February 27, 2024

It Takes a Village


Alright, I get it. You don’t like the idea that I put my dog in a mail box and shipped him of to live with a Caribbean witch doctor. No more letters. Please. However, for the sake of full disclosure, it wasn’t my idea.

For those of you, who missed last month’s article, let me fill you in. Back in February, I came home one dismal afternoon and found my 90 pound pooch, Jethro, squoze tightly into my mail box. After I had successfully extracted, I noticed he had postage stamps stuck to his forehead and the address of a Caribbean witch doctor tattooed to his shaved ass. The weather had been so foul—the snow so deep—and the general deposition of both man and beast so dismal, I sympathized.  I stuffed him back into the mail box and sent him parcel post to Aruba. I wrote about it. Shortly after that the nasty letters arrived.

I am rapidly pushing 60. For nearly every one of those years I have shared my life with a dog. I love dogs. My first dog, or so I am told, was a mutt named “Beater.” I have no idea where the name came from and no one in the family is fessing up. I have my own ideas, but this is neither the time nor place to share them. Beater, I am told was not a storybook pet. He had a propensity to leave the yard and wander about the neighborhood. Fortunately for me, and Beater I suppose, we lived on an island. From what I am told (I was still a one-year-old deaf mute), Beater spent most of his time cruising the neighborhood, failing to fulfill his responsibilities as a family dog. I am told that when my family drifted off to the mainland, Beater was nowhere to be found.

My next pooch was also an escape artist. We called him Pepsi. He got his name because he used to lap at the fizzing carbonation of our favorite soda. He was dumber than a sack of sticks and exhibited little chance of improvement. Shortly after I returned to the US, Pepsi had disappeared.

When I was 12 years old, we (my parents) took a third stab at animal husbandry. We got a German shepherd named Sam. He was a touch smarter than Pepsi. The only thing he had going for him was the fact he loved gophers. He would chase gophers around our yard day and night. Eventually, he realized that they ran down holes in the yard and that if he didn’t mind putting a little effort into it, there were dozens of gophers living not all that far below the surface of our yard.  “Not all that far” is a relative measurement. One day I came home and found the backyard pool had been dug up. When I say the backyard pool, I mean a built-in pool. He dug up the pool pump, pipes, hoses and the entire concrete shell. When I had left for work that day there were tens of thousands of gallons of water in a buried cement pond in our yard. When I got home it was all gone. So was Sam. I’m not sure where he went either. I had gone out that Saturday morning to sell doughnuts for the Boy Scouts. When I got home Sam was gone. The story I was told was that he had escaped the yard, hitched ride on the garbage truck and never came back.

Along with my first wife, I got a dog named Erica, a dog with a twitch. And then came Zena, a dog named after a brand of television. Sadly, Zena died. She was followed by Morgan, a lovable neurotic that followed my daughter home from school one day, which spent her spare time living in fear of the next noise. She ran off with a truck driver one Fourth of July and was never seen again.

Last year, Esmeralda, my wife, went to the local dog adoption festival and came home with a Doberman-German shepherd-hound dog-mailman loving canine named Jethro. He is really big, but really sweet. I don’t know if he made it to Aruba. He never wrote back. He was cold and I let him do his thing. Treat others as you would like to be treated. You know what I mean?

The point is, man and beast share this world in ways we don’t always understand. Sometimes they make the call. Sometimes we do. In Jethro’s case, he chose a warmer climate. I can’t say I blame him. I also can’t help but think that if all of you who sent me those inflammatory letters had written sooner, the mailbox would have been filled and he would have been forced to stay home. Sometimes it takes a village to raise a pooch. In Jethro’s case, it is just a lager village.

By the way, if you are ever in Aruba and find a large, sweet black and tan dog with a shaved spot on his butt and small brown spots above his eyes, ask him to drop me a line. I do miss him very much. No matter what you think.

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