Dogs and Dingbats

Our topic today is dogs. Not my dog, though. I do have a dog, but he’s not funny. In fact, he breaks a cardinal rule in my household that everyone who lives there is required to give me material or they’re out. He’s on notice.

Anyway, in the past few months I’ve had a couple of interactions with other people who have dogs, and it is they about whom we will be talking.
The first was an experience at the grocery store recently. As I was walking out of the grocery store, a kid on a skateboard came zipping through the parking lot, up to the door of the store, popped up his skateboard and walked in. A dog in a car parked in the lot saw this, launched itself out of the car (and into the parking lot traffic, which was fortunately going slowly enough that nothing bad happened) and ran into the store after the kid. (It was pretty clear the dog didn’t know the kid; it turned out the dog just didn’t like skateboards.)
I saw this, turned around and went back into the store. I alerted the courtesy clerk, who read the dog’s tag and made an announcement over the PA system for the dog’s owner. It happened that the woman who owned the dog was right at the front of the store, and walked up to see if this was, in fact, her dog. It was.
“My goodness!” she exclaimed, upon the realization that this was her pet. “How on earth did you get out of the car?” She kept saying things like, “How did you manage this? How in the world did you do this?” Gee, lady, I don’t know—maybe it was all four of the windows you left rolled all the way down? She was positively mystified as to how her dog was able to get out of the car and into the store.
She wasn’t concerned with why (to be fair, I guess it didn’t really matter), but she was baffled by the idea that a dog could jump out of an open car window. It was a pretty warm day, and it would have been wrong to leave the dog confined in the car, so leaving all the windows open was appropriate, but for the life of her she couldn’t conceive how the dog managed to get out of the car and into the store. Really, you dingbat?
But I seem to find myself often in the company of dingbat dog owners (point for research: is this because dog owners are more likely to be dingbats than owners of other pets?). The other experience I have to relate involves a woman at the video store, and her conversation with the male video clerk. And in this case, the woman dog owner was a dingbat, but the guy wasn’t much better.
The woman was renting “Marley and Me,” and she and the clerk were talking about their respective dogs. Now, point one: the woman talked in a baby voice and referred to dogs as “doggies” (acceptable only if you are under the age of 5), and point two: well, I don’t really have a point two beyond the fact that they were both dopes. They had this exchange in my hearing:
Her: What’s your doggie’s name?
Him: Charlie.
Her: That’s a great name.
Him: Yeah, I like one syllable names for dogs.

So right away my twitdar is going off. It’ll probably come as a surprise, but I have a very low tolerance for that sort of thing.

The conversation moved on to the movie she was renting. Now, maybe I’m just ultra-dialed in (fact: I am not) but even I know the basic tenants of “Marley and Me” and I’ve never read or seen it. Yellow lab, ill-behaved but irresistibly charming anyway, dies at the end. Right? This woman, who was apparently new to Planet Earth, or spent the last five years on a raft in the middle of the ocean with no contact with the civilized world, knew nothing about the movie beyond the name, and the fact that it has a dog in it. I assume she acquired this information from the box.

The clerk told her about his reaction to the movie, clearly trying not to give away the one critical plot point (THE DOG DIES). He told her how moving it is (THE DOG DIES). He told her how it made him feel really emotional about his own dog, Charlie (THE DOG DIES). He mentioned the amusing madcap antics of the main character (THE DOG DIES).

At this point the clerk who was helping me handed me my movie and said, “Due back Wednesday” or whatever. And thank goodness she did, because I was seconds away from turning to the woman renting “Marley and Me” and saying loudly, “THE DOG DIES.” (It took a lot of effort not to do this.)

I suppose it’s possible that I am a dingbat dog owner. I certainly confess that I have my moments of dingbattery. But I like to think that I’m at least capable of figuring out how my dog would go about getting out of a car when every single window was rolled all the way down. And also? THE DOG DIES.