his front paws up on my shoulders pinning me up against the back door.
“ ROB! your dog is trying to rape me!”

I realized that Sam was starting to get older when a bulldog moved into one of the other apartments; other dogs had come and go, but this was different. I’d take her out by the bulldog’s building and her nose would catch what was certainly another dog’s piss and she’d shudder like she didn’t like it, but she just walked away instead of squatting it away. She had finally met her match.

For the rest of the time I lived with them, Sam gave up her territory except for the lawn in front of the interloper’s building in an passive-aggressive attempt to usurp the territory of the bulldog. That’s the funny thing, this was a war fought purely with smells; I made sure that I never took her out when the other dog was out, so she never got muzzle to muzzle with him. I wasn’t stupid, Sam with the sweetest dog possible with other humans, but with other dogs, she was a real bitch.

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