Wages of Adventure

I have to mention famous dawgs like Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin: they are the Archbishops in the hierarchy of dawgdom, and probably dispense blessings and sign autographs at shopping malls during the dawg days every summer.  They earn huge salaries and are afforded luxuries most dawgs cannot even dream of.  All they have to do is behave constantly in some type of heroic style on the level of the minimum standard of the Medal of Honor.  For this, they are well fed and fancily groomed, and get to ride in limousines as a bonus.

These fancier, and highly intelligent breeds come at a price I cannot afford, but then so do mutts: payments escalate for free ones the longer you keep them.  Mine consume more than they produce, and are completely dependent on the generosities of those who would employ me–not them.

I reckon my canines have no pedigree (I’m sure we’ve paid extra for that feature).  They have no birth certificates to prove their citizenship.  Nor do they have so much as a green card, so it is no wonder they are suspicious of strangers…strangers could be immigration, or from the Department of Revenue, which is worse.

It is this fear that causes so much barking whenever a garbage truck or mail carrier comes down the street.  God bless the meter-readers, too.  My neighbor’s dawg (Hitler) provides more than a little entertainment in this arena: not so much as a leaf can blow across the yard without her announcing it.  She would be superior as a burglar alarm except for the character flaw of the wolf who cried boy.

But neighbor’s dawgs can be fun.  My father’s neighbor has a dawg that always wants to start games with Daddy.  Dad has a green thumb.  He plants flowers, herbs, bushes and exotic trees in his “Garden of Eden”.

The dawg comes by often to dig the holes for him, though there is from time to time (usually always) some disagreement about location.  But they are both civilized about it.  They keep their debates within the guidelines of “Robert’s Rules of Order” (a document rarely found in the halls of congress): Papa doesn’t bite the dawg, and the dawg doesn’t shoot Dad in the butt with an air rifle.

Further attributes worthy of note is that the dawg does not blaspheme, and Dad does not desecrate his neighbor’s hub caps (not that he hasn’t thought about it).  These examples of selfless and polite submissions to etiquette do not come without a price, if you consider the assessment of regrets.

Our dawgs don’t wait for a neighbor’s mutt to wander by needing work; they go ahead and dig in case I decide to plant something (which is a rare moment these days).  But in other matters, the bothersome duo are coming to terms with us.  This happens in time when ambiguities give way to what you will and respectively will not stand for.  In the matter of sleep, I believe we finally wore them down–they needing it as much as we did.  Sooner or later, staying up all day, and all night, and all day again takes a toll even on the heartiest of us.

While it is prudent to keep an eye on her, Ashley Cooper is allowed longer periods off the chain these days.  She is less inclined to back-slide into her sinful life of adventure outside the fence, but like alcoholism, it can be controlled although it is almost impossible to cure.

I used sin and adventure in the same sentence because while some clergy do not think them synonymous, it is often hard to tell ’em apart at any distance to speak of.  The punishment is often the same.  But the remuneration for adventure can be the same as refraining from it in the long run: all living things die, but you can get an advance on your allowance if you go at it fast enough.

Many years ago, a cousin (one of the ones we call “Cuz”) took a hike through the woods.  He often did that: still does.  His motives were innocent enough, but it was an adventure, so there had to be some punishment in the recipe or the cake wouldn’t rise.  Well, the cake that day stood tall, but the frosting was not appetizing.  Still, it didn’t kill him as much as I’m sure he thought at the time it was going to.

He found himself down an embankment up to his everlasting expectations in mud.  He reached up to grab hold of a branch or tree root jutting out of the lip of the bank intending to use the leverage to free himself from the mud hole.  That he disturbed a hornet’s nest was not his intention.  I know him well enough to say that.  But the nest was a large one, and active.  The wasp-like hellions covered him in less time than it takes to sing the preamble to a fart.

He survived when most of us wouldn’t have.  He was lucky in that the person who found him there didn’t panic.  I’m  sure I’d have panicked enough to get us both stung to death, but his hero got him out of there with stings kept to a minimum.  He said while unable to see, and holding motionless; barely able to breathe in the forest for what seemed like endless hours, he had many thoughts–some religious; some not.  I never asked if he had considered the song: “I Was Sinking Deep In Sin, Far From the Peaceful Shore”.  To this day, you can chase him all over three counties with any kind of bug–dead or alive.

Cuz has a keen mind, and I struggle to keep up with him whenever our minds head off down the path of a conversation.  It is like that with many of my cousins, and even with my own wife and children who have motorized cerebral accelerators.  My brain box is the old-fashioned single-speed kind that you have to pedal.

The dawgs continue to chase squirrels in the yard.  It isn’t so much to catch them (which they do not) as much it is to share their admiration for agility, and to praise it.  Once a squirrel has treed itself, the dawgs take proper seats in their pews and sing hymns as required by the program.

I’m sure in time when muscle tone becomes less versatile (causing some inflation to the price of a chase), they will eventually just accept the squirrels as part of the landscape.  As these pups get older, they seem more like proper pets, but that could be a delusion.  Perhaps we’re just getting used to the shenanigans.

The rest of us here are facing the winter and the coming of the time of giving.  In a few days my wife will celebrate a birthday that is a milestone, but aren’t they all.  That is as good as any simile for birthday I could come up with on such short notice.

The wind kicks up scattering leaves in the yard much like the scattered thoughts in my head that tumble around in the breezes that gust in the airy hallways of my head.  Sometimes I reach out and grab at a thought as it passes by: I often miss, but once in a while I’ll snag one.

One thought that I’ve latched onto and wish to share with you here, is to recognize that dawg food is seasonal: save the high protein/high fiber stuff for the summertime.  This is especially important if you intend to let the dawgs in at night.  They will commit social errors on such a diet.

Read the label.  Think about how much a big ol’ bowl of soybean and bone meal would resemble a two-pound bran muffin, and consumed about a couple of hours before bedtime.  Imagine chasing it down with a refreshing drink of toilet bowl water followed by some grooming that would get you kicked out of the church.  I must close now, and go fetch a birthday card, or getting kicked out of church will be the least of my worries.

I’d hold off feeding them boiled cabbage, too, even if they’re partial to it.  A friend told me his dawg really chowed down on turnip greens.  I was so impressed that I said:

“Wow!  I didn’t know dawgs liked turnip greens!”

My friend answered:

“Well, he didn’t at first.”

So, while cabbage may be cheap enough, and it may very well provide high adventure, I’d say it is a caution if the dawgs are allowed to come into the house: the damage it could do to the carpet might just break the bank.

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