They say the meek shall inherit the earth. I don't know for sure about that, but I'm willing to bet that when the last hand is played the meek will have at least have a dry pair of pants.
It happened one day that I was out walking the family dogs. They are two fine, large dogs. Babe is a magnificent German Shepherd -- quite possibly the largest dog I've ever met. Howie is a tiger striped Shepherd cross and what people who don't have a dog the size of Babe consider to be a big dog. We've taught Howie to heel on the off side so they can be walked at the same time, and with all that dog prancing down the street, whoever's walking them feels like their own Iditarod. With all those dog teeth flashing about, a very safe Iditarod. I happened to be the one in tow that day and was not surprised when one of the new neighbors stopped to gasp at how fine my herd of dogs looked. I puffed up with pride as she began asking me questions about German Shepherds, and I answered like I know something.
Babe is the only German Shepherd we've ever had, given to us with relief when the people who purchased him saw their cute little puppy grow into an enormous, Toyota-sized natural disaster. Imagine a Corolla with no brakes and lots of teeth. My mother happens to be excellent with animals and spent some time as a Mahout in her college days, so we've been lucky enough to rehabilitate Babe into a fairly serviceable pet dog. There's still a little air in the "Corolla's" brake lines, but enough pumping on the brakes will get you to a stop. That doesn't qualify me to be an authority on German Shepherds or dogs in general. Howie's no help either. As near as we can figure, he's a Shepherd-Whippet mix -- his father probably worked private security at a race track and had a thing for fast women. (Get it?) None of this stopped me from spouting proudly to my neighbor about the personality traits and training of German Shepherds. She kept asking slightly awed questions, and I kept puffing away like a pompous windbag until she stopped and said pleasantly:
"Oh, I think the little one is peeing on you."
I looked down. Howie was staring up at me with moist, regretful eyes. And yes, a lifted leg.
"Why, you're right," I said, as my pants leg slowly soaked. "I must be going now."
Why did he chose my pants leg when there was a perfectly serviceable lamp post not eighteen inches away? I can only conclude that it was because the lamp post was in no imminent danger of talking him to death. "One of your years equals seven of mine, you big blowhard. Keep it up and I'm calling PETA," seemed to be the message, though obviously Howie spells it "P-E-E-T-A".
A wiser soul would probably take the lesson to heart and vow to keep a humble tongue. Pride goeth before a fall and all that. Maybe someday maturity will come to me and I will resist the urge to spew my opinion like grade school children should be writing reports on it. Until then, however, I'm content to be the neighborhood "authority" on German Shepherds. And on rubber pants.
This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin