Yesterday afternoon I met the dog I agreed to babysit this weekend. Shino (pronounced Shee-no) is named after a Japanese pottery glaze. His mommy A. is a ceramicist who works for the arts integration educational non-profit where my wife serves as education director.
Cha asked if I'd be interested in baby-sitting the dog while she and A. were in Cleveland for a conference. "Sure," I said, because I love dogs and rarely get to see them because of Cha's allergies. "The dog is very big," Cha warned. "He weighs 70 pounds."
"That's a good-sized dog," I replied. "But I wouldn't call it very big." I lived in a house with three adult Great Danes, after all. And a Beagle. And I used to house-sit for a couple who had a Rottie, a Doberman, and a Beagle when they toured around Europe. The Rottie and the Doberman never quite got used to me, but I won them over. I figured I could do the same with Shino.
A. brought Shino to meet me yesterday so she could give me tips and make sure I wouldn't be eaten. A. is a nice young woman. Her dog is half-pitbull/half bull dog. He's a monster. Picture Cerebus after having his conjoined heads removed by Ben Carson at JHU. He wears a Hannibal Lechter mask when out of doors, partly to protect the innocent from gnawing, but mostly to prevent bystanders turning to stone. Inside the mask he has three tennis balls in his mouth because his jaws are so powerful he breaks them and needs back-ups. I'd not want to be around if he burst all three and had nothing to chaw.
We walked Shino to the Park and the neighbors who own fierce dogs themselves crossed to the other side of Madison Avenue, many crossing themselves and making the sign of the Evil Eye. The lamposts shook when Shino took a dump. He uprooted a 90-year-old Wye Oak whizzing on it. Every squirrel and bird in the Park moved down to the Mall in DC upon his arrival.
A. said I could let him off the leash if I felt comfortable, and to prove her point she did so. He tore around the entire 750-acre Park in under two minutes, returning with what looked like the bumper of a BWI Shuttle hanging from that dread mask.
"He's a cutie pie," A. said, rubbing Shino's heaving spermwhale flanks as he rolled around on his spine, digging an Ypres-worthy trench in seconds.
I asked A. if there was anything I should worry about. "No. He's a lazy boy. He might get a bit anxious when I drop him off Friday morning. He's a bit skittish when he gets anxious."