Smelly Cat? I Say Smelly Dog.

* Note: This was written back in the fall. The salmon are now fertilizing the earth, but Lizzie is still Lizzie.

In our beautiful part of the world, the river is teaming with Chinook salmon making their pilgrimage up the river to spawn. Watching the physical efforts of dying fish makes me feel a reverence for the species. I never get tired of watching salmon fight their way upstream. Cheering on their slow progress, they climb fish ladders leaping up a step, only get to get shoved back two steps by the current. I am not sure I would ever put in that kind of effort to reproduce knowing how much work children are...did I say that out loud? Love you, kids!

There is someone else in our family who has an appreciation for the salmon season...her name is Lizzie.


Littering our usual river walking beach are the carcasses of dead salmon. Eerily like a Halloween display, their eyes are missing...the first delicacy savored by the passing scavengers. Lizzie, off-leash, runs gloriously from carcass to carcass sniffing, but with my admonition does not roll herself as she would like to do. In the distance on a log sits a young eagle. Three times the size of our Lizzie, the eagle nibbles at the fish in its talons. Lizzie oblivious of the eagle runs toward it but satiated the eagle doesn't bother with Lizzie. It flies off casually dropping its meal. Thankfully it leaves Lizzie alone. Why bother with an obnoxious dog when there is a buffet of easy fixings.

Yelling at Lizzie to stay with us, she turns her head and acknowledges that she has heard me call her. Then in an act of defiance, she turns and runs...not trots...runs down the beach past a pile of logs where I manically call her. I cannot pursue her as my other dog, Minnie, is unable to scale the pile of logs; though, she will try if she sees me go. I stand, a frustrated dog owner with a disobedient dog. The realization that I have no control courses through my clenched hands, and the frustration grows. Especially since I know without seeing that she is rolling on something dead. I just want to throttle my dog...I won't. That's the difference between a good dog owner and a bad one...self-control in the fury.

Eventually, on her schedule, she saunters back dancing out of my reach, but I manage to corner her. The leash goes on, and her party time comes to an end. In an act of further defiance at the leash restrictions, the now smelly Lizzie proceeds to snatch bites of dead fish flesh as we pass by rotting carcasses. And there are a lot of rotting fish.

She is so doing this on purpose.

In living a life centered around joy, it doesn't mean that only good things happen to you. Often, you will be faced with obnoxious dogs who do not listen. And you will be frustrated...a lot of steps down the ladder away from joy. But in living this kind of life, humor eventually trumps frustration, and you gaze at your sad little restrained dog and laugh. You sympathize with her plight and even wonder if you would have done the same thing in her position. Like the salmon, she is just following an inner instinct that says dead salmon are wonderful, and mom is a killjoy.

So, I feed the jerk a treat (to freshen her breath!), let her off the leash when we are safely back on the dike, and hold reverence for the species that is Lizzie.


Some days you're the dog; some days you're the hydrant.

- Unknown

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