Monday, January 9, 2012

Doggone It

Have you ever read Dog Stories by James Herriot?  It’s a collection of canine tales by a Vet, from heart-warming to heart-breaking with a smattering of hysterical ones too. Judging by the success of John Grogan’s book Marley & Me, I’m not the only one who enjoys really rotten bad-dog stories. My BFF’s dog, let’s call him Sprocket, glued his teeth together. Chasing a mouse frantically through the garage, he cornered it inside a box. Ferociously eating his way through the box, that apparently had been assembled with glue, bits of the cardboard got jammed between his teeth. The bits combined with his saliva and re-hydrated the glue, and voila!  Find Sprocket foaming at the mouth, thrashing wildly through the house and try to catch him and figure out why. Unfortunately for him, Sprocket is getting on in years (though he hasn’t noticed yet) and has a terminal illness (though he hasn’t noticed yet) and Dad took him to the Vet. No worries, there were children involved. Dad shelled out and the Vet made everything right. Well as right as a Jack Russell can ever be. Shortly after that he got sprayed by a skunk, while he was inside the house. Chasing the little critter from window to window and barking enthusiastically, apparently the skunk got fed up.

My sister has a lively, spirited dog with mismatched eyes. Let’s call her Yipper (I’m referring to the dog of course). Yipper bounds everywhere, basically keeping all four legs rigid she just – boing-boing-boings through life. She has varying speeds and heights. There is the just woke up and we’re all still alive boing-boing-boing that goes to about knee level, if there is food involved we’ll be reaching hip level, if you left and came back – say from the bathroom with an absence of maybe fifteen seconds – about waist-high which makes it easier for her to leap into your arms and tongue your face whether you like it or not. Stranger at the door?  Definitely chest high. People tend to take her exuberance personally, “Wow, she really likes me,” says the UPS guy. It is super cute, for about an hour. I’ve watched her before, and I’ll tell you, by about day three…  You’re starting to think about things you’ve seen done in a rodeo.

Sadly, both my own award-winning bad dogs went to the happy hunting grounds this past year. All the baby bunnies in the forest rejoiced, but my family still mourns. I used to race them, to the mailbox and back, to the barn and back. I luved it when they cheated, taking a head-start, they hated to lose to a two-legger. They liked to sneak into the garden and eat tomatoes until they were so bloated there was no way to hide the crime. Not that dogs can ever lie effectively anyway, I mean does any creature look as guilty as a dog?  Their eyes confess to crimes they didn’t even commit, you just have to ask, “What’d you do?”  Mine were all over making restitution though, like trotting confidently into the house with a live shrew held gently in their muzzle, dropping it at my feet and smiling up at me. I have a friend whose dog once dragged home an entire dead emu. She said he backed into the yard, heaving and pulling, glowing with pride from a successful hunt. Then there are those gifts all dog owners are familiar with, like when you’re woken up in the morning with, “Mom!  The dog left you a present.”   Whatever that might consist of, it surely does not make you boing-boing-boing out of bed in the morning.

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