GateHouse — Because I am an idiot who believes that going running in near-noontime 90-degree heat is not the stupidest idea in the world, I am currently planted on the couch in a state of pretty impressive dehydration speed-guzzling Gatorade like a crazy person and not moving, so it goes without saying that I’m watching dogs on ESPN.
But I am not watching just any dogs. I am watching magic dogs from space doing tricks. These dogs are so much better than your dog it’s ridiculous. Unless your dog is on ESPN right now, your dog is seriously terrible. (Sorry. I don’t hate your dog. It’s the Gatorade talking.)
These are the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge Western Regional Championships, a surprisingly well-attended and expensive-looking event starring dogs with names like Casanova and Gumbo that is apparently the bees’ knees of Dog Challenge Regional Championships (the Western bracket is always the toughest), and currently more important to ESPN than anything that humans are doing, which is as it should be. Since that weekend in high school when we suddenly got free Cinemax for some reason I don’t remember being so utterly unable to turn off my television. My little boy is on the other couch right now, and his eyes are popping out of his head like Elmer Fudd’s. (“How can dogs catch a Frisbee?” he just asked, which is a great question and considerably easier to answer than the last one he asked me, which was, “Did Jesus really walk on water?” So basically we’re gonna watch the dog show until I don’t have to explain the Bible.)
It goes without saying that an Incredible Dog Challenge requires Incredible Dog Challenge Announcing, a task currently charged to two people whose names I do not have, a man and a woman, who either embarrass their parents daily or have the best possible not-job on the planet – I can’t tell which, but I do know there is absolutely no gray area between the two. I’m going with Camp One, because if there is a Nobel Prize for the ability to zealously describe the completion of dog tricks, these people should sweep it with a draconian fury like the AL does the All-Star Game. “It’s all about pushing limits,” the dude is saying right now, “If you want to go to the top of the podium that’s what you have to do.” The woman is now countering with: “The pressure is on. Of course the dogs doen’t know that, they’re just out having fun.” And then there’s this: “Clutch’s training regimen involves playing with other dogs.” Why am I not this enthusiastic about my job?
(Wait, there is now some hesitation on the part of one of the performing dogs, which the announcers seem to be taking very personally. Wait, hang on, he’s back: “Oop! He did it!” the woman just said with near-apopletic glee. Jeez, I don’t think I made that noise when my son started walking.)
Now, I don’t have much experience with this level of performance; if the dog we had while I was growing up could complete an afternoon without hosing down a couch, we grilled her a steak. (Now that I think about it, she had a pretty good trick involving Pop Rocks, which now that I think about is wasn’t a trick but something we made her do at parties, which is terrible, and I wish I hadn’t told this story now, so I’m gonna throw it back to the announcers, who just said, “He just did a reverse chest bump then back into a blind throw, unbelievable!”)
But these dogs are tearing through a doggy obstacle course, full of hurdles and pipes and tubes and teeter-totters while owners skip about issuing orders and pointing. (One just knocked the bar off the hurdle, which, I am pretty sure means certain death.) This is amazing. My old dog would get lost looking for the garage.
We’re now watching Small Dog Surfing, in which small dogs stand on top of a surfboard that’s pushed ahead of a wave by a human, which is not Dog Surfing but Dog Standing While Some Dude Does All The Work, a bit of obvious dissonance that is hardly preventing the Dude Announcer from saying things like, “Muffy really has a passion for the waves; he really trims the surfboard.”
Later on this man will tell us that in Small Dog Surfing judges love both skill and originality, as well as, and this is key, the ability of a dog to ride a surfboard. Oh God, a dog just fell off the board, which apparently disqualifies him from competition, but qualifies him to BE ADORABLE. (Who are these judges? Why have I never applied to be a Small Dog Surfing judge? Pros: No student loan payments, work outdoors, a great and terrible sense of power. Cons: Irregular work schedule, dog breath, shame of family.)
OK, there is now on my television a Jack Russell terrier race happening, which takes about four seconds and OH MY GOD NOW IT IS IN SLOW MOTION. I am never turning this off. Someone else will have to write an end to this, please. TIME TO PUT IT AWAY, GUMBO.