Old Dogs

Artist and dog arrive by Melbourne Express (taken for J.C. Williamson), 10/12/1937 / byTed hoodThe only free seat on the tram is being guarded by a dog that is roughly the size of the entire interior of the tram. In true ironic form, I am sure his name is something like Daisy or Sally. I climb over the snouted Yeti and sit in the seat. Shamu, acting on the hopes that my crotch is covered in bacon, buries his nose into it. As with many of my bedmates, my genitalia has a sadly soporific effect on the beast because he releases a disturbingly pleasing breath and falls asleep.

This is not a surprising interaction. I open my book.

The Czech Republic is astoundingly open to dogs.  Dogs are allowed in pubs, restaurants, supermarkets and on public transport. A side effect of this openness is that I have had several unusual interactions with our canine friends. I have been licked on the arm by a tiny dog sticking its head out of a bag on an old woman’s shoulder. I have been trapped against a statue in Old Town Square by a Yorkie terrier as I continuously shouted the only two words I knew in Czech at him – Nerozumim (I don’t understand) and Pivo (beer). Like every other resident of Prague, the bottom of my shoes have hit dog crap so many times that it’s like a brand of shoe polish.

With a giant dog’s snout buried in my crotch, I wonder when it all started between dogs and Czechs. That evening, in an attempt to avoid writing and planning lessons, I make popcorn and visit the wonderful world of internet-assisted procrastination. And on Archaeology Magazine, I am finally offered a glimpse into the relationship between canine and Czech, which turns out to be an ancient one.

In the article entitled ‘Top Ten Discoveries of 2011’ (link below) a heading jumps out at me: First Domesticated Dogs in Předmostí, Czech Republic. Archaeologists have long thought the domestication of dogs to have started around 14,000 years ago but a few finds in the Czech Republic puts it at more like 31,000. One of the dogs found had a mastodon bone in its mouth, suggesting that it was either buried with love or choked to death chewing on a mastodon bone. I imagine the family of Stone Age Czechs burying the dog in a grave with jars of crude nakládaný hermelín (pickled camembert) and mastodon utopenec (pickled sausage). Then they grunted about the nonexistence of beer.

I further imagine the dog burying his snout into the crotch of an unsuspecting westerner who had just gotten to Europe on a thatch boat and was looking to teach GSL (Grunting as a second language). That thick-chested, heavy-browed early human surely sighed with disturbed pleasure and wondered where to get the best mastodon steak in town.

With such a long tradition of canine-human relations in the Czech Republic, I’d be silly to complain about the occasional discomfort or stinky shoe. Still, maybe I’ll start carrying around a mastodon bone.


  1. #1 by Adam Sweet on October 15, 2012 - 3:01 pm

    Mastodon utopenec sounds amazing.

  2. #3 by sweet buns on October 15, 2012 - 3:22 pm

    Interesting, that clears it all up! I happen to be able to pride myself with living in the most dog-poo’d street in the city. People don’t hesitate to let their dogs leave an aromatic bright yellow puddle of “lemonade” on the ground right in front of the house door, it’s heart warming…

    We play “the floor is piss (instead of lava)” daily.

    • #4 by Damien Galeone on October 15, 2012 - 6:07 pm

      Sweet Buns: I have played this game as well. Nobody wins. Nobody!

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