I Violated the Protocol
Let me set the scene:
Awhile back, I'm at a dive bar in the Mission. I walk in with a group of friends, and the first thing I see as my eyes adjust to the darkness is two enormous dogs wrestling on the floor.
Typical dive bar in the Mish. You know.
There is a third dog, "Bandit," who is fetching a beer coaster thrown by patrons of the establishment. She's good, too-- she catches the coaster in mid-air, brings it back, and then stares at it, waiting for it to be thrown again. She's 100% focused on the coaster. What a good dog!
I love dogs, so I start to throw the coaster for her. The first time, she runs and catches it, brings it back. I throw it again, she brings it back. We're playing. We're having fun! Right?
Then I reach for the coaster again, somewhat absent-mindedly, and all of a sudden, Bandit bites my hand. It shocked me more than it hurt.
I'm looking at my hand to assess the damage, when a guy at the bar says, "she'll do that. You don't want to grab it til she's ready."
"Oh," I say. "Sorry."
Apparently this is Bandit's owner. He's wearing extra long shorts, a wife beater, a Yankees hat and a not insignificant amount of tattoo ink. He looked like a cross between Kevin Federline and a Sharpie. This look is known in the Mission as "totally normal."
Fortunately, Bandit didn't break the skin. It was just a nip, Bandit's way of letting me know, "hey, I wasn't ready. Pay attention."
"It's not like she's got rabies or nothin," chimes in another guy at the bar.
Of course not, I wasn't worried about that. Bringing a rabid dog into a bar would be irresponsible. Everyone knows that.
The friend who brought me to this particular establishment was sympathetic, but also kindly explained to me what must have happened.
"I guess you violated the protocol," she said.
What is this, a United Nations meeting? Were we following Robert's Rules of Order?
"Mr. Chairman, I'd like to introduce a motion that I be allowed to throw a beer coaster for a dog in a bar. Second? All in favor? Opposed? The motion is carried."
I should have known, actually. If I had been paying closer attention, I would have noticed that Bandit really did have a protocol. She would retrieve the coaster, then fiddle with it a bit at your feet before dropping it and taking a step back to signal that, hey, human, time for you to throw it again.
I wasn't paying attention, so I missed the signal. Thus, the nip on the hand. My bad.
I mean sure, it would have been nice if K-Fed/Sharpie had shown a little interest in my well-being. But hey, I did violate the protocol.