Pablo and Harvey: Face-licking

I’m sitting watching my dog, Pablo, and his brother, Harvey, get into some serious tongue action on the couch across the room. Harvey’s my mum’s dog – a couple of years ago I expressed an interest in buying a Border Terrier and the next day she phoned me en route to Carlisle, saying she’d seen an ad. She got there and decided on impulse to get a second one for herself (her first dog, Eddie, doesn’t feature in this story). She kept the livelier one, Harvey; I got the runty whiner, Pablo.

Pablo is hoaching with mange. It’s a strain called demodectic mange, which means its non-contagious (as I patiently explain to every dog owner who recoils in terror from Pablo’s touch), and passed down genetically from the mother’s side. Of course, Harvey doesn’t have demodectic mange. He’s fine. Pablo has it. It’s a type of parasite that infests under the skin and lays eggs and all that horrible shit that makes you squirm just reading it. Unless you’re a vet or some other warped variety of selfless zoophiliac, in which case you probably say ‘aw poor thing’ and manage to mentally sidestep the sheer hideousness of what domesticated animals are.

Anyway, the mange, it makes Pablo itchy. Or, I dunno, there’s also this yeast infection that comes and goes, which may or may not be a side effect of the mange, and that makes him itchy. Anyway, last week, on Saturday morning, I awoke to find Pablo flinching away from his own ass because he’d chewed a patch of it raw through the night because it was so itchy. I was gonna say something there about dogs being so stupid they can’t be trusted not to chew a hole in their own ass, but the vet sensibly pointed out how stuff like eczema can drive humans to do excruciating things to themselves, so fair play to the dogs.

So Pablo, now he’s got this cone on, to prevent him chewing his ass further as it heals. And Harvey, just now, he’s pouring himself face first into the cone, getting his tongue all in about Pablo’s eyes, his ears, right into the gaps between his lips and his gums. I don’t know if there’s a name for it. The connective tissue bit that’s all stringy and sinewy. He’s licking the fuck out of that.

And Pablo’s responding in kind – or maybe he’s trying to bite Harvey’s tongue, it’s a bit hard to tell, there’s a lot of movement going on in quite a small space and a good deal of it is obstructed by the cone. It’s a thing they’ve done before – they’re both very face-licky dogs, with each other and with other dogs and with humans too. And Pablo, being the whiny dog he is, is simultaneously licking Harvey’s face licking his face, attempting to chew parts of Harvey’s face and specifically his mouth, and issuing soft little whimpers along the lines of, ‘stop licking me, no don’t stop, or just do it like this, I don’t know, something, god’.

And, if I was a better writer (or at least, less self-pityingly, a different sort of writer), this’d be the bit when the story goes, ‘And then, for some reason, I started thinking about the state of modern politics,’ but I’m not that sort of guy. I’m the guy that looks at two dogs, one wearing a cone, both licking and chewing the faces off each other to no discernible benefit to either of them, and rather than keenly dissect the situation’s similarity to some greater universal or societal truth, says, ‘hey, look. Those dogs are really going at it, huh?’

Which, when you think about it, tells us a lot about the current state of-

Nah. I’m just fucking with you. Dogs are gross, is all.

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