Hair of the Dawg

I know a lady who’s pet is a miniature hairless Chihuahua.  Compared to it, a snail would look bushy.  I think it could sit in a tea cup and have room to turn around.  She says it’s a dawg.  It looks more like a rat, and yaps all the time so as to appear ferocious.  You could kill it with a fly swatter.

It isn’t one of the working breeds, and the sporting breeds won’t claim it, either.  Well, I reckon you could use it as the birdie in a game of badminton, but that would be about the extent of its use in sports.  A toy breed maybe, but if so, its wound up a little too tight.

Most of the guys I hang around with have a dawg or two.  But these fellas wouldn’t keep a dawg amongst ’em that could get its ass kicked by a gerbil!  No sir, the expression: “that dawg’ll hunt” does not apply to that pathetic little hairless creature unless you’re hunting cockroaches.  If the morning called for a “hair of the dawg”, and that thing was the only supply depot available, you could expect a hangover to last all week.

On that note, Ashley Cooper’s coat is thin for the season.  As I’d mentioned, when she moved here from the coast she evidently didn’t pack for the coming of winter.

That may be some explanation for her ravenous appetite: she’s putting on a fat layer for insulation, and is beginning to look more like a sea lion than a dawg.  It is fair to say she has shown a little more self-control in the area of diet recently.  Since the introduction of the chain, she has made it a habit to not eat anything she cannot reach.  Education can be a marvelous thing.

For those who have ever been on a diet will understand that refraining from eating certain things can be difficult: it takes discipline, and often externally motivated.  I say “motivated”, but if it comes from someplace other than inside of you, it is probably some kind of enforcement intended to accomplish a behavior modification.

I had to modify Ashley Cooper’s taste for stereo headphones recently.  She’d chewed up my old set pretty badly, so I went to the gittin’ place and bought a new set. I knew what to do.  I plugged the new ones into my amplifier, and cued up The latest album of the Rolling Stones.  “C’mere, Ashley”, I said, and quickly strapped ’em over her ears.  I cranked the volume past sanity plus two, and gave her a sample of what headphones can do.

She moved her lips to the words, and danced a little bit, but I’m pretty sure she decided to give up headphones, altogether.  I felt confident that it would work because I’d had to break ol’ Topper of the same sinfulness a couple of years back, and had used the same method.  Topper didn’t dance; he froze–fearful of some unseen huge thing that must be coming at him at great speed and ferocity from both sides.  The hair on the back of his neck stood up like a foxtail broom, and I’ve never seen a dawg’s eyes get so big.

After such a treatment, a dawg will size up objects (like bedroom slippers, guitars and sofa cushions) and imagine how loud they might be if strapped to their ears.  It is a good lesson for dawgs, and I recommend it.  But you must first catch ’em chewing on headphones.  A cheap pair is best to use for bait unless you are made of money.  If they won’t go for it right away, put peanut butter on the headphones.

Other modifications have also worked.  We’ve all been conditioned, by this failure or that, to lower our threshold of self-expectation now and then.  We don’t really try to climb higher up a tree, a ladder or a mountain than we believe we can go without falling.  The rung on the ladder where we stop is the 32nd degree: the freezing point.  We’ve been taught what we can do; we’ve been taught what we can’t do.  And it works (at least in our minds), as long as we believe it works.

Ashley was penned up during her special time; kenneled over the holiday, and chained to a post in between.  I don’t think she’s lost the urge to run away as much as she’s lost the belief in her ability to escape.  It is a common human condition, too.  Even I’ve come to believe that running over the dawg next door with my car must be impossible…Lord knows I’ve tried!

Hitler (that’s not what they call it) is a long-haired weeny dawg with the brain of a goose.  For years that little red-headed (insert appropriate expletives here) has barked viciously at me every single day.

It must wake up in a new world every morning, because even though we’ve lived next door to it for years, it cannot remember who we are.  She barks at the bushes if the wind blows.  Now and then, I take the time to calm her, and pet her.  If I go into the house and come back out, the frantic barking starts all over again even if I’ve only been gone a couple of minutes!

