In a day dreaming mode, I casually looked out the window. I noticed dirt flying, but that is not so much a credit to my keen eye, as most any one of you would’ve noticed it. I stood up to see who might be out there with a shovel, and was surprised to see only a dawg.
Ashley Cooper was excavating a tunnel under my patio. She was going at it with some enthusiasm, otherwise the dirt would not have been thrown so high up into the air. It is an election year in Georgia, so slinging both dirt and mud is quite common. I just didn’t expect the dawgs to get in on it.
It’s a wonder she waited so long. As the end of a hot summer draws near, the large black dawg seeks out a cool place to den. Some may say she is preparing for the winter, but I don’t give her credit for thinking that far ahead. But the one thing I admire, is that this was her own idea, and she did not wait around to be told to do it. I suppose there should be a lesson to all of us in that.
You should see her dig. She has skills equal to those of well trained civil engineers, and most of them would not be able to keep up with her. Maybe she finds the cool earth soothing to itchy places on her skin. After all, we all have to live in our own skin, thick or thin, and we have to be the judge for ourselves as to matters of comfort. While she has chosen a spot where I do not need or want a hole, Ashley has taught me that any effort to discourage her when she wants to dig will be a waste of time.
The rash on her lip caused by the mange has not gone away. The symtoms are, as the vet pointed out, likely to be stress related, and we do not suffer a shortage of it around here. Why the emotional state of a host animal would put parasite mites in motion is beyond me, but that is supposed to be the trigger. How she managed to avoid the tripwire ’til now is a curiosity. But then, in all fairness to her, I should not hold her to standards set for the average dawg. Ashley has always set her own standards with no regard for restrictions that might be established for the rest of the species.
She may have harbored the disease since puppyhood, but it did not manifest itself by so much as a pimple until recently. Yet her lifestyle has always been full of stress and trauma, and she seems to thrive on it. I tried to identify some one thing to blame it on, but there have been so many.
Recently, a neighbor’s dawg came down to pee on the fence, not that it needed it. Topper has always taken care of any portion of the fence line that would be wanting such treatment. Seems some argument about it broke out amongst the dawgs, and Ashley Cooper attempted to climb the fence. When she jumped back down, one of her hind legs stayed tangled in the mesh of the chain link long enough for her twist it beyond the endurance of the design of most ligaments, tendons, and muscle tissues. Though the sprain was diagnosed as little more than a pulled muscle, she had to go back to taking aspirin because the event aggravated her arthritis.
A pulled muscle. That could be painful if your entire body was one huge solid muscle including inside the cavity where you’d otherwise expect a brain to be lodged. The veterinarian said she would walk funny for awhile. She did. Imagine having to run in a track meet wearing a brand new pair of bluejeans, but not allowed the benefit of talcum power. She looked so uncomfortable, and no doubt she was.
Bless her, she’s had a run of bad luck, and seems to draw it in to herself as if she were a magnet for it. Had she been on the boat with Jonah, they would have thrown her overboard first, which could’ve changed the outcome of the whole story. Compared to her, Jonah would’ve looked like a good luck charm.
Treatments for the red mite mange resumed. Shortly after these treatments began, I was transported into antiquity with the passing of another anniversary of my birth. One of my sisters thought I might need a large, shiny, colorful helium filled mylar balloon with a red ribbon attached to it. I would have preferred a bottle of Scotch, but a balloon is a nice thing to have, or so I thought.
I did not know, nor do I know how such came about, but Ashley Cooper’s greatest fear is to be in the same room with a balloon. I’m sure my sons might have a better clue about what may be behind this fear than I do. Nathan, who will soon have had one year of life experience for the eleventh time (if we let him live), thought it would be funny to tie the balloon to the dawg’s collar. Harnessed up in such fashion, a hound cannot outrun a balloon. The balloon will stay right up there with the dawg, and follow its every turn.
Cosmo Topper shows no anxiety in the presence of inflatables, unless they pop. Sudden noises bother him, but balloons otherwise seem to represent no threat at all. Ashley, on the other hand, almost ran herself to death. No room in the house was not visited by her and her trailer, and one time I saw her spin out on a throw-rug. Though she fell down, her legs kept running in place during the brief moment before getting back up to continue her mad dash throughout the rest of the house.
Nathan laughed hysterically along with his little brother Mason. I finally had to tackle the dawg to get the balloon off her collar. Her legs never came out of running mode the whole time, and the poor pup was trying to say something in some strange foreign language that I couldn’t understand. I think it was a combination of the balloon, and that she had to run so hard with a pulled muscle and arthritis that pushed the button. The next morning her rash on her lip was back in full bloom, and she could barely walk.
We went to the veterinary clinic again for another bottle of buzzard breath-laced dragon venom. From the price of it, you’d think one of the ingredients might be gold dust. I was beginning to think the diagnosis might be wrong, and wondered if the vet ever cleans the lens of his microscope. At least the arthritis and pulled muscle was still treatable for the price of aspirin, so I didn’t need to go see a pawn broker.
