John Darkow cartoon

(John Darkow cartoon /

From time to time, I attempt to make this column more interactive — soliciting reader comments on burning questions such as “Which songs make you cry?,” “What was your favorite summer vacation?,” “Does this font make me look fat?,” etc.

This time around the block (pun intended), I’d like to ask how you converse while walking your dog.

I’m curious because of my own experiences.

I remember many New Year’s Eve stayovers at my in-laws’ home. Late at night, I would walk Turpy (our late golden retriever/Chow Chow mix) along the country lane.

“We” would summarize the events of the old year and speculate whether either of us would be around to repeat the bonding experience on the next Dec. 31. (Turpy had more immediate bonding experiences on his mind, but we’re not here to discuss furniture.)

More recently, I’ve had countless heart-to-hearts with Shasta, the last of a litter of puppies some conscientious citizen dumped on my mother several years ago. Every evening after work, I honor a commitment to grab the retractable leash and walk Shasta (with my brother taking the morning shift).

I’m never quite sure whether to talk down to Shasta or treat her as an equal or put her on a pedestal and beg, “Wag your tail twice if you think humans should all wear a doggie sweater over their faces.”

When my brain is fried, I follow along in relative silence. Other times, I recite the highlights of my workday or apologize that Shasta doesn’t get midday excursions outside her kennel or toss out rhetorical questions about what Shasta’s long-lost mother was like.

Sometimes I tell jokes or wax philosophical (“I think, therefore I am not going to freak out over tree limbs brushing against the house”) or bellow a few songs. I’m not sure why I pick so many thought-provoking songs, since most dogs have “Shah-la la-la-la-la live for today” on heavy rotation in their canine craniums.

Man’s Best Friend can help you get things off your chest — unless Fido is the one pinning you down. They’re great therapists. If you unload your anxieties and petty annoyances on dogs, you will come to realize that you can lick anything — although, hopefully, you will be more selective than Rover.

Pets come and go so quickly, it’s important to maximize the quality time you spend with them. With quality in mind, I feel self-conscious if I lean too heavily on hackneyed phrases such as “Who wants a tummy rub?,” “Where did the ball disappear to?” and “Who has been a good girl?”

Admit it, asking “Who has been a good girl?” 365 days a year is downright Orwellian. (“I don’t care if you burn books, but please don’t burn my favorite blanket! Noooooo!”)

I sometimes get paranoid about the things I say around Shasta. I know animal experts assure us that even the brightest pooches can process only a limited number of commands, but what if the experts are being bribed? What if dogs have been conning us about how little they comprehend, while we’ve been spilling our guts?

“You won’t believe what my master/owner/facilitator admitted about cheating on his diet. I’m glad he can carry a bag of Kibbles ’N Bits better than he can carry a tune. And I couldn’t dig a hole deep enough for that font he’s so crazy about …”

— Satirical columnist Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page Tyree’s Tyrades. He is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons and the author of Yes, Your Butt Still Belongs in Church. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Satirical columnist Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page, Tyree’s Tyrades. He is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons and the author of Why Pro Life and Yes, Your Butt Still Belongs in Church. The opinions expressed are his own.