Metro-East News

Do dogs mark their territory, or are they just saying hi?

Marshmallow, or “Marsh” for short.
Marshmallow, or “Marsh” for short. Provided

Getting to babysit the granddogs while your children travel isn’t nearly as special as real grandkids but it does provide some entertainment.

Especially when one of the dogs is a bichon frise, all 12 pounds of him. The breed name is French for fluffy white dog, also referred to as cotton balls, or in this one’s case, little runt.

Marshmallow, he is named, Marsh for short, because the whole name is just too much for him.

Not that he would think so. As far as he is concerned, he is one of the big boys. Even though his brother and his cousins can, and often do, walk over the top of him, he chugs right along on his little legs on our walks and leaves his mark in the neighborhood. All over the neighborhood.

Marsh always makes me wonder what the dog rules are for peeing while you walk. Sometimes he will pass a pole or bush without even a glance. Other times he stops and sniffs but doesn’t go. Sometimes he stops, lifts one of his four-inch-long back legs and lets fly.

Not that he ever actually hits what he aims for. Unless he is actually trying to pee short of the pole. I don’t know and I can’t ask him.

I know dogs’ noses are intensely more sensitive than humans and they live in a vivid world of scents. But what is with all the marking? Is it leaving a message? What does its say? Is he marking territory? If so he has a territory larger than a Texas cattle rancher. Is he trolling for females? Why? He’s neutered.

And how does he go each time? After dozens of markings, how can there be anything left? Sometimes I think Marsh just fakes it and pretends like he’s going.

I know dogs’ noses are intensely more sensitive than humans and they live in a vivid world of scents. But what is with all the marking? Is it leaving a message? What does its say? Is he marking territory? If so he has a territory larger than a Texas cattle rancher. Is he trolling for females? Why? He’s neutered.

Wally Spiers

Tall grass, weeds, utility poles and street signs all get the sniff-and-go treatment, or the sniff and don’t go treatment.

Water meters are fair game as well, which makes me think that meter readers must be thankful for the new technology that lets them read the meters while walking by without having to touch them or open the lids.

Given the choice of a utility pole and a no-parking sign next to each other, Marsh seems always to choose the sign rather than the pole. I guess that makes him anti-authoritarian. I know he never obeys me.

It was a funny site when we used to walk him along with our recently departed mastiff, Satchel, who always was careful not to step on Marsh. We also had to be careful that Marsh was uphill when Satchel decided to go.

That definitely was the long and the short of it.

Wally.spiers@gmail.com

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