Let’s go to the dogs

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - PERSPECTIVE - PAUL GREENBERG

Ge­orge Or­well, best known for his dystopian glimpses of a fu­ture to be dreaded, was also a master of the light es­say. In one of them, he de­scribed his fa­vorite pub: The Moon Un­der Wa­ter, where an English­man of the old school could take the fam­ily for a plow­man’s spe­cial that ap­pealed to the cu­ri­ous English taste for snacks like liv­er­wurst sand­wiches, mus­sels, cheese and other tid­bits that might not ap­peal to an Amer­i­can’s palate but cer­tainly did to John Bull’s culi­nary pe­cu­liar­i­ties. All served while the cus­tomer quaffed a warm Bri­tish beer in a tra­di­tional glass free of han­dles.

What’s more, the bar­maid knew her reg­u­lar cus­tomers by name, traded vil­lage gos­sip, and took all too pre­cise aim at her pa­trons’ own foibles. As for what might laugh­ingly be called the decor of the place, “ev­ery­thing has the solid, com­fort­able ug­li­ness of the 19th cen­tury.”

To a cer­tain kind of English­man, it was all too good to be true, and in­deed it wasn’t—just a fic­tive vi­sion made of whole Ir­ish-tweed cloth.

Hap­pily, there’s a place that’s not only ideal but real that serves both man and beast right here in Arkansas, the Amer­i­can state. It’s called the Bark Bar, and it’s smack in the mid­dle of the state in Lit­tle Rock, where it of­fers its ca­nine cus­tomers an off-the­leash din­ing and re­cre­ational ex­pe­ri­ence. Hot dawg!

Both ca­nine and hu­man pa­trons of the Bark Bar can go there in the ca­sual at­tire or lack of same suit­able in this Au­gust heat. While the poor hu­mans aren’t al­lowed to doff all their gar­ments, the dogs are free to do what comes nat­u­rally. And that would seem to in­clude stick­ing with their mas­ters or mis­tresses till death do them part.

A dog’s loy­alty to his master or mis­tress may be­come leg­endary. While other tales of ca­nine loy­alty are as up-to-date as the daily pa­per. As in this item from the in­dis­pens­able In the News col­umn just the other day: “Jonathan Perok, a po­lice spokesman in Prince William County, Va., re­ported that a 10-year-old girl in Wood­bridge was out walk­ing her dog when a stranger ap­proached and grabbed her by the arm, but was chased off when the dog bit him.” Good dog!

Some dogs dis­play a fi­delity to their owner that has been memo­ri­al­ized by stat­ues in their honor around the world. Con­sider the story from Japan of Hachiko, the dog who waited for his master’s re­turn long af­ter his hu­man had died. No won­der the com­mon dog’s name, Fido, is Latin for I am Faith­ful, as in the Ma­rine Corps’ motto, Sem­per Fi, or Al­ways Faith­ful.

Dogs will per­form the most ex­tra­or­di­nary feats to serve and pro­tect their own­ers. Or is it they who are the real own­ers, pro­tec­tors and care­tak­ers, and we mere hu­mans who are in their charge rather than the other way around? At any rate, it’s a part­ner­ship formed over time im­memo­rial. For dogs will do the most im­pres­sive things on be­half of those who fancy them­selves to be their own­ers.

A dog’s loy­alty is as stead­fast as any Chris­tian be­liever’s await­ing the glo­ri­ous res­ur­rec­tion of his master. If there are tricks we hu­mans teach them, there are many things they teach us, of­ten by ster­ling and in­spir­ing ex­am­ple.

Mon­u­ments to ca­nine loy­alty have been put up around the world, for our best friends do not dis­crim­i­nate when it comes to race, creed or color. They could be models for civil rights

leg­is­la­tion, be­ing largely color blind. We mere Homo sapi­ens might be taught a great deal by

Ca­nis Lu­pus Fa­mil­iaris if only we are sus­cep­ti­ble to be­ing as well­trained as they are. Wise old Solomon pro­posed that we slug­gards learn from an­other species, the ant, when it comes to build­ing our own lives and pro­tect­ing those of other species. But he might as well have rec­om­mended the dog as a role model and ex­em­plar.

I have the most con­ve­nient of re­la­tion­ships with our ca­nine friends. While not own­ing a dog, or rather a dog’s not own­ing me, I long have en­joyed that species’ at­ten­tion and de­vo­tion. It’s mat­ter of a sim­ple di­vi­sion of la­bor: Happy to pet them and watch them bound about, I have noth­ing to do with all the la­bor and ex­pense of feed­ing, main­tain­ing, wash­ing and med­i­cat­ing them when nec­es­sary. You’d be more than ac­cu­rate to call me a par­a­site when it comes to dogs, for it’s they who guard and amuse me more than I ever do any­thing for them. So the least I can do for one of their kind is to take him to the Bark Bar for a stroll and a lit­tle re­fresh­ment.

It’s a dog’s life, whin­ers may com­plain, but it doesn’t seem too bad at the Bark Bar. And that means you, Fido. Or as we say in these parts dur­ing the dog days of Au­gust, Arf! Arf!

Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer Prize-win­ning edi­to­rial writer and colum­nist for the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.