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A last resort


Lance K. Pugh

It is said that when writers get down to spiders and dust, they back into some safe corner and write about their favorite pet. Personally, I find such a lack of creativity an insult and these articles are for the bottom of the birdcage, where they get all the adoration that they deserve.

There are none amongst you capable of forcing me to pen such maudlin sludge, thought many have repeatedly tried, coaxing me with complements of my faithful dog, Spooky, who seems to prod people into feverish attempts to persuade, entreat, cajole, sweet-talk, wheedle and otherwise inveigle me to wax poetic about perhaps the most intelligent dog every to have lifted his leg.

When Spooky was a puppy we read that we were supposed to initially raise him in a crate in an effort to teach him civility and common decency. One evening, when he was too young to yodel (he howls just fine now); we went out to dinner and left him alone for the first time. We placed him in a metal, escape-proof crate, weighted the top and had a fine meal. When we came home we were extra quiet as we did not want to rattle his cage.

As I gently opened the front door Spooky jumped into my arms and slathered me stem to stern with an abundant wet tongue. We went back to the crate area and beheld it just as before…firmly set and weighted abundantly. From that time forward we added Houdini as his middle name, as there seemed no explanation to his great, crate, escape.

Unfortunately, this was not a unique set of circumstances.

On three separate occasions we lodged Spooky at a nearby kennel, euphemistically referring to his stay as vacation at a resort. Apparently his assessment of the digs fell under a different heading. Upon arriving each time to pick him up a world of riot unfurled, all in much the same manner.

We entered the office and began the paperwork to retrieve our retriever. Once a check was produced and a waiver signed, a member of the office staff would stride to the canine condo to lasso our lab/spaniel bundle of smiles. Moments later there would be shouting and snorts, then Spooky would enter the office sans escort. He would jump to face level and kiss me while a once professionally dressed, but now essentially shredded staff, puffed inside, clearly concerned that their charge had hot footed it back to the office after breaking free from the stalag. It was clear that the darling dog was no longer in confinement, nor was he appreciated for his valiant escape. Had the boarding fee included new clothing, first-aid and a make-over, we could not have afforded bankrolling his getaway.

I have now documented the devices of a devious and determined dog which, as always, begs for context as allowed by our annual block party, as permitted by a recently installed city block party fee. There seems to be no end to the kindness of municipal life, as long as we first pay for salaries, benefits, expenses, transportation and retirement of layers of staff, then additionally pay when anything is actually done. Though our once named Planning Department implored residents to gather round, rejoice and celebrate in our neighborhoods, a fee is now required, though for 15 years such gatherings were encouraged at no charge. We now pay for an activity that adorns the resumes of our planning staff, some of which have gone off to other cities while extolling Ashland’s advances in community cohesiveness and public support.

Back to Spooky who lurked, loitered, lollygagged and lounged about our block party, only to ambush, waylay and bushwhack any errant plate of food, take it into the side yard and wolf it down. It was probably my fault, as I had repeatedly told my wet-nosed canine compadre that the whole event was in honor of him.

In any event, I beseech you not to attempt to persuade me to write about pets gone bad or good dogs rewarded, for, as you know full well, this I will never do.

(Lance@journalist.com was last seen sewing up well-chewed squeaky-toys while busy writing apologies to those whose dinners bit the block party dust at the behest of an escape artist.)

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