Deceptive Signs

I am sitting here (I often do that) and pondering the amazing pictures that develop before my eyes.  I try to make sense of them if any sense is to be made.  A thunderous herd of thoughts and mental pictures charge wildly through my little brain knocking over all the furnishings that I have, over the years, so carefully placed in my cranial attic.

This attic has been my upstairs playground for a few decades now.  I go there among my toys to escape the outside noise and confusion.  As well as toys, there are boxes full of ideas from long ago fantasies and childhood dreams all stacked in dusty corners.  Sometimes I wonder how I can keep so many memories in such tight quarters.

The pictures in my mind are not just two-dimensional things: they are complex, and blended anew with what can be seen of the present day world from my attic windows.  The newer pictures are blended and splashed with the many random colors taken from very old sections of unfinished jigsaw puzzles found laying around in the vortex of previously unchallenged truths.  Sometimes, the images don’t come into focus very well, but I am a master of the art of fuzzy thinking.

The dawgs have been catalysts (sounds like someone who believes in cattle; operates with cattle, or behaves somewhat like cattle) for opening up closets in my attic that turned out to be huge, unused hallways.  When you look at my head, it is hard to imagine the adjective “huge” to describe anything about it.  There are no psychedelic metaphors here because such as that would be expensive stuff, and I’m on a limited budget.

Input for my newly found space became books written by people who are supposed to be experts on dawgs.  After all, why else would publishers accept their work?  My opinions of publishers crumble.

There are many theories about animal husbandry on the market, but I’m already married.  Some authors suggest you should never beat a dawg.  With some trepidation and fear of reprisal, I offer to you that those authors, wise and wonderful as they must be in their own minuscule worlds, shall have had no experience with certain special breeds.  Obviously, they are limited to breeds that can be house-broken.

Such breeds as mine are shining examples of exceptions to the rule: they vary in every way if a rule is to be written down about how to raise and care for dawgs.  A parallel exists here somewhere to raising my children, but unless you are here living it, the parallel may seem obscure.  I don’t wish to slander, or imply that Dr. Spock was an idiot, but the road I’ve taken was not on his map.

There is absolutely nothing I have learned in life that would interest any of my three sons in the least…unless I mutter it under my breath.  They see me only as the infinite source if invalid opinions, and that I must have lead a confused life to have arrived uneducated, uncultured, and naive as I appear before them.

The boys know that it is wrong to put their feet on the couch or the coffee table.  At least I think they should know it, because that lesson has been reviewed often enough.  Yet, they will violate that rule even when their mother is in the room and can see them.  It is a challenge to the primary observations made in every study done on the subject of early childhood development and education in the area of retention of learning.  My observations would make a ground-breaking dissertation in that field if any useful or logical conclusions could be drawn…but they cannot.

An innocent bystander might think them to be suicidal if observing Brenda’s facial expressions and vocal tones.  A bystander would do just that…stand by, or even take a few steps back.  But the boys are satisfied with Brenda’s unconditional loving and affection.  They are comfortable believing that when the end of time comes for them, it will not be caused by any act done by their mother.  I’m not sure they see me in the same light.

The dawgs will from time to time, hop up onto the couch.  But if I ask them, in the name of the Lord (or with the name of the Lord), to get off, they will.  They make their escape by way of the coffee table unless Brenda is in the room.  They do not go near that little piece of furniture if she is looking for fear of being beaten to death.  The dawgs are smarter than my sons.

It is not from the lack of instruction that causes a deficiency in my children’s education, nor is it from the lack of study.  They are studious.

David studies limitations: the limit of towels left on the bathroom floor; activity commitments made for any 24 hour period, and parental patience.  Additionally, he is doing research on the limits of punishment that can be withstood by hair follicles and eardrums, which is natural at his age.  I studied the same course.  And he will find, as I did, that follicles and drums change places in adulthood: hair grows only in ears, and the top of an older man’s head can take on the appearance of a bongo.  There are other limitations that come with age, but they are too numerous to list here.

