Friday, November 30, 2007

Pat Wray's Article on the Parade

What waddles around, comes around
By Pat Wray

I occasionally poke a little fun at people in print. It is my nature, and I justify it because my barbs imbed themselves in me far more often than in other people.Nonetheless, a few of my targets take it personally. I suspect them of an overly developed sense of self-importance, or perhaps strict toilet training.

Most people respond with good humor and poke right back in letters to the editor and e-mails. But very few poke with the light-hearted efficiency of the Corgis of the Willamette Valley.

Last year, while writing about the Corvallis Christmas Parade, I mentioned that the corgi owners showed a great deal of courage by appearing in public with their short-legged dwarf dogs, a friendly sideways swipe I thought would elicit a smile or two.

Adele Ullman, leader of the corgi crowd, sent me a pleasant riposte, which was followed by a dozen more e-mail daggers from corgi companions across the country.Members of the corgi clique, it turns out, take their dogs very seriously. Luckily, they don’t take themselves nearly as seriously.More than half of the e-mails I received shared stories highlighting the writers’ own dog-related wackiness, while emphasizing their pets’ absolute perfection.

Adele felt I had unfairly insulted their noble animals and thus owed the group penance. She mentioned walking with the corgi clan in the Fourth of July Parade.“Darn!” I said. “I will be out of the country then. I’m sure sorry. I always wanted to walk in a parade with corgis. Oh, the disappointment!”

For the next 10 months, my mind was corgi-free. But then came November and, with it, an e-mail reminder from Adele that I still owed Corgi Nation some sort of atonement.

Who would have thought corgi cohorts would possess such long memories? But having once agreed, I felt morally bound to take part. I was to walk, as it turned out, at the head of their parade contingent, wearing a Santa hat and carrying a sign: “I love corgis.” This in lieu, I suppose, of being placed on a rack.I searched far and wide for a good disguise, but settled, in the end, for hiding behind my seasonal blond beard. OK, it’s light blond.I learned a lot while standing there on Washington Avenue with the corgi contingent, waiting for the parade to begin.
Adele explained that corgis were developed in Wales to replace border collies. The collies were being kicked regularly by unhappy cattle so the Welsh decided to breed a herding dog so short the cattle couldn’t kick them.I believe it. That is, I believe she believes it.A more likely scenario, if you ask me, is that a mad 19th century geneticist, fresh from his work developing tumbling pigeons and fainting goats, decided to breed legless dogs.When asked why, he would cackle wildly and say, “To crawl in after ground squirrels and force them to the surface, where we can stew and eat them, har, har, har!”

So, while the corgi coterie thinks of their dogs as the successful end of a long breeding effort, I suspect they are simply a hesitation on the downward trajectory of the evolutionary elevator. Next stop: a belly covered in scales and an undulating slither.Naturally, I did not mention this theory to the corgi cabal. They were busy by then following behind their dogs as the little animals waddled from one side to the other of Fourth Street, visiting every smiling child under the age of 90.

Perhaps that is the fundamental truth about corgis: It is not possible to look at them without smiling. And corgis love smiles; they gravitate toward them, use corgi magic to expand them, then share them back around to the rest of the crowd.Corgis don’t even mind if you are laughing at them, because they know they have the last laugh. No matter who’s leading, who’s following or who’s holding the leash, corgis are in charge.

Pat Wray is a free-lance writer and longtime local resident. His general-interest columns can be found in this section on Fridays.

1 comment:

the Corgi Girls said...

This is really cute and pretty true!