Laughing at one’s self is good therapy

Dogs are a lot like people. In fact, I watched a video last week of a dog playing the piano and howling along to his own accompaniment.
I found myself thinking the dog and I sounded a bit alike. I don’t tend to pound the keys with the same carefree vigour, but perhaps the dog plays by ear while I prefer reading the music with a modest level of accuracy.
I had company staying over one night recently and they had their geriatric dog with them. We took the dogs for a walk down the hill to the gravel pit and pond behind me.
“Gracie” put on quite a performance. I was embarrassed for her because she had no idea just how obnoxious her behaviour was.
I hesitate to share these private details of her indiscretion with you, but I’m sure you will respect her privacy and not spread this around (I would hate for her to get a reputation of being “one of those” dogs).
Mum’s the word.
Gracie ran; she ran like a dog possessed, veering left and right, almost crashing into the poor old dog. She nipped at his heels and then was gone in a flash—before he even could react.
She ran up the mountain of sand and stood at the top barking, and I almost could hear her doing her impression of “na-na-na-na-na-na, you can’t do this!” (it sounded suspiciously like that).
She looked like she had disconnected her conscience and sense of being a good dog.
Problem is, like the singing dog on the video, Gracie reminded me of an event from my past that was a bit like the one I’ve just described.
The year was circa 1965. Buck and Gertie Bujold visited our farm with their children on a drive home from town—and I hadn’t met them before (Gertie worked for my dad at one time and he was very fond of her).
The kids piled out of the car. The four eldest girls were in crisp dresses with clean white socks and patent shoes that glistened. I don’t think I had ever seen socks that white. Their hair was all combed and perfectly tidy.
I gave myself the once-over and wasn’t sure I had brushed my hair that week, let alone that day. My clothes were dirty from playing with new spring calves all morning.
I’m not sure the Bujold girls thought I was of the same species. That’s not the embarrassing part, though I was in awe of their tidiness.
I got my pony out of the pasture after the Bujolds arrived. And while they stood perfectly behaved and watched, I put on a bit of a Gracie performance.
I galloped my pony back and forth while sitting on him backwards. I hung from his neck and jumped on his back from behind (thinking of it even now makes me wince).
This could be an entry on my rather long list of baffoonisms that I mentioned in a previous column. I was a shy child, not always good in crowds, but on that particular day I was, like Gracie, obnoxious.
A few years later, Angie and I became best friends and I like to think she forgave me my behaviour on that particular day. We’ve shared a good laugh over it, although I would have preferred we all forgot about it.
Laughing at one’s self is always good therapy, though. It reminds us we are all flawed and fallible and not to take ourselves too seriously. Angie became my life-long friend despite the years and miles that separate us.
My father told me if I ever wanted to emulate someone, I should pick Angie. He was right. I’m so very glad she loved me despite our first introduction.
Happy birthday, Angie.
wendistewart@live.ca

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