I’ve mentioned before that Nathan is a curious child, so it is no wonder that his quest continues to be: “what would happen if I were to…?”

Some examples of his recent examinations are: putting the cat and the Guinea pig in the same cage; testing the effects of a hair spray blow torch on the commode and tub, the contents of the kitchen trashcan and an old tennis shoe.  He also wants to  judge the impact of a stick jammed into the operating mechanisms of the electric garage door opener, and investigate using his little brother as a 20 amp fuse while checking out a damaged lamp cord.

Mason is eight years old.  He’ll benign on his next birthday.  he is up to something, but we’re not sure what it is.  He always does his work at school well, but with a style that includes very animated behaviors.  We were shocked recently to see his report card went beyond academic excellence, but that he also got “very satisfactory” in conduct, which was quite out of character.  This, I’m sure, was an intentional attempt to divert focus, but from what, we don’t know.

Bringing home a perfect report card is a mean trick to play on parents because they just aren’t expecting it.  At my meanest stage, I never did that to my parents…not even once.  We will keep an eye on that boy.

Brenda likes to look on the bright side, especially when it concerns the children.  So, she proudly spoke of Mason’s excellent progress review to a neighbor whose own child has no interests in the direction of scholarship.

“I’d have my kid examined by a psychologist if he ever brought home straight A’s”, the neighbor said.

I don’t have a whole lot of faith in psychologists, as so many of them are out of work.  I see their field of study listed as if it were an asset on applications for warehouse jobs.  Many of them claim to be authors of books.  They’ve obviously been unemployed long enough to write one declaring themselves to be an expert on certain patterns of behavior, but how so many experts spring from the ranks of the unemployed befuddles me a bit.

I think there is some similarity to be found between books on self-help, and pet-help.  The marginal utility may be little more than the time spent writing the book, with all practical experience apparently unnecessary.  If the only book review is in the form of an advertisement on the back of a grocery store tabloid, I wouldn’t recommend it.  Books about managing dawgs are deficient about certain breeds, especially for the ones that are of no breed in particular at all.

Mutts are not genetically engineered to the restrictive behaviors related to just hunting rabbits, or just hunting squirrels, or just fetching sticks, or just herding sheep and cattle, or just jumping hurdles.   Mutts tend to hunt livestock and sticks; fetch dead squirrels from the middle of the street, and jump your neighbor’s leg.

Some training is possible: you can teach such dawgs to heel and sit by using duct tape.  These two techniques are prerequisite to teaching them to beg.  They will begin begging as soon as they see the tape appear.  Fetching is instinctive: just discard anything you don’t want anymore, and the dawg will find it and take it into the kitchen.

Teaching them to sip from a cup or be polite around company will prove most difficult.  When company arrives, the dawg will almost immediately want to know all of their secrets.  That these secrets are sure to come out on judgment day anyway does not provide any immediate relief for your company even though it has been said that confession is good for the soul.  So, the dawgs’ practice of inquiring with their noses will cause some awkward moments in the conversation, and you can bet on it.

It is easier to teach a dawg to walk with a limp than with a leash.  You can do it with a shoe.  After the first couple of lessons, the dawg will limp by simply showing them the shoe: holding it in your hand.  Bringing out a leash causes great excitement.  You may intend a leisurely walk, but the dawg intends some desecration to the neighbor’s shrubbery.  Best to just show them the shoe.  They’ll limp off next door to the boxwoods and be home in time for supper.

This allows for  a quiet walk by myself leaving both hands free to fiddle with my pipe and matches, unless Brenda is out of hair spray.  If that is the case, I’m probably out of matches as well.  Nathan is determined to finish his work as long as any quantity of either is available.

