Occupy movement goes to the dogs

‘It’s a new movement,” said my dog Angus as he climbed into the front seat of my car to sit beside me. “It’s called Occupy Front Seat and it means I won’t leave the front seat of this car until I’m ready to go, or all our demands are met — whichever comes first.”

“Suit yourself,” I told the little bull terrier. “But what’s it all about? What’s the yap on the street?”

“We are the 99%,” replied Angus, who stared at me with piercing black currant eyes.

“That sounds good, but it doesn’t mean anything out of context,” I said. “If you’re the 99%, then who is the 1%?”

“Cats,” said Angus. “Cats and anybody else who wants to occupy this front seat. We need to fight the cats that caused the crisis!”

I explained to Angus that there are probably more cats than dogs in the country, so he was closer to 43% and the whole idea of belonging to the 99% was mere puffery.

“I know,” he shot back. “But only 1% of the greedy cats want to sit in this front seat. We are the 99%.”

This is what comes of giving dogs access to the Internet, I thought. We had considered getting him a smartphone for his birthday, but the idea of being flash-mobbed by a pack of yowling canines called on command held no appeal. Back to the traditional sack of rawhide chews.

“Than take me to your leader,” I said. “Let me talk to the head honcho so we can negotiate.”

“That’s the beauty,” said Angus. “You can’t talk to the head honcho because there isn’t one. Occupy Front Seat has no leader. All over the country, dogs are occupying the front seats of cars, guided as by an invisible paw. You want to talk to one of us, you’ve got to talk to all of us.”

“I’ll talk to all of you then,” I said. “I’ll start with Rex the German Shepherd, then Solomon and Betty, the two Labs down the street.”

“Not Rex!” demanded Angus. “Not Betty! What do they know about my front seat? You won’t pet them, will you? If you want to talk to any other dog, you’ve got to talk to me first!”

“I’m good with that,” I said. “So present your list of demands.”

Angus furrowed his terrier brow. “I’m wise to you,” he said. “If I present my list of demands, you’ll make fun of it, publish it on the Internet and then claim it represents the views of every dog in the Occupy Front Seat movement. No dice.”

I explained that if I had no list, we couldn’t negotiate and he’d be lost in protest limbo forever. I promised I wouldn’t make fun of his list and shook his paw on it.

“What I want is world peace,” said Angus. “I want forgiveness of all my debts. I want free food, beef-basted snacks and quality chew toys, so as to preserve my dignity. Access to the toilet bowl. I want you to double my wages. Free tuition. And I want to reserve the right to occupy the space on the front seat of the family car for my sole use, so long as I may live. No cats.”

“That’s a pretty heady list of demands,” I told Angus. “Suppose I decide that I can’t meet them?”

“Then things will go hard on you,” said Angus. “I’ll live a life devoted to perennial protest and occupy the front seat for as long as I live. I might even bite you.”

“That’s a hard list,” I told Angus. “But after due consideration, I say yes to free food and toys and tuition. Yes to doubling your wages and debt forgiveness, and yes to occupying the front seat so long as you live. Cats are out. Toilet bowl access on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m with you on world peace, but no guarantees.”

“I accept,” said Angus, rolling on his back and kicking all four paws into to the sky in a sort of victory dance as a little whuff of fur and dander infused the suede of the seat cover.

He stopped for a moment and looked me in the eye.

“I wasn’t really going to bite you,” he said, looking up. “That was just a negotiating point.”

“It’s all about non-violence, brother,” I replied, as we drove off. “Solidarity forever.”

Frame grab from YouTube from a Suzuki commercial that was shot in Kananaskis for the 2012 Canadian Superbowl broadcast. The dog in the passenger seat is Nitro, a husky from the Okotoks area. Photograph by: YouTube