We headed back home to begin an application of something that was turning my yard into Love Canal. By now, I’ve outfitted myself for this operation, and dress up similar to the way astronauts do for a space walk. The cost of such an outfit may seem extravagant, but I figured I was in it for the long-haul.
She’s getting used to it, and may even look forward to it, to some degree. As soon as I let her out of the car, Ashley ran over beside the tree where the washing always takes place, and sat down. I don’t mind her enthusiasm, but I wish she wouldn’t smile so big about it. It’s just so unbecoming of a dawg to do that.
After several treatments, she looked a little better. The boys decided to mow the lawn, but it was not their idea. Unlike Ashley Cooper’s motivation to dig a hole, the boys waited to be told to cut the grass. My youngest is of the opinion that yard work and other chores needing to be done are the only reasons we ever had children. If that were true, the economy of it would make it the stupidest decision I’ve ever made, and I’ve made some doozies. In spite of how he might feel right now, having this family has been one of the better things I’ve ever done, and to have slave labor wasn’t a part of the plan at all.
When the boys went around to the back yard, they forgot to close the gate behind them. With the gate left open, the two dawgs took off on a holiday. They may have been planning an escape, or had business to tend to, but I think it was just that dawgs don’t care much for the sound of lawnmowers.
I got in the car and rode around the block looking for them, but didn’t see any sign. I called and whistled, and in a few hours, Cosmo Topper came home covered in mud. For a dawg that doesn’t care to get in the water, I’m always a little surprised when he does that. My oldest son, David, gave Topper a good washing for me. But upon some reflection, I’m not sure if the motive was for charity towards me, or for the dawg. We found Ashley again the next morning asleep on the front porch.
We aren’t sure where all she went, or what all she did, but it must have been a stimulating experience. Her limp was restored to its former glory, and within a day, her upper lip looked like she’d been eating strawberry jam. We went back to see the vet for the purpose of transferring funds from our checking account to his. A thing like this could lead to him having a tax problem. Please pray for the man.
I had just gotten comfortable in my chair. I was in need of, and ready for a quiet moment, and got it–a short moment, but a moment just the same. A commotion coming from the back yard caused me to abandon any hope of a nap. Seems the neighbor’s dawg had returned to pay us another visit. This time, instead of staying on the outside of the fence, he climbed over. Perhaps he thinking it might be fun to play with our puppies, but that was a mistake. It proved to have been not well thought out at all.
Now Topper has been called a watch dawg, but up ’til now, it was an honorary degree. He never had to prove his credentials before, and no proof of such talent had ever been manifest. True, we had seen him bark through a fence and growl a few times, but that is the same as having never drawn your weapon except on the firing range for target practice. He wore no combat ribbons.
It didn’t take the neighbor’s dawg long to realize Topper did not want to play, so he decided to leave the same way he’d gotten in: by climbing back over the fence. Each attempt was thwarted as Topper would grab him back down to stomp on him, and bite on him some more. Ashley stood back yelping and wagging her tail. I’m sure she would have pitched in if Topper had needed help, but he didn’t need any.
I think the visitor was getting desperate. Seeing me walk out there didn’t ease his mind at all, and perhaps he was thinking I might want to bite him, too. With one last thrust of sheer will fueled with panic, he bounded back over the fence, and ran quickly up the street without looking back.
We checked Topper, and he was without a scratch, which I’m sure is more than could be said of the neighbor’s dawg. After a day or so, with Ashley seeming to hold her own cosmetically, my wife decided it was unfair for the dawgs to get to see a doctor so much more frequently than I do. I knew better than to argue with Brenda, so I scheduled, and went for a physical. All engines were running normally, but I was referred to a dermatologist for dry cleaning.
I did not have the mange, but since I’ve been treated for it so thoroughly, that was to be expected. I did, however, have some skin the doctor thought unnecessary, so he removed it. It was barely a piece big enough to fill a Barbie doll hat, but it felt like he’d cut out a flank steak. In its place, he put some stitches. I’m sure some conversation between my wife and my sisters included the word “surgery”.
The next day, six shiny, colorful, helium filled mylar balloons tied to long red ribbons were delivered to my door along with a note that said: “Get Well Soon”. Topper paid them no mind. Ashley Cooper ran down the hallway to the bathroom, hyperventilated, and passed out. Although I got rid of the balloons, the poor dawg lurked about for two days expecting them to pounce on her at any moment. So sad; so pathetic. The balloons were gone, but I saved the card, and gave it to Ashley. I don’t think she even read it.
Like one of my canine companions, I will from time to time be sent to the doctor so they can remove a little skin from my body and my billfold. I have no fear of balloons, but it is rational that I take some precaution about overexposure to the sun. What Ashley Cooper fears is irrational.
Rational or not, she is terrified of balloons. As irrational as that may be, it is the fear, and her behavior because of it that does her harm. Irrational fears may not cause skin cancers in humans, but they do seem to be responsible for some blemishes in their politics. This is a gubernatorial election year. One side says the cold water is hot, and the other side says the hot water is cold. Both sides say I should be terrified should their opposition win. Well, I am convinced they are both right. That cannot possibly be rational, so I’ll probably break out with the mange.