In order to bring you current on Ashley Cooper, we finally discovered she was in false heat.  It is the only account of it in the medical history of dawgs, but people do it all the time.  Unlike dawgs, people show a serious lack of obedience when it comes to natural law.  This is an indictment of mankind’s obstinacy where the laws of nature are concerned: man wants to make up his own laws in opposition to natural law, and blame God for it.

The laws of the natural universe are what we assume to be the way things are, and are consistent with we think are the rules and operating procedures of what is commonly called the creation.  Creation, then, operates in accordance with the nature of the way it is.  If it is flawed in some way, pointing it out might imply a mistake was made in the planning.

Yet, some would want you to think the author of that creation wishes you to ignore those natural laws, and instead, abide by an arbitrary set of regulations imposed by clerics in opposition to whatever nature calls for.  I suspect this implied state of grace might not be as graceful some would have you believe.

Although Cosmo Topper was disappointed in Ashley’s heat being a false one, he is dealing with the depression fairly well.  We did not seek therapy because Brenda thought it would be unfair to her.  After all,  if the budget did not allow her a nervous breakdown, it shouldn’t allow one for a dawg, either.  If ol’ Topper can’t bounce back easily, he’ll just have to have a conniption like the rest of us.

Some of you television addicts may have seen Jim Bakker hiding under a desk during recent trial proceedings.  Topper is doing similarly, and like Bakker, motivated by some embarrassment.

Please forgive my comparing Bakker’s behavior to a dawg, although I’m probably not the first to do so.  If I had a goat or a pig, the comparison might be more charitable, but Topper takes no offense.  Dawgs are generally more forgiving than most Christians.  These same said Christians are too occupied with judgments to have much time for any concept of forgiveness; it seems foreign to them, and not in vogue with their politics (which to many is much more important).

I make no comparison here between Ashley Cooper and Bakker’s wife, Tammy, because Ashley wears no make-up.  If Ashley Cooper is begging for a handout, she is honest about her intentions: she intends to eat it.  She makes no pretense of being a “middleman” to receive it, and bless it, and pass it on to some higher calling.  Ashley’s collar is made of chain; not cloth.

Ashley Cooper makes no comment on any news of natural disasters at all.  If she did, there would be no implication that such happenings were Deity-imposed punishments directed at any of our neighbors’ dawgs for barking no matter how late or how loudly they barked.  Even if the barking up the street was a nervousness not brought on by intrusion, but maybe just the wind, Ashley does not call down any supernatural castigation.

But Tammy Bakker sees  the world differently.  She suggested with some appearance of conviction that hurricane “Hugo” and a recent California earthquake were punishments from the Deity in response for they way this country was treating her dear, saintly husband.  I have trouble arriving to the same conclusion, but I’m not ordained so I cannot be expected to see all things as clearly as can some of the clergy that have their own television shows.

Perhaps other places on the globe could fall victim to calamity and my prejudices might allow some suspicion of intervention.  The entire Middle-East has for thousands of years been a center for war, cultural hatred, torture, terrorism, and other inhumanities with no respect for women and children, and such is a way of life there.  It is so commonplace, that few sane people want to take extended vacation there, or expect things to really get much better.

The War Between the States went on here for about four years and was a horrible thing to have happen to people.  Imagine it lasting for about four-thousand years with no end in sight.  But in man’s brilliance and insightful awareness, he calls the Middle-East “The Holy Land”.  This could be taken as some measure of inadequacy of omnipotence and therefore inconsistent with reason.

But in spite of the notoriety of the Bakkers’, many people still send money to well-heeled evangelists wearing Rolex watches.  People also buy the latest popular “How To…” books written by anybody who can afford to be photographed in a clean shirt and forge a set of credentials.  Be careful of shams.  The disparities between value and retail price may be astounding.

I will offer you some advice here free of any additional price, thus establishing its fair market value, and proportionately reducing the harm it could cause.  The more you pay for something the more likely you will use it, compounding the mischief associated with deceit.  There is no deception in this:

If a dawg acts like it needs to go outside in the middle of the night, it does.  This is one of the few times you can be fairly certain a dawg is telling the truth.  If you don’t get up right away, better put your shoes on when you do.  Be careful not to let the dawgs see where you keep your shoes: they will drag them off to destruction.

