What We’ve Got Here Is Failure to Communicate

In the classic film, Cool Hand Luke, shortly after the prison warden punches Luke and sends him rolling down the hill, he lets loose the 11th most memorable quote in movie history:

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate!

It might also be the most misquoted quote in movie history. Most of us add an article and aver, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” I’m not sure why I thought you would be interested in that bit of trivia, because the movie has nothing to do with this post.

Indeed, this famous line came to mind this morning as I was feeding our 8 month old wolf-husky, Togo. If you follow my tweets or have friended me on FaceBook, you know that Togo is the given name for that larger-than-life canine, Wonder Pup.

In recent days, I’ve been thinking that Wonder Pup probably needs another super-hero name. I’m thinking Destructo-Dog . . .

In the 5 months he’s lived with us, Togo has:

  • Shred six old towels that were originally part of his bedding. In truth, he is so gifted at reducing them to small, uniform-size strips that I’m thinking he has a promising career ahead making bandages for the American Red Cross.
  • Eaten the pillow cushion in his igloo.
  • broken porch swingRipped up the porch swing cushion. For good measure, he then chewed through the webbing that the cushion rests on — twice. (For the record, I was against repairing the webbing after the first incident, but other family members insisted that he had learned his lesson.)
  • Torn out all the fuel supply tubing on our propane grill AND, after knocking the whole thing on its side and removing the cover (which he also chewed a hole in), chewed off most of the wooden handle to the lid.
  • Totally decimated at least 4 puppy chew toys that were claimed to be virtually indestructible. I suppose that “virtually” indestructible means that it would be next-to-impossible for a computer-animated dog to tear them up.
  • Discovered the secret of gaining entry into an enclosed hose reel. Once that was done, he pulled out 75 feet of heavy-duty garden hose and tied what appears to be something like a bow hitch to the leg of the swingset. And punctured the hose in the process.
  • Randomly dug holes throughout the back yard.
  • Chewed the insulation off the pipes to the heat pump compressor — twice. (Okay, so I was the one who thought he wouldn’t do it the second time. But in my defense, I did think that the jalapeno pepper spray would deter him. Who knew that he has a predilection for spicy food?)
  • Gnawed through the conduit with the electrical wires to the heat pump compressor.
  • Slowly and methodically removed every single living branch to a bush in our hedge that’s function was to supply him with shade.

And he’s only 8 months old . . . and upwards of 50 pounds (I’m guessing more like 60) . . . and one of the happiest fellows you’ve ever seen.

Except when he and I have to have a talk.

denuded bushWe had one of those talks on the day he completed his denudation of the bush. We sat together and surveyed the carnage. I said those words that every dog hates to hear: “no” and “bad dog” and “you should be ashamed.” Which, of course, to him have the same meaning as “yes” and “good dog” and “you are such a smart boy.” But let’s face it, despite what all the dog training books say, Togo knows he’s done wrong. He may not be certain exactly what it was, but he knows he has messed up.

So for a few minutes, he ducks his head and refuses to look me in the eye. As I continue talking sternly to him, he eventually extends his paw to signal his repentance and to assert his covenant that nothing like this will ever happen again.

Minutes later, I re-enter the house to announce that I believe that Wonder Pup and I have reached an understanding. Within the hour, though, new evidence appears that would lead any sane person to believe that

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate!

In those moments, I think about finding Wonder Pup another place to live — a place where he can run and play and chew to his heart’s desire. Then he ducks his head and extends his paw.

togo & killAnd I pick up the severed branches and shredded towels, pay the serviceman to repair the heat pump, call for a bid on a fence to keep Togo away from the heat pump, carry another 20 pound sack of Puppy Chow to the back porch, and dutifully throw his ball.

Even failure to communicate can’t keep us from loving dogs and people who try our patience some times. There’s just something about that outstretched paw . . . or hand.

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2 thoughts on “What We’ve Got Here Is Failure to Communicate

  1. I’ve had a few dogs that fit that bill. Currently we have a dauschand (sp) who just turned one years old. REcently we moved to a new town and are living in a rental. A nice place with a nice yard. Well the little bugger dug up five bushes. It was a clean job. Anyway he is no longer allowed in the backyard by himself. Also I don’t think he is ever going to get potty trained. I have walked him for what seemed miles and he will not do his duty, then when we get home he will poop on the nice carpet in our rental house. Yes, I too think I would like to give him away, until he comes over to me for a hug and pet. Dogs.

    • Deborah, dogs have a unique “something,” don’t they? But we love ’em! Thanks for telling me about your little friend.