Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Half-naked, yelling 'carrot'? That's me

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As a crusading journalist with naturally curly hair and fiery blue eyes, my morning routine is a wondrous thing to behold.

It begins when, at the urging of our two dogs, I slouch out of bed, pick up the morning paper at the front door, collect my cellphone and the mobile home phone, then head for the bathroom.

Next, I run a scalding hot bath -- you could make soup in my tub if you wanted, but I'm not sure it would be allowed under current health regulations -- and then I climb in and float for approximately 45 minutes while flipping through the newspaper.

Technically, I am not really floating, because our tub is only large enough for two or three residents of Munchkin Land, whereas I am easily the size of Hulk Hogan, which means I am wedged into the bath with my feet planted firmly on the tiles above the faucet and the back of my head parked at an awkward angle against the wall at the opposite end.

After a few minutes of protecting the public's right to know by basking blissfully in a steaming bath, the next phase of my morning routine kicks into gear.

This step involves our emergency backup dog, a small white maniac we have dubbed Mr. X -- who has been blessed with a brain the size of a cashew and powerful hindquarters the size of piano legs -- announcing he needs to go outside immediately.

He will make this announcement by bounding into the bathroom, staring at me for several minutes with the sort of laser-like intensity only a dog can muster, then marching to the back door, against which he will loudly and repeatedly bang his fuzzy head.

What with being a sensitive modern pet owner, I will rise from the tub, girdle my loins with a large bath towel, release Mr. X into the confines of the backyard, then climb back in the tub.

Even though I cannot see him from the tub, I know exactly what Mr. X is doing outside. He will sit in the middle of the yard as motionless as a tombstone, waiting and waiting for the sound of someone, anyone, wandering past the fence at the side of the yard.

The moment he hears anything -- even if this is only in his doggie imagination -- he will spring into action and, propelled by his insanely powerful rear legs, run frantically in a figure-eight pattern along the fence, weaving in and out of the trees, over and over, carving a path in the muck that is now about 20 centimetres deep.

When he is out of breath, Mr. X's tiny brain will send him the following message: "Find a nice patch of mud in the garden, root around in it like a small furry hog on steroids, then flip on your back and flail in the filth until your entire body is coated in a thick layer of impenetrable sludge."

At some point, as I am flipping through the paper to ensure I am prepared to begin a new day, I will become worried about what Mr. X is up to, so I will again wrap myself in a towel, walk to the back door, leave wet footprints down the hall, and attempt to lure this eccentric canine back inside.

The thing is, Mr. X has a mind of his own and refuses to respond when he hears his name being called by a human voice. So instead of yelling his name, I will stand at the back door, half-naked and shriek the following word: "CARROT!"

I do this because, above all things, Mr. X is passionate about carrots and will do almost anything to obtain one of these deliciously crunchy root vegetables. So, every morning in the spring and summer, I can be seen partially clad, silhouetted in the doorway, screeching at the top of my lungs: "CARROT, MR. X! COME AND GET A NICE CARROT!"

I do not know if our neighbours have witnessed (or heard) this state-of-the-art display of organic dog training, but I assume they haven't, because, as far as I know, no one has filed a morals complaint with the police department.

The amazing thing is, it always works. When I holler "CARROT!" Mr. X will instantly haul his muddy carcass into the house, where I scoop him up and, with a tinge of sadness, plop him into my now-tepid bath water, which he will churn into a filthy froth that resembles a diluted latte.

Once he has been cleansed, I release him and he races mindlessly throughout the house, eventually flinging himself on his back and thrashing around violently to convey some deep doggie angst I do not completely understand.

As he rolls around, I clean the tub with one of those plastic strainer-like devices that prevent dog debris from clogging the drain, then run a fresh bath and resume my daily journalistic activities.

On the downside, our water bill is higher than the national debt of Peru. On the upside, we are extremely clean.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2014 A2

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