If a dawg commits a severe social error in the night, it will not be on any hard surface like linoleum; it will be on carpet or linen.  Let the dawg out.  It will run next door to a rose bush or something (which is kind of like using scented toilet paper).  Brenda says I should not write about such things.  She is a lady, so I give credit (though no honest apology) at this point to her objections.

The veterinarian says Ashley Cooper’s heart worm treatments were successful, and her heart will heal nicely.  Her false pregnancy and false heat healed and went away; her ear mites are gone, and even her brain is showing some healing.  All previous experience and training have left no scar tissue: she remembers next to nothing of what she learned yesterday, and we’re sure today’s lessons will scab over nicely before we go to bed.

With all the expensive medications she has received, even her fleas have healed: they are the healthiest fleas in Georgia, and she is immune to their biting.  Cosmo Topper, deprived of so much medicine, is not immune to the fleas, and may scratch himself to death.

The two dawgs make up a fine rhythm band: Topper’s hind leg thumping the floor and Ashley’s elephant trunk-like tail thumping the nightstand on Brenda’s side of the bed.  Keeping dawgs in the house is no cure for insomnia.

So, then what intellectually sound motive is there for keeping big ol’ dawgs in the house?  Companionship?  With fine family and friends, my cup runneth over in that department even without the dawgs.  That leaves the possibility of the peace of mind that come with the feeling of security.

That we should be safe from burglars is a joke: our pets would enjoy the company of a burglar, and find them to be entertaining especially in the varieties offered by new smells.  Besides, our dawgs only bark if we try to leave them outside at bedtime.  When they see strangers, they just wag their tails.

We have considered putting the dawgs in with the children at night since the boys are young and can sleep through anything.  They lack the experience of worry brought on by car maintenance bills and IRS audits.  They have no fears of our rickety old furnace burning the house down around us, and to them, an invasion from outside is unthinkable.

The relocation of canine sleeping arrangements were discussed with my sons.  David laughed; went to his room and closed the door.  This put the other two on alert, so the bill died in committee.

After listening to Ashley Cooper’s tail pounding away happily against the nightstand until the wee hours, Brenda sat up in bed, and suggested we have her tail cropped.  She said it would cut down on the drumming; reduce the unnecessary sweeping of the coffee table at inappropriate moments, minimize bruises on our legs caused by the affectionate whippings we get from that hairy appendage, and improve her cosmetics–making her appear more ferocious to strangers.

She (Ashley, not Brenda) is too old for that.  Her tail is her gyroscope and without it, she would crash dangerously into things.  As for appearances, she would look stupid rather than vicious.  Her silly grin would give her away, and her vibrating stub would cause her to look like a giant wind-up toy, or a pig.  Maybe that was what Brenda had in mind.

Besides, with all the medication that dawg has had, she is a walking pharmacy full of healing drugs.  Her tail would just grow back like a lizard’s.

Well, I reckon the dawgs are here for the laughter they provide us.  They are, after all, entertaining.  And, they seem to like us, which is appreciated.   They act like they appreciate us, too.  The dawgs seem grateful for a little petting and playtime, and always respond with gratitude when fed.  People should take note, and complain less whenever charity is afoot.  Beyond that, there is always a daily lesson in honesty to be had from dawgs, as they seem to tell few lies of substance, and have very little exposure to a sense of guilt about anything.

I think of two quotes by Mark Twain that apply here:

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”

“Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to.”

So, generally speaking, the deceptive signs we might see in a dawg, come from our own perceptions of circumstances for which we should generally hold the dawg blameless.  After all, the dawgs didn’t force their way in here: I brought them in.  Neither of them show any resentment about that, though at times, perhaps they should.


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