Dogs are sneakier than you think.
Oh, on the surface they might seem kind of obvious. The way they nearly jump out of their skin with excitement when you walk in the front door, even if you were only gone to the grocery store for half an hour. Or how they bark and growl and make a ruckus when the ice maker rattles in the middle of the night. Or when they sidle up to you at the dinner table, giving you the big, straight-out-of-a-movie puppy dog eyes, hoping for a scrap or a bite of something.
But where dogs are sneaky is in the way they insinuate themselves into our lives. Over the course of their relatively short lives, they go from rascally new editions to our households to obedient pets to full-fledged members of the family.
At least that’s the way things are these days. Dogs used to have to live outside, sleeping and escaping the weather in dog houses and fenced in enclosures. These days it seems they have the run of the house — the real house — with all the rights and privileges therein. Then again, maybe that’s only at my house.
If you’ve been following along in this column for any length of time, you’ve probably read about our dog, Ollie, sometimes referred to as the “Kansas City Dog.” He’s named Ollie because of the store Ollie’s. And he’s nicknamed the Kansas City Dog because my wife and daughter bought him while I was in Kansas City, despite my absolute insistence they not purchase a dog.
While I initially put up a fuss about Ollie, I’ve since accepted that he’s an intractable part of our household. In fact, he has an outsized role in our lives, even though he only weighs 12 pounds and is roughly the size of gallon milk carton.
He goes just about everywhere with us. If we go to visit my parents in Abbeville, Ollie tags along, his hair blowing back in the breeze as he hangs his head out the car window. He goes with us to the beach, to Pelican’s SnoBalls, and to Columbia’s Saturday morning Soda City Market. During the holidays last year, he accompanied us up to the mountains in Highlands, North Carolina, necessitating a stay in a fancy pants downtown hotel that allows, and in fact pampers, dogs.
So, if you see our family, you’ll usually see Ollie, too. He doesn’t like us going anywhere without him. And that apparently now includes professional baseball games.
Last week, my daughter insisted we take Ollie to a baseball game. The minor league Columbia Fireflies, a Class A affiliate of the New York Mets, were wrapping up their home slate for the season, and had a “Wag-Along Wednesday” promotion in which fans were allowed to bring their dogs to the ballpark.
And so the Kansas City Dog made his first trip to a pro game. We didn’t have to buy a ticket for him, but we did have to sign a waiver before they’d let him in the ballpark. I can’t blame them there. He’s 12 pounds of morkipoo terror, with blood on his fangs. OK, maybe that’s a bit much. But he does like Goldfish crackers.
Before we got there, I kind of wondered if inviting dogs to a minor league baseball game would turn out to be one of those ideas that was better on paper than it was in execution. But it actually turned out quite well. Charming even. There were lots of other dogs in attendance, most of which spent their time lounging and playing on the grassy berm in right field. I didn’t see any overt dog fights, though a few gave it a try. A boxer made a move to take on Ollie, but the little guy didn’t back down. I think that boxer could have swallowed him in one gulp.
In the end, I think Ollie enjoyed his first pro ballgame. He ate half a hot dog and a few bites of pizza, sniffed roughly 368 other dogs and was shown on the jumbotron screen out in left field for about 30 seconds. And he managed to not get mangled by that boxer.
There’s no telling where the little guy might show up next. Dogs are sneaky that way.