The Babies

The park is a beautiful spot surrounded by a big wood fence and pine trees. It is the official “hangout” for local dog-people. But my favorite thing about this place is watching the dog world in action.

Taking your dogs to a dog park can be a fun and exciting experience, especially if your dogs are clinically deranged like mine.

We have a nice dog park near our house. And after a day spent in this nicely maintained park, my dogs are kinder, happier, more relaxed, and less likely to destroy my baseball cap.

The exact moment we enter the park, the party begins. My dogs transform into wild creatures who are so excited they forget about normal things like behaving, using good manners, not digging unnecessary holes, and not peeing in communal water bowls.

The park is a beautiful spot surrounded by a big wooden fence and pine trees. It is the official “hangout” for local dog-people. But my favorite thing about this place is watching the dog world in action.

There are natural laws in the dog kingdom that dogs somehow know to follow.

For example: When I open the gate and present my dogs to the the other dogs, they must smell each other. Must with a capital “M.”

Modern experts tells us that this is an ancient custom dating back to the primal civilizations of miniature lap dogs who once coexisted peacefully with early man and always chewed on early man’s Atlanta Braves baseball caps.

Among dogs, this mass butt-smelling maneuver is a simple ritual, full of nuance, and intrigue. Imagine fifty-eight dogs gathering around one tail. Which sets off a chain reaction of sniffing within the pack. Dogs begin placing their noses into the private regions of everything located within a ten-foot radius—including oak trees, certain species of ferns, and me.

Once this is finished, new arrival dogs are then issued W9’s by veteran dogs and expected to become tax-paying members of dog society.

My two dogs have a unique set of skills which they offer the rest of the dog world.

Thelma Lou (bloodhound) specializes in smells. She is highly skilled when it comes to aromas. She takes every single smell with grave seriousness. During our nightly walks she can’t walk more than a few steps without finding scents that, judging by her reactions, might affect national security. Some of these smells are even located beneath her own tail.

Our other dog, Otis (alleged Labrador), has a completely different collection of talents. Namely, he eats stuff. If it needs eating and moderate digesting, Otis is your guy.

In the dog park, Otis follows Thelma when she is on an important trail. To the untrained eye, my dogs might look like ordinary dogs, out for a joy ride. But they are all business. In this park they are two canines crusading for truth and justice.

(Cue “Charlie’s Angels Theme.”)

They run, full speed. Thelma sniffs dirt, making urgent zig-zags toward God-knows-where. Otis follows, pausing occasionally to eat pine cones, mud, and the pant leg of a teenage boy named Phillip.

Then. Otis finds something.

“BARK! BARK!” Otis says.

Literal translation: “Captain, I’ve found something!”

Otis has done it. He’s found something dead. Yes. There it is. It is dead. Otis has found a dead thing. Or it could actually be a tube sock. But it’s a DEAD tube sock. Or it could be a used breast implant. Whatever it is, it’s the most awesome thing he’s ever seen.

Thelma comes for a closer look. She sniffs the implant-slash-tube sock which appears to be filled with stinky, squishy, poop-like matter. She concurs with Otis, it is definitely dead. And in an attempt to shed more light on the situation, Thelma rolls on the object until juices begin seeping out.

Otis barks again.

Translation: “WHOOP! THERE IT IS!”

Then, Otis lifts his leg on the object and officially declares this case closed.

Roll the credits.

So we can see that the dog park is fun. But in truth, it is short lived. Because after four or five minutes of unsupervised activity, Thel and Otis become bored. I can see indifference wash over their faces. They can’t explain why, but after only six minutes this place has lost its charm.


My two dogs see me. They notice that I am not paying close enough attention to them. Which is unacceptable. To my dogs, an important part of their enjoyment is BEING watched. After all, what’s the point of rolling on a poopy sock if nobody is watching?

Thelma and Otis run toward me. They are barking. Tongues hanging out. And so help me, I believe they are smiling.

They are not slowing down. I brace for impact. They are wet, muddy, gross, smelly, wild, loud, demonic, and covered in drool. They tackle me. I fall. It is death by licking. Thelma Lou steals my hat and runs for the hills. And I love them so much it hurts. My baseball cap is completely ruined.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.


  1. Carolyn from Georgia - October 24, 2019 10:23 am


  2. Maw-maw Becky - October 24, 2019 12:34 pm

    You’ve answered all my questions about dogs.

  3. Alice Roose - October 24, 2019 12:36 pm

    Dear Sean how I love your stories about your dogs❤️I am a dog lover myself and I wouldn’t have it any other way!Love you and I am so thankful I got to meet you in Dothan!God Bless you

  4. Gloria - October 24, 2019 12:40 pm

    Sean, the reason for tail-sniffing is easily explained..a long time ago, when dogs were being civilized, they all attended church. The custom, upon entering church, was to hang their tails on a rack, similar to men leaving their hats. One cold winter day, a fire broke out in the church causing every dog to hurriedly rush out of church grabbing the first tail they came to. Ever since that fateful day, they have been searching for their own tail. At least that was the explanation we were given by our Daddy when we were little🤭😊

  5. Connie Havard Ryland - October 24, 2019 12:42 pm

    Awesome. I was one of those people who never wanted dogs in the house. Silly me. Now I have two. Both mixed breed small dogs who own my house and my heart. I can’t imagine life without them, even though they too love to roll in whatever wet, stinky thing they find outside, everything in my house is a constant battle to keep dog hair off, I come to work most days trying to brush their hair off my clothes, they bark when the wind blows, and never let me eat in peace. They are also the sweetest things I’ve ever seen. They make us laugh every day. They pile in my lap on top of each other and hold me down so I can’t do anything, especially if I’m sick. They love to cuddle. And I love them more than I thought it was possible. I love reading about your adventures with Thelma and Otis, but mostly I love that you love them so much.

