September 11, 2012: Meet the dogs...
Mack and I were born of the same litter on a large hunting farm in South Dakota. Our family was free to roam the range and participate in hunting activities and we hunted for ourselves. It was a marvelous life for the first six weeks, although not easy because I had to fight a bunch of brothers and sisters for every morsel of food. One day we met Jim, a dear friend of my two-legged parents in Chicago, who came for some pheasant hunting. It was mutual love from the first encounter. Next thing I know Mack, my sister Lucy and I were heading on a long trip to Chicago in the back of Jim’s pickup truck. In Chicago, each of us was adopted by a different family. Suddenly overnight, we were sleeping indoors in warm houses on comfy mattresses, and our food didn’t have legs and didn’t try to run away from us. Our adoptive families loved us, and we loved them back. They frequently got us siblings together, and we always had wonderful times. Unfortunately, our sister Lucy came down with intractable kidney failure and passed away this summer. We miss her so much.
Mack is my best friend. We like to play together, but most of all we love our forays into the woods with Woof (that’s my dad, you may know him as Dr. Tarek Husayni). We sniff out all the strange smells and make sure we overwhelm scents left by the wild creatures of the woods. One of our favorite activities is to play hide and seek with squirrels, but boy are they hard to play tag with! Woof calls us the BM team. We don’t understand why he laughs every time he says it, but we agree with his kids that he could be weird.
As much as I love my brother, Mack does get on my nerves from time to time. He has a streak of obsessive compulsive behavior. For example, he will spend hours upon hours retrieving tennis balls. It doesn’t help that his adoptive family has eight kids (just like mine!) who take turns hitting tennis balls with a racket as far as possible for Mack to retrieve. When one kid gets tired, the next one in the conga line takes over. Meanwhile, Mack dashes after every tennis ball like my two-legged brother Jad does after girls. Woof tells me he’s not worried about Mack’s readiness for the trip, but he’s worried about the one who sneaks to eat Mack’s food while Mack is retrieving balls (is there a hidden message here ?). But what really rubs my bald spot (borrowed from Woof) about Mack is his shameless pandering to humans. He would do anything to gain their affection. He nauseatingly does the googly eyes, panting, rubbing against them and licking their faces. In any gathering, he has to be the goody-four-shoes, it makes me sick. Unfortunately, humans fall for his antics and lavish him with attention. He has no incentive to change this embarrassing behavior so I believe it as my duty to toughen him up. I will nip at his heels, wrestle him until he calls uncle and steal his food. On trails, I must lead the way unless it is an unfamiliar path then I let Mack and Woof go first (I’m not stupid).
A few weeks ago while walking in the forest preserve, Mack and I took the wrong fork on a trail. Woof called us back with his typical whistle. We started running back towards him at full clip only to have goody-four-shoes Mack lose his footing and plow full speed into Woof’s precariously extended right knee (the one he had several surgeries on). Woof and Mack with their backpacks on fell in a heap on the ground with Woof blurting words I couldn’t understand in three languages. What surprised me the most, his anger was directed at ME! Well, yes it is true that I nipped at Mac’s heel while he was running ahead of me but for the love of Pete it was one leg and last time I checked Mack has four ….what a wuss! For the next two weeks, the trip was in jeopardy, but luckily Woof recovered completely and the trip is back on.
Last spring, Woof took us on a test hike to the Red River Gorge near Lexington, Kentucky. Mack’s obsessive compulsive behavior took hold of him as soon as we got in the car. He had to sniff for every single scent from Chicago to Lexington; he stuck his head out of the window for the entire 300-mile drive. You should have seen his lips peeling off and his ears flapping at 74.9 miles per hour. By the time we reached Lexington he looked ridiculous! Although I was highly embarrassed, I just ignored him and took a seven-hour nap. In Lexington, we picked up two of my two-legged sisters, Deanna and Lena, who are studying at the University of Kentucky. Woof says I should say “Gooo Wildcats” every time UK’s name is mentioned (he really is strange!). We then all spent a wonderful weekend hiking in the Gorge. (I’ll tell you the story later.)