I spotted my buddy Rick during the opening ceremonies of the Mini-World Cup at the Pinecrest field on Saturday afternoon.
He was standing there cuddling his cute little dog which prompted me to sneak up, tap him on the shoulder and ask in my best (worst?) Inspector Clouseau French accent, “Does your dog bite?”
He laughed and replied, in an equally bad accent, “Why, no!”
For those who never saw the Peter Sellers film from the 1970s, the gag ends with Clouseau getting chomped on the finger. Clutching his injured hand, he angrily asks, “I thought you said your dog doesn’t bite?”
To which, the hotel clerk replies, “That is not my dog.”
Fortunately, for my finger, the dog does belong to Rick and is quite friendly.
After a sniff and a lick – hey, I’m talking about the dog! – I headed over to my next photo assignment, the annual SPCA open house.
There I met Judy Hagen with her poodle/pomeranian Maggi. Like Rick’s dog, Maggi is a cute little slipper (a term my wife affectionately uses for all small dogs) who performs tricks on command and appears happiest all curled up in Hagen’s arms.
But Maggi seems an unlikely candidate for the course Hagen teaches to school children on behalf of the SPCA, “Bite Free: Dog Bite Prevention Program.”
Maggi doesn’t look like the biting type, but you never know.
Back in my newspaper delivery days, my best friend, who also delivered papers on another route, showed me the bite implanted on his calf by a small dog. It was perfect ‘V’ shape and for years we joked how it stood for “Victory!”
But he got the last laugh. The neighbour’s mutt Putz – who dearly loved the taste of paper boys – nipped me once and then a huge German shepherd almost ran me down at the end of his 100-foot-long driveway.
“You shouldn’t have ran,” Hagen told me as I related the story. “It becomes a game for them and then they chase!”
No, kidding. But this was a really, really big dog and, at the time, I was almost half its size.
“But…” I tried to say.
“Never run,” instructed Hagen.
I don’t run from dogs now, but I never had a Bite Free program to learn from when I was a kid. Back then, your job was to deliver the paper no matter what, even if a hound was hanging onto your rear end.
I’m glad things have changed. The Mirror’s paper carriers are instructed to not deliver if there’s a menacing dog lurking in the yard. And, usually, a solution is worked out with the owner, which sure beats getting chomped!