Her perspective is off.  She thinks she’s as big as we are; she thinks she’s a monster.  She isn’t afraid of my car, and tries to bite the tires even while I’m still rolling.  Even so, I can’t run over her.  I give the steering wheel a nudge each day coming home just as she runs out to bite my tires, but my timing is never right.  I’ve tried to time it, but to no satisfaction.  But, while watching her ever so closely, I can still manage to run over bicycles and other toys in the driveway whether they belong to our children, or our neighbor’s children.

All parents go through the chore of trying to get their children to embrace the beauty in putting objects (be it toys, school books or clothing) in the proper place.  Dirty clothes don’t always make it to the hamper in time to be washed.  There is often some issue about which T-shirt belongs to whom.

If our three boys have one clean sock between them this morning, they might have one dirty sock between them tomorrow, if they can find where they put it.  They use the lightning principle: I don’t think they’ve ever put (thrown or dropped) anything down in the same place twice.

But whenever they cannot find something they need, it will be the dawgs that get blamed.  The dawgs are wise to this, and may seek representation.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they hired Hitler next door as counsel.  I’m sure that weeny would argue a case if it had one, because it argues even when it doesn’t.  I’m sure I look forward to seeing that weeny-dawg every day as much as my sons look forward to having their grades sent home from school.

Report cards came out this week.  Those things should be served with some kind of chaser.  They can be harsh straight up.  I have some empathy for what my sons go through at this time, because they aren’t the first boys to pray for some kind of miraculous intervention to influence the grade book.

Most every boy has, at one time or another, experienced a performance review that seems to herald the end of time.  When such a moment occurs, it seems to be an unending nightmare.  A boy’s brain will have great difficulty concocting a plausible explanation, and deep in his heart he wants strongly to believe there should be one.

These are times full of deeply earnest prayers for a boy, and are the most intense religious experiences he can have, until puberty.  It is during these times that beliefs get all tangled up with wishful thinking, and some boys (girls too) never grow out of it.

They envy the dawg; want a pat on the head, some supper, and allowed to go out and play.  But as soon as the report cards are laid on the table and the bets are called, all the air rushes out of the fantasy bubbles.  Lumps form in throats.  But the register of errors and omissions is still there like an open wound that won’t heal or go away just because a parent signs it.  No, it remains sore to be poked at over and over until the next report comes out, prayers notwithstanding.

Some things are just harder to swallow than others.  Take for example, those characters on TV who for some reason think the Deity expects them to dress like Elvis impersonators, and have the audacity to take full credit for praying down the Berlin Wall.

Oh, they say they are giving credit to God, but present it as if it had been their idea to start with, and that it was their convincing prayers did the trick.  Some of ’em also claim ownership in a power that evidently is housed in a huge bolt of fabric, which is for sale along with other baubles…a little piece at a time.  They’ll sell you a portion of it for the proper donation; the amount being the limit of what you can stand.

For twenty or thirty bucks, you can buy one fourth of a fifty-cent handkerchief, and the good part is that they get to keep your money tax free!  For a little extra, you could probably buy a piece of Noah’s Ark, or maybe a pack of apple seeds taken directly from the Garden of Eden.  Let’s all turn in our hymnals and all sing: “Caught in a Trap”.

I don’t care much for that kind of television.  Neither do the dawgs.  I think most of their healing came from the vet (and at a price), but not with so much as a sliver of a handkerchief to blow their noses on, and no magic trinkets for their collars.  They refuse to be Baptized which is fine because you know what wet dawg hair smells like, anyway.

Well, all of this has made me thirsty.  I close for now to focus on quenching my thirst with a tall, stiff drink.  Maybe two.  But I’ll stop at the limit; that is my rule.  I never drink more than I can, and that is my limit.  A hair of the dawg might be called for now and then, but Ashley Cooper can’t afford for me to take too many this winter, or she’d freeze to death.


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