On his fifth birthday, Brandi, the Rhodesian ridgeback:
—Chased two coyotes out of his desert yard.
—Peed on the UPS man’s foot.
—Ate (uninvited) some of his human companions’ grilled tri-tip roast (he likes the rare part).
—Barked at the neighbor and his dog when they went out for the morning paper. They’ve done this every day for more than 1,800 days. Brandi still doesn’t think they ought to.
—Sorted through his collection of partially-chewed bones, which he keeps on the floor of his crate. He immediately detected that one — the one he wanted at the moment — was missing. He launched a search. Soon the house looked like a cyclone had passed through it. Brandi eventually found the thing, under a chair cushion, where he had buried it.
—Scared a jack rabbit from its hiding place behind a creosote bush during his morning ramble in the desert. He gave chase for exactly 20 feet, as he always does, then quit, because he knows you can’t catch those damn things.
—Protected his pick-up truck while it was parked in the drug store parking lot. He drove off an 82-year-old widow with two shopping bags, a kid with a Hershey bar, two guys in cowboy hats with brown paper bags from the liquor department and a pharmacist on his way to work.
—Declared the tennis court parking lot off-limits to other dogs, including a dalmation, three fluffburgers, a chocolate lab and an assortment of mixed breeds.
—Peed on both rear tires of the pick-up truck
—Peed on the neighbor’s rose bush. Probably retribution for the morning excursion to fetch the newspaper.
—Pooped on a desert thistle.
—Obeyed at least one command — and immediately demanded payment in “cookies,” i.e., small dog training treats.
—Ran ten times around “Brandi’s raceway,” the circlular trough he has worn in the sandy soil of his desert backyard.
—Chewed a hole in his brand-new squeaky tennis ball on his third “fetch” of the toy.
—Found an old ball under a shrub in the yard and demanded that it be tossed for a fetch.
—Refused to surrender the old ball for a second “fetch” on the grounds of “finders keepers . . .”
—Took a nap on the new sofa cushions that he absolutely, positively, under-pain-of-death is not allowed on.
—Joined a human companion for a jog on Old Box Canyon Road. The human did a mile. Brandi did 20.
—Polished off supper, licking the steel bowl sparkly clean, in 11 seconds — two seconds over the all-time record.
—Decided, exactly at the moment of the kickoff of the football game, that he wanted to play more fetch. He pestered so persistently that his human companion finally caved, went outside to toss the slimy ball, and missed the 72-yard touchdown pass.
It was a day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate a dog’s life.
Happy birthday, dear friend.