Herminda has started this new thing where she bribes Duncan with treats she carries around in her pockets all day so now Duncan thinks all humans have treats in their pockets and he insists on sniffing the pockets of anyone who comes in the door.

This morning Herminda showed up around 8:00 and did the typical treat routine just as I was trying to feed Duncan his breakfast. I was calling him over to his food, but he wasn't listening to a word I was saying.

BACK IN MY DAY dogs ate all of their food the moment you poured it into a bowl.

Duncan hunger strikes for two days at a time. He will not eat the food. I try to get him interested in it, but his kibble consumption has to be on his own terms.

He hunger strikes when I'm not in the house. He has never, not once, ever, taken a bite of his food when I haven't been home.

And I periodically get worried about the hunger striking because he seems so skinny to me but that might just be because I'm comparing him to Mr. Chubby Pants.

Matt swears that the vet told him a couple of weeks ago that Mr. Pants is a healthy weight and that he's just "big furred." All I know is that Mr. Pants is currently nearly double the size of the Doodle.

I've tried not to worry too much about the hunger striking because despite eating no food ever, Duncan is still the most energetic creature on planet Earth.

He refuses to learn how to not pull on the leash and you can save all of your witch-dogtor advice about how I could better train him because I've tried it all and none of it works.

Duncan was born to pull a dog sled, and he cannot be talked out of this.

What this means is that when I take him on three- or five-mile runs on the leash, he is pulling me with all of his strength the entire time.

When I run off-leash with him, he literally probably quadruples the distance I run because he sprints far up ahead, turns around, sprints to me, turns around, sprints up ahead, etc.

AND THEN. After all of that pulling/quadrupling. THEN. We get home and he immediately. Without fail. Wants to spend the rest of the day playing Throw the Bone, which you might refer to as "fetch" at your house.

When the dog squad all gets together, each dog takes turns playing with Duncan while the others rest.

So it is truly a Christmas miracle that Duncan is able to be the way he is without eating any food ever. I believe he may be a Celestial Being.

This morning, as Herminda was feeding Duncan treats from her pockets, she noticed that I was trying to get Duncan to go eat his breakfast.

Herminda stood up straight, pointed at Duncan, and stared into his eyes.

Duncan quietly stared back at her with a level of concentration he has never deigned to waste on me.

And then, she started speaking Spanish to him.

Not Spanish like one might typically use to talk to a dog. Not slow and enunciated simple words.

It was like how Ricky Ricardo sounds when he comes home and finds out that Lucy brought a horse into the house.

Just rapid and long complex sentences that contained exactly zero sounds that were familiar to me.

The diatribe lasted 30 seconds, and when she was done, Duncan turned around, went to his food bowl, and started eating breakfast.

When Herminda noticed the look of shock on my face, she informed me, like I was an idiot for not already knowing: "Duncan speaka da Spanish."

~It Just Gets Stranger