Feb 16, 2005

It's a good thing

that a real dog won Westminster last night. I was about ready to write a very stern letter to those people, telling them that little piles of fluff are not, in fact, real dogs. Big dogs, with long legs and tails and a distinct lack of fourty inches of silk hair that has to be shampooed twice a day and brushed with a velvet cloth is NOT a dog. It's a charm pulled off a bracelet and hung on a leash. It's something a lady finds in her purse while rooting for a hankie. Dogs are meant to crash around in the woods and slobber on the front seat of your truck and jump on your good clothes while they're all covered in mud.

Carlee, a German Short-haired Pointer won Best In Show last night, and be damned it's about time a for-real dog won top honors. Granted, last year a Newfoundland, "Josh" I think was his name-o, won, which was cool, too. Great big ole' black dog, all covered in slobber, thick tail designed to knock over lamps and precious dishes, the whole nine yards. Year before that it was a powderpuff dog, some kind of a silly terrier, and the year beore it was a powderpuff, and the year before, etc.

And damnit, a dog from the Hound group hasn't won in something like forty years--what gives?

When I was a weerelephant, my brother and I had a German Short-haired Pointer, named Scooter. Don't ask me, it seemed to make sense at the time. I swear to you, and I know you've never heard this from a dog owner before, but that dude was SMART. And patient, because I cannot count the number of times we tried to harness him to pull a wagon, or ride on his back, or move him by his tail and ears, or wash him in a #20 galvanised washtub, or do the thousand-and-one things that little boys do to their dogs, and he never bit, never barked a mean thing at us, and never ran off.

He seemed to be able to take an amasing amount of physical damage without ill effect, too--my uncle was clearing a ravine one afternoon, oh, probably 30 years or so ago, preparing a lot for his new house, and Scooter had been hanging out with him all afternoon, watching for squirrels and rabbits to chase. My dear old pup got too close to a backswing and had the blunt side of an axe planted directly on his skull, at speed. A palm-sized chunk of his brainpan was broken loose from the rest of his skull (in one piece, no less) and sunk down about a quarter of an inch to rest, we assume, on that thin membrane that keeps one's brain nice and moist and free of dust and debris. Debris like pieces of skull. The vet said there was nothing they could do about it, and since he seemed to be suffering no ill effects from it (he was perfectly happy, if a bit lopsided looking in the head department) that he should go on home.

We lived with a caved-in-skull-dog for about six months, and slowly, strangely, the piece of skull began lifting back into place, until it had settled right back where it belonged, and the saga of the lop-headed dog ended, with absolutely no effect on his personality, his lovableness, or his ability to catch and eat slow squirrels, or play with us in the front yard in big piles of pine straw. All I can figure is that the muscles under his scalp finally dragged the errant bit of bone back into place, and it fused right back where it should have been the entire time.

He lived for almost 14 years, and finally one day he decided he was done running, lay down under an old outbuilding of ours where he was wont to sleep in the shade and cool sand in the hot afternoons, and passed away quietly. Since then I've had almost no desire to own a dog. Oh, it's still there, that need for a dog's uncompromising love, but somehow I know that any dog I own now will be lacking, just a little bit.


Anonymous said...

What a truly wonderful story involving a boy & a truly loved pet. I feel that the first love is always remembered & never forgotten no matter how many interviews are taken. I know that you have now fallen for the love of many felinens but in your heart beats the loveing memory of "Scooter".

Irrelephant said...

I'm very glad you enjoyed it, because I really enjoyed writing it, and seeing that pretty GSP win Best In Show at Westminster really brought back the memories. That, and living now in the house where I grew up, I keep expecting to turn a corner and see him run up, brown eyes alight, tail lashing his hips, ears perked and ready to go on an adventure.