It’s a dog’s world, after all |

It’s a dog’s world, after all

What began as an early morning annoyance has evolved into an early morning ritual, one including barks, yelps, bow-wows and woofs.Seven times a week the ceremony occurs come rain, sleet, snow or extra dark due to forgetting daylight savings time. Sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. (although on occasions it has been known to occur as late as noon), I slumber out my front door and shuffle like George Burns sans cigar toward the end of the driveway, all for the sole purpose of retrieving my morning papers.Hey, it’s a living.(I feel compelled to interrupt here to point out the fact that my daily duty of newspaper retrieval has doubled in effectiveness as well as overall happiness due to the added daily delivery of the Vail Daily – call 949-0555 and talk to Vito the Virtual Operator – he’ll set you on the right track toward newspaper bliss.)As I was about to say, the first sound I hear every morning (except for the beautiful Danish snores of my lovely natural-blonde) are the ear-piercing broadcasts of my arrival to the outdoor neighborhood by the 270 pound St. Bernard puppy living directly across the street.The kids call him “Tiny.” For his inability to know when to stop after already making his point, I call him “K.”Anyway, three days out of each seven, after reading both papers and performing whatever other morning rituals you can imagine, I slam the front door shut and slide my way downhill toward the club for a little exercise. At 44 years of age, shutting the front door well enough for a complete seal takes quite a toll, but I persevere.During the leisure and beautiful stroll down my little world within a world, I come across a plethora of hairy and drooling Happy Valley characters, never being sure if their response will be a delightful bow-wow of acceptance or an evil howl of displeasure at my mere existence.After first politely yelling for K to “shut the hell up” again, I am careful not to trip over (think: Brando) “Steeeeella,” a yellow lab who serves as the neighborhood door stop. If not for her unique ability to portray a dead lynx in the middle of horizontal asphalt, no one but her owners would know of her existence.Sort of like the upcoming council candidates.Next I am confronted, although only in a metaphysical sense, by “Tara” and “Rasta,” two mixed hell-raisers permanently stifled by a newly erected invisible fence.For months they raised Cain wherever possible, only to be Abel’d by the glories of modern technology. I still say a courteous hello, and then wait for jealous puddles of angry saliva to form underneath their fangs before heading on down the road.Sort of like Tipsline and Speakout.Next, I come across “Marshal,” my neighborhood’s metaphoric answer to Eagle-Vail. The solid black mix of something or the other sounds ferocious for a brief moment, but then quickly retreats to his comfortable confines where he can keep a quiet eye on everyone. I think he’s more content than he lets on.As gravity assists my cranky body down the hill, I see “Katy,” an aging retriever who doesn’t look directly my way but provides a half-hearted and somewhat muffled “bark” in my general direction, letting me know she is still there and protective of her property, but not really caring too danged much either way.Sort of like Minturn.A few more houses – a few more dogs.There’s “Tiger,” a miniature collie who looks like a leg-free Lassie but sounds and acts like a “Cujo” wannabe; a blind black lab (he must be because he NEVER sees a two-ton vehicle every single %&*?#! time it nearly knocks what few brain cells he possesses clean out of his head empty); a basset hound with ears that would make Perot jealous; and “Prima,” the coolest mammal this side of Johnny Depp’s “Cap’n Jack Sparrow.”They remind me of three particular county commissioners and one local doofus whose life apparently revolves around writing temper tantrums to the editor. Use your imagination to figure out who is who.Toward the end of the street I come across the Cacioppo twins, two loud-mouthed mutts who bark with uncontrolled animosity at the sight of anything that moves. If you time it just right, you can catch the both of them lazing around like a couple of Beaver Creek lap dogs just before, and right after, the mobile intrusions. They don’t seem to have sincere objectives, as they are apparently just content to enjoy the sounds of themselves complaining out loud.Sort of like, well, you know.Finally, at the bottom of the hill we have “Monkey,” a little speck of a canine so small that she wins blinking contests with garden snakes. I assume her bark is much worse than her bite. After all, how much could fangs as deep as Kobe’s monogamistic abilities actually hurt?Yet the little scrapper has an annoying yelp that makes fingernails on a chalkboard sound appealing, getting everyone’s attention the moment they enter our neighborhood.Sort of like Bair Ranch supporters.Yep, quite the dog-eat-dog world we seem to have here in Happy Valley. That’s one of the reasons I love it.Woof.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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