I watched a fat pug chug down the street the other day, her owner in tow. Snorting, tap-dancing, greeting everyone- just rolling down the street like a beach ball, barely able to contain her joy at being alive. As wide as she was high, the porky little bliss box pulled, spun, and clowned her way down the street, then turned the corner and was gone.
Some dogs are hilarious, not just in the way they look, but in the way they act. Born comedians who don’t even know they’re funny. My pit/GSD mix Rico is one of them; though smart, he’s often a bumbling knucklehead who will often accidentally smack his head into a dog crate, fence post, or lawn chair, then keep going as if it never happened. He’s a regular Keystone Cop, often running so fast he outruns his body (if that’s possible), falls, then gets back up to continue his Frisbee chase, ball hunt, or dog wrestle. Think of Stan Laurel on steroids and meth and you’ve got Rico.
Then there’s an English Bulldog I sometimes see near the café I go to. He weighs at least 65 pounds, and sports a Hitchcock body and a Churchill swagger. Glance at him sideways, and you might at first mistake him for a potbellied pig. But watch him cruise down the street and you see he’s got a big man’s rhythm to his walk, a kind of jaunty, “I’m too sexy for my breed” strut. He kind of nods to everyone as they go by, tongue flagging, a crooked bottom canine jutting up out past his lips. He’s stoic and sweet, and when people see him they often stop and just watch, as if a ’39 Ford pickup is passing by.
When I lived in Los Angeles, I knew a couple who had a Neapolitan Mastiff named Daisy. You knew when she was lumbering around the house just from the approaching sound of the creaking hardwood, and could actually feel the floor dip a little under her weight when she came up to you. Neapolitans look like giant “clay-mation” dogs, slowly melting in the sun. I don’t think I ever saw her eyes through all those layers of skin folds. But Daisy was sweet and bumbling and kind of Entish, and I liked watching her trudge around her yard with her bossy older “brother,” a grumpy little Rat Terrier who ran the house.
Some breeds just look hilarious. The Chinese Crested reminds me of David Bowie circa 1975. The Komondor, a mop. The Sharpei, a kind of sci fi sandworm. And the Brussels Griffon, a Star Wars “Ewok.” And I can rarely keep a straight face around a Bull Terrier or Basset Hound, or a dog smaller than a guinea pig. Can you?
It’s easy for us to get too wrapped up in the complexities and dramas of life. When that happens to me, all I need do is watch Rico trip over the garden hose, do a summersault, hang in the air upside-down for a moment like a flying Wallenda, then recover and look at me as if nothing at all happened. His Chaplin chops never fails to bring a smile to my face.