By Annabel Monaghan
Pullquote: <“Dogs in cartoons have lots of resources that my dog doesn’t have.”>
I admit that I’m an indoorsy person. I like to gaze at the woods in my backyard from the comfort of my climate-controlled family room. But I’ve recently acquired this little 14-pound creature who has dragged me into the great outdoors. I have much to say about being a first-time dog owner, but right here, on day four, my amazement is with the amount of time I am spending in the natural world.
A lot of my indoorsy childhood was spent watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I always thought those guys were geniuses — the way they created animal characters and made their dynamics so consistent and compelling. I thought of “Tom and Jerry” as a metaphor for so many of life’s internal battles. But it turns out “Tom and Jerry” is practically a documentary, a partially accurate depiction of how it is out there.
I laugh out loud as I walk my dog and see chipmunks popping their heads out of holes. They look right, then left. The instant my pup prepares to pounce, I can hear the cartoon soundtrack cue danger, alerting the chipmunks to scurry back in. I’m positive they have tiny furniture and curtains down in that hole.
Birds take the high ground. Like everyone else, they troll the grass for treats, but at the first sign of danger they take flight, thwarting the predators in the neighborhood. My pup stares in frustration at that safe bird in a tree (who is frequently in an actual nest!) and laments his inability to climb. If this were a cartoon, he’d return to the doghouse in his yard, put on a hard had, and pull out a ladder to help him climb that tree. Dogs in cartoons have lots of resources that my dog doesn’t have.
In what I consider to the biggest diversion from reality, the cartoons of my childhood really kept it clean. While there were explosions and anvils dropped on foes, there was no poop. In fact, they skirted the whole potty situation so completely that I’m surprised no one called them out on it. In reality, the creation, placement, and sniffing of excrement is pretty much 90 percent of a dog’s life.
Dog walking is all about bathroom stuff, which has made my social interactions in the great outdoors pretty awkward. I have several new friends who I see on my walking route, and we exchange pleasantries while our dogs sniff each other’s rear ends. I say things like “Oh, my” while I try to pull mine away. Seasoned dog owners seem fairly relaxed about this, like they maybe they grew up watching totally different cartoons.
The biggest disappointment has been the bunnies in my neighborhood. The bunnies kind of scamp around on four, not two, legs, and I’ve never seen any of them set up a barber shop or conduct an orchestra. I hate to say it, but the guys at Warner Bros clearly didn’t know what they were talking about.
I’m on the lookout for cats. So far, I haven’t seen a single one, but I imagine when one appears, things are going to get real. But for now, That’s all Folks!
The Monaghan’s new dog, Paul, plotting against the chipmunk community.