Wednesday, December 1, 2010

That dirty old ear sucking dog

I should have know my childhood fascination with my grandma's Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings albums would lead this city girl down a country road.  It wasn't until after college though when I married a farm boy that I disappeared down that road for good.  I won't go into all the long drawn out details of the journey, but here today I find myself with two huntin' beagles that keep the blanket on the floor next to my computer desk warm and furry.  It is required that they are called "huntin' beagles".  Saying "hunting" with the "g" would be too cityfied.  Besides, these dogs work for a living.  I am a big believer in dogs having an outlet for whatever their genetic make up tells them they should do.  So all year long, a couple times a week, the two huntin' beagles get to run rabbits in the creek bed behind our house.  Except during hunting season, there is no danger to the rabbits.  The two dogs work the trail SLOWLY.  I think I have even seen a rabbit stopping to nibble on a blade of grass as it lazily hops along to stay ahead of the trailing dogs. 

The two beagles at my house have very different backgrounds.  The older beagle, Gabby, I adopted from the local animal shelter.  I had absolutely no idea if she would hunt rabbits, but I wanted her as a pet first and foremost.  The fact that she loves her beagle job is just an added bonus.  The younger beagle, Buddy, I acquired earlier this year from a guy who raises beagles.  He had kept two pups from his bitch's last litter, but then was finding that he couldn't spend as much time with them as he liked.  So my husband and I agreed to have Buddy come live with us.  The two dogs bonded immediately.  Well, Buddy bonded with Gabby like glue.  I'm not sure the feeling is entirely mutual, but Gabby does not protest at the young teenage hound that follows her everywhere.

There is a ritual that is played out nearly every evening on that blanket on the floor next the computer desk.  After the evening feeding and the usual racing and chasing around the lower level of the house, the two beagles settle down on the blanket.  What happens next just amazes me.  As Gabby starts to fall into deep slumber, Buddy will start licking one of her ears.  It progresses to him taking all of Gabby's ear flap into his mouth and sucking on it.  And Gabby has big ear flaps.  Every evening I ponder why Buddy does this?  And how can he get that whole flap in his mouth?  And why doesn't Gabby seem to care?  This goes on for several minutes and then the two dogs just fall asleep side by side.  I would stop this behavior if I noticed anything bad happening, but Gabby's ear flap doesn't have any side effects except that sometimes it will kind of stick out at an odd angle if the saliva dries and makes the flap kind of stiff.  Otherwise all is well.

I took some pictures of what this all looks like.   The only reason that Gabby's eyes are open in these pictures is because of the flash from the camera. 

Which brings me back around to Johnny Cash.  While Buddy is definitely not old and he is mostly not dirty, he is an ear sucking dog.  Up from the depths of my childhood memories came the memory of a Johnny Cash song "Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog".  I remember it was from the album "Everbody Loves a Nut".  I'll bet I wore out the vinyl on the copy that my grandma had at her house.  But other than remembering that I loved this song, I had forgotten the words.  So of course I had to go and look them up.  I guess it wouldn't be very politically correct to sing about stomping a dog's head into the ground or shooting it with a rifle nowadays, probably even more so for a veterinarian.  All I know is that I remember liking this song as a kid.  It probably made me laugh.  Maybe it's like the Blake Shelton song says "we've all got a hillybilly bone down deep inside no matter where you're from you just can't hide".  Time to go feed the huntin' beagles and watch that ol' ear sucking dog for a bit.

And for those who haven't heard the Johnny Cash song that I write about, here is a version with the muppets.  Now how can you go wrong with Johnny Cash AND the muppets.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. that is cool. Younger dogs usually tend to be the lickers of older dogs. It is a sign of respect and deference also. It does not mean Buddy is submissive but just that he really has bonded so well with with Gabby she has taken on kind of a mother role for Buddy.

    Wolf puppies once weaned off milk will lick the mothers lips and face in order to encourage regurgitation which is a common reflex in wild canines.

    The reflex been generally reduced in domestic dogs though.