Summer Sounds: Panting Dogs

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Commentator Andrei Codrescu adds to our arsenal of Summer Sounds with an essay about the panting of his two dogs. They have very different personalities but share the panting gene.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Time now for another Summer Sound.


SIEGEL: Commentator Andrei Codrescu finds summer in the panting of his dogs.


ANDREI CODRESCU: Sally Marie is becoming a lady of a certain age. She has long, delicate legs and her slight pot belly looks right above all four of them as she keeps pace with her younger, more uncouth and insanely playful new companion, Lula Harp.

Their styles couldn't be more different and, thus, they trudge up and down and up again the gravel road through the woods in the 103-degrees heat. They both do their job splendidly. Sally Marie stalks silently the somnolent wildfire at the roadside and Lula Harp barks her head off at anything that looks half alien, like a parked car.

What they both do on these long expeditions that Laura and I take for our postprandial constitutional is pant.


CODRESCU: Both Sally Marie and Lula Harp pant for all they are worth, mouth open, tongues hanging out, gasping breath and drool, one package of canine exertion.


CODRESCU: Their names tell it all. Sally Marie is part terrier, native elegance and is quiet most of the time. She listens and stalks.

Lula, who got her last name from Harp's grocery store, where Laura adopted her as a pup from a teenager, is some kind of beagle and chihuahua mix, a bea-chi-hua or maybe a mini pin, an Ozarks-specific combination that I hear goes for big bucks on eBay.

Anyway, she is fearless, charming and clumsy and does not hesitate to throw herself from any height, using her floppy ears as a parachute and landing, sort of, on the ground.

Sally Marie, on the other hand, calculates distances and heights with the cold eye of a geometrist and springs elegantly up to the exact spot of her calculations or down, whatever the case.

But, different as they are, they both pant, not halfway through the walk.


CODRESCU: By the end of it, they could be heard panting from a mile off and give off that lovely smell of sweaty, tired dog that is sweet, acrid and smug as if it were some kind of trophy substance.

Neither one of them turns down the walk, there being treats at the end of it, but the treats are, of course, different. Lady Sally Marie will have only beef rawhides, while carefree Lula is practically a hippie. She'll gobble apple, grapes, peach and nuts.

But they pant. They pant like overexerted athletes and they wallow in the glory of their panting slime like Olympic gymnasts. The lady and the tramp are one in panting sisterhood, the sound of summer, all right.


SIEGEL: A summer sound from Andrei Codrescu, author of "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," a story of Sheherezade and the Arabian entertainments.

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