It probably wouldn’t take long, or much ledger paper, to calculate how much time the average dog spends in the air. Tally all of the jumps for Frisbees, the leaps for the (sadly) infrequent pork chop and the initially uneasy (but ultimately pleasing) toss into the pool by the kids when mom and dad are out of town: what would be the sum? 40 seconds? 107 seconds? How many seconds are in a dog’s life, anyway?
Obviously, I just saw the air dogs at the corner of Patton and Lexington Avenues. There was a black Labrador and a German-Sheperd-colored German Sheperd.
They should call them “swim dogs.”
Maybe I’m disappointed.
If so, it’s due more to my expectations, casual as they were, than the dogs’ lack of airtime. I expected to see a house pet-variation on the classic “diving horse” of Coney Island (and animal cruelty) renown. The proximity of the air dog pool to the BB& T building only stoked this expectation.
In reality, the diving-board-to-pool distance would be just right for the beginner’s jump at a flea circus.
There is something fundamentally impressive about dogs swimming; the same goes for dogs playing poker and dogs dressed in Mickey Mantle-era New York Yankees’ uniforms. Perhaps, by some measure, water could be considered a semi-solid form of air? These explanations are really excuses.
Maybe the swim dogs failed to enchant me as advertised, but there was still something dazzling about this afternoon’s scene at the pool.
The impresario (barker?), narrating the action through a headset microphone, commanded the dogs with a bundle of twine that resembled an oversized firework (it was tube shaped and had a long strand coming from one end like a fuse). The Labrador, more than jumping or swimming, more than being petted or watched by at least 50 sun-blanched onlookers, loved the bundle of rope. (The German Shepherd, honestly, seemed pretty distracted.)
The Labrador had Soren Kierkegaard’s famous saying,“purity of the heart is to will one thing,” all but written across his snout. I couldn’t decide if it was lucky or unfortunate to have such a singular desire toward something as convenient or at least materially specific as a bundle of rope. The dog leapt (or flew) into the pool in pursuit of the rope, so maybe he was “flying” as soon as he had the purse in his mouth; his paws were wings. In other words, he was flying because he believes, when he has the rope, that he’s flying.
If aviator glasses, a scarf and a shingled A-frame doghouse are enough to propel a certain Beagle into the closer heavens, then the air dogs deserve their name. They believe in their flight, or in their imagined flight.
But most likely they just really enjoy swimming.