This morning your brave and handsome hero (that’s me) got attacked. Mom and I were running on one of our favorite trails, and other than the ghosts that hide in the trees during the June Gloom, we had the trail all to ourselves because it was only 6:30. Suddenly I felt a pain on my ankle that spread quickly through the back of my whole leg. “What the…” I thought, and snapped my head around to kill whatever had caused this torture. I couldn’t find anything, so I resumed running when ZAP! it happened again, and I whipped my head around the other way.
“Ugh! Oscar, stop it!” Mom said without turning around.
I was under attack by some invisible ghost that kept zapping me with stinging electricity, and this monster was yelling at me for tugging on the leash! Every few steps a fresh pain would burst on my leg, and I would have to stop and thrash from one side to the other to try to find my attacker.
“What the heck is wrong with you?” Mom said, finally turning around to see her faithful and loving dog not sniffing at a flower, but thrashing around in agony like a fish on land. “Oh, Oscar. I’m so sorry!” she said, as she found the wasp that was hiding in the hollow groove next to my ankle tendon and knocked it off with a leaf.
Mom and I always get stung during the summer, but I thought that wasps only got out of bed in the kind of weather that pupsicles and ice cubes taste. I definitely didn’t know that they woke up this early! Mom suffered an attack herself, but hers was less dramatic because she was stung by a plant. Again with the aggressive bugs and plants!
And another thing…
My puppy school professor read about my Duel at Dawn this week and scolded me for having leash aggression. I’m not the one with leash aggression, that’s Mom! Mom is the one that growls and snarls and gets all exasperated every time I stop to sniff something in detail and the sudden braking whips her around. She’s the one that throws a temper tantrum and barks bloody murder when we chase a squirrel or a cat. I don’t know why she can’t just chill, so I usually ignore her while she’s acting out and being unpleasant.
Once we had climbed the mountain and we were on our way back down, we came up behind two hiking humans that needed passing. Once we were within range, I sped up to catch them, which always makes Mom a little tense so she talks nonsense in her tea kettle voice — as if that could distract me! Instead, when I got to the right distance away I barked, “Hey, strange humans! I’m Oscar and I own these here woods. That means that you have to play a game with me.”
“I’m sorry,” Mom said. “He barks but he’s friendly, I swear.”
“…Hey! Are you listening to me?” I barked, jumping back and forth to get their attention. “Here are the rules of the game: I bark all ferocious, and then you have to stop and say how cute I am. Then I’ll wag my tail, but you’ve got to keep complimenting me until I stop barking…”
“Oh, he’s just being protective,” the lady said.
“Protective of whom?” I barked. I jumped forward in a pretend lunge, and then jumped back like I was going to cut and run to give her a chance to chase me. I wanted to get her attention by showing that I was a really fun guy who knew how to play lots of games. “Don’t change the subject. I’m not done,” I went on. “You’ve got to keep saying nice things about me until I stick my butt at you, and then you scratch it and say, ‘awwww.’ Got it?”
I barked and barked, but the lady must not have understood the rules because she didn’t say any nice things about me. I even gave her a chance to pet me by sticking my head real close to her hand, but she didn’t get the hint. So I ran past her and behind the man.
“Did you hear the instructions?” I asked him. “This is the part where I bark a lot, so that’s your cue to say nice things.”
“Don’t eat me, buddy,” the guy said in a friendly voice.
“Yes, Oscar,” Mom said. “We all get it. You’re very ferocious. Can you please shut up now?”
“You’re playing the game wrong, you big galoot!” I said, running up beside the man and barking right at his butt without breaking stride. “Your line is, ‘Oh! He’s so cute!’ Repeat after me… ‘Oh…'”
“Settle down, big guy,” the man said.
“…’he’s so…'” I went on.
“Okay, you’ve showed him. He’s quaking in his boots. Now quit it,” Mom said.
“…’cute!'” I finished for him. But then he was behind us and we had an open trail again.
“Gol-ly,” I said to Mom, after barking one more time over my shoulder for good measure. “I don’t know why some people are such rude guests. Did you see that couple? It was like they thought they owned place and I was interrupting their good time. How very rude!”
-Oscar the Pooch