  6. Jo Ann - October 24, 2019 12:49 pm

    I, too, enjoy reading about your dogs. We have 3 now. We did have 4, but had to send our big girl across the rainbow bridge last month. We still miss her. Our dogs are loved, how quiet & boring our lives would be without them. As long as I am physically able, I will never be petless (I like cats, too, but our dogs don’t!!)
    I look forward to your stories every day.

  7. Rebecca Barnes - October 24, 2019 1:17 pm

    You nailed it! 🤣

  8. Harriet - October 24, 2019 2:52 pm

    I love my pibble (pit bull) Gordon. This was a dog gone, funny story!!! (Three exclamation points:)

  9. Linda Moon - October 24, 2019 3:21 pm

    Bodhy and Oakley are two of our family dogs. One seems to be clinically deranged, but he’s lots of fun. You might say he’s a “party animal” — yuk yuk. I wish you could’ve met the other family dog, Pyper, who could read American Sign Language (ASL). There’s a wonderful school for the deaf in Talladega, Alabama. Pyper would have been a great addition to the school. Students would have loved him almost as much as you love Thelma Lou and Otis! They ARE smiling at you, Sean, because they love you back!!

  10. Shelton A. - October 24, 2019 3:28 pm

    If it wasn’t for our dogs, we’d have to talk about the weather or the stock market. What kinda fun is that? Roxy destroyed two pillows on the couch…and was so proud. LOL!

  11. Edna B. - October 24, 2019 3:41 pm

    A fun story. I love my little dog and I just couldn’t imagine life without him. People who love animals are my kind of people. Sean, you enjoy your dogs and have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  12. Susan Kennedy - October 24, 2019 3:54 pm

    Dogs are the best. And they’re crazy. Mine barks incessantly at the guy who found her as a stray and gave her to me 2 years ago. He picks her up, assures her that he’s not a stranger, she licks his face, he puts her down, and she continues to bark at him until he goes back into his house. See? Crazy! But I love her! She’s my angel. 💕

  13. Allison Gilmore - October 24, 2019 5:31 pm

    Your post today makes me smile and reminds me of my dog and of my sweet granddogs. Just like my grandkids when they were young, when my granddogs are here, they always want me to go outside and “watch” them play, and they are always ready to come back inside when I do. And my dog always acts disappointed when I don’t go outside to watch her sniff and pee and chase squirrels. This post today reminds me that now that I am retired (!!!!), I need to just slow down and take time to watch the dogs and learn from them to enjoy the moment instead of thinking about what else I “should” be doing. Sean, you have reminded me that like people, dogs sometimes just want an audience from the people who love them, and that a benefit of having a dog is that we can in fact learn from them. My three cats, on the other hand, don’t seem to care who’s watching them and certainly have no interest in helping me learn anything other than how to be more obedient to their demands. 😉

  14. Carolyn - October 24, 2019 8:31 pm

    There’s nothing like a dog in your home…they bring so much fun and joy to your family.
    Our veterinarian once told us that when he’s
    reincarnated he wants to come back as a dog in our home 😂

  15. Patricia Gibson - October 24, 2019 10:38 pm


  16. lfry1220 - October 25, 2019 11:18 am

    You’re the real deal, dog man. My husband was too, to the ultimate!

  17. Steve Winfield - October 25, 2019 5:13 pm

    The late Jack Stagner, 20 yr old coon hound was different. Everyone that got to know him said the same thing, “Jack got manners”. Every possible way that was true.
    I named him Jack Stagner because a fellow down the road bred coon hunting dogs to sell. He was from a suspicious Pentacostal family that loved pro wrestling. The Stagners.
    Something about his suspicions, he always gave the runts away. Never trained them or took them hunting, just wrote them off as worthless. Jack was one. He gave Jack to his cousin that lived 2 houses from me. Jack would wander over to my porch every day as lot’s of neighbor dogs did. I was the nice man that always shared cheese & stuff & let dogs come inside. By the time Jack was 6 months old he had claimed me. The Stagner lady that owned him said he obviously loves you so keep him.
    20 years he slept on the foot of my bed. Never tried to get in my face or on my pillow. Manners. Several girlfriends & 2 wives all understood that is Jack’s spot. Jack has a shrine in the back yard now. Oscar Mayer, the 3 yr old deranged dapple weiner lives here now. He ain’t Jack though.
    I could go on forever about him.

  18. Dawn Bratcher - October 26, 2019 4:43 am

    😂 Just big ol’ babies! I love mine, too. They bring so much joy into our daily lives! 💖

  19. Dereck in Demopolis - October 26, 2019 10:27 pm

    This column reminded me of a poem my mother told me when I was young. It’s about why dogs smell each others butt…. Here you go.


    The dogs once called a meeting,
    They came from near and far,
    Some came by auto,
    While others came by car.

    But before into the hallway,
    They were allowed to take a look,
    Each one had to take their butt hole off,
    And hang it on a hook.

    Now no sooner were they seated,
    Each mother, son, and sire,
    When a manegy yellow “curr” dog,
    Arose and hollared “FIRE”!!!

    Then was a mad rush to the hallway,
    They had no time to look,
    Each one grabbed, at random,
    A butt hole from the hook.

    Of course they got all mixed up,
    I bet it made them sore,
    To have to wear a butt hole,
    They had never worn before.

    That’s the reason why
    When you are walking down the street,
    You see a dog stop and swap a sniff
    With every dog he meets.

    I don’t know the reason why
    A dog will bury a nice juicy bone,
    But now I know why they will smell another dogs butt,

  20. Dereck in Demopolis - October 27, 2019 12:58 am

    Sean..please forward to Gloria who commented on this story.


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