I prefer large dogs: big, strong, “thunkin” dogs that you can give a good old fashioned thunkin’ (pat on the side, open palm) and they don’t even flinch. In my entirely arbitrary estimation, a “dog-sized” dog at minimum is about 50 pounds, roughly the minimum weight of an adult English Bulldog. Don’t get me wrong; small breeds deserve our respect, especially the terriers, dachshunds and other breeds that originally kept rodents in check. But there was one breed of small dog that I never liked until recently; the French or miniature poodle. Just didn’t like ’em at all, not like the large Standard Poodle, one heck of a great dog. Compared with the Standard, the French just seemed pointless.
Circumstances force me to confess to error.
San Francisco’s Duboce Park is dog heaven, a park specifically designed for the comfort and pleasure of man’s best friend, including a large swath of green where the dogs are allowed to run off-leash. From 5:00-7:00, Duboce Park’s siren song draws canines and their human servants to a daily social gathering, and when still two blocks away, the four-legged patrons will lift their heads, sniff the air, and perk up like Homer Simpson heading to Moe’s Tavern after work. The humans like the park, too. Duboce becomes quite the party, with surprisingly good views of the San Francisco hills to the west and the East Bay in the other direction. On the day I visited, all was peaceful.
Until the no-holds-barred, all-out brawl to the death broke out between two of the dogs. Somehow, these two couldn’t settle their differences and resorted to a shockingly violent dogfight. One of the dogs was a French Poodle, maybe 14-15 inches tall at the shoulder, maybe 15 pounds and maybe 25% grey fuzz.
The other dog was a full grown Great Dane that weighed close to ten times the size of the Poodle. Its head alone was almost as big as its entire opponent. And yes, the Poodle wanted to go to war against this monster.
The fight ended quickly, but perhaps not as you might imagine. As the Great Dane bent down to bite its opponent in two, the French Poodle bobbed, weaved and scampered until it ran under (yes, under) the monster. The Poodle was small enough that it could stand at full height underneath the beast.
I won’t tell you what the Poodle started biting, but I will tell you that the Great Dane was a male.
Yes. The Poodle bit down on those, and he did not let go. The mortified Great Dane finally had to buck like a bronco to shake loose his tormentor, and then half-galloped, half-limped away in terror, howling pitiably. But the French Poodle of Terror was not content to let his opponent flee: he scurried after the beast, hurling to the towering heavens his almighty all-powerful all-conquering yip! yip! of triumph.
Yep. I like that French Poodle. I know what’s good for me.
Vonn Scott Bair
PS–Admit it; until you read “all-conquering yip! yip! of triumph,” it never occurred to you that you never realized that it never occurred to you that you never realized that you never thought you would ever read the phrase “all-conquering yip! yip! of triumph.” It’s OK; it never occurred to me that I never thought I would write it.