Thursday, August 30, 2007

A German Shepherd Would Never Do That

All this talk about Michael Vick and the ugly things he used to do to dogs has worn me out. I hate thinking about it, and while I'm glad he's going to jail and getting punished for his misdeeds, I'm not one of those people who loses perspective. There are a *lot* worse people in the world, and I hope they get what's coming to them, too.

But as somebody who's had dogs as pets, I believe there is a special corner of hell for people like him.

So to take our minds off of the ugly dog stories, I figured I should share a good one with my readers. I hope you enjoy it.

Back when I was a kid living in the woods of Tennessee, we had the best dog ever. He was a huge, beautiful German Shepherd. Smartest and toughest dog in the county, but he had an appetite for expensive tires. Only when they were attached to cars though.

Anyhow, his name was Rebel and as kids we were very attached to him. He disappeared one day, rumor had it that one of our hillbilly neighbors had shot him for some perceived slight. We went without a dog for awhile, until we got another huge German Shepherd to replace him. This one's name was Baron, and he was pure white, although not albino. And instead of tires, this dog killed and ate cats every chance he got.

I tell you this because we had those dogs in my formative years, and to this day, I'm partial to German Shepherds and have the opinion that all other breeds are inferior. None are as handsome, and very few are as smart or loyal.

But for some only-god-knows-why reason, my sister Cyndi and her husband decided at one point several years ago to get Dalmatians.

Good lord.

Now, I don't want to piss off the Dalmatian lovers out there, but seriously, if there was ever a breed designed to ride the short bus, it's the Dalmatian. I know they are sleek, and handsome, and have a beautiful unique coat. But they ain't got the sense god gave a coconut. I have no idea how you'd go about training a Dalmatian to do anything but poop outside--they are just too playful and excitable. All they seem to want to do is jump, run, bark, and roll around.

Anyhow, back in the summer of 1988, I was coming home from my first year in college. My sister Cyndi offered to let me come to Nashville and live with her and her husband and work there in Tennessee for the summer. They had a spare room and a spare car, and it seemed like a good idea for me, so I road-tripped from Idaho to Nashville once the spring semester ended.

I got a job selling shoes at Dillard's, and settled down for life in Nashville for a few months before heading back to school that fall.

Anyhow, Cyndi and her then-husband Doug had a Dalmatian named Pepper as a family pet for my nieces, then aged six and three. Pepper was a good dog, but about as rambunctious as a dog could be. He didn't do well on a leash. And he certainly didn't listen to commands. But he didn't tear shiat up, either.

The problem was, they lived on the busy main road coming into their subdivision, and none of the yards had fences. So as soon as the door would open, the dog would take off at full speed, running around like a spaz, and no amount of yelling or calling would get him to come back for a good ten minutes. It's like he needed his free time, and wouldn't be restrained. This happened pretty much every day, and everyone got used to it, thinking that eventually that dumb dog would get himself run over.

The neighborhood was full of young families with kids, lots of toys in the yards and Big Wheels in the driveways, stuff like that. And every day there were always lots of people out and about walking their well-behaved dogs, pushing strollers, and just enjoying the cool early evening after the hot summer afternoons. And while everyone on the street knew who Pepper was, nobody could ever catch him--he was just too fast. But he'd always come back, worn out, and lay down on the porch when he was done spazzing out every evening.

Eventually, we got tired of trying to walk him on a leash like a civilized dog, and just let him do his thing. It seemed to work.

Well, one day I was out in the driveway washing the car, Doug was watering the lawn, and the girls were bouncing on the trampoline. As usual, there were lots of people out and about, kids playing in front yards, neighbors on the front porch, dads working on cars in the driveways.

My grandmother was alive at the time, and she stopped by for a visit. Grandma was a big woman, yet she always had muscle cars--Mustangs in the early 70's, a big Starsky & Hutch car after that, and that summer she was driving around in a blue Firebird. Besides being a big woman, Grandma, I'm sad to say, was pretty much a slob. Her house was always a mess, her garage was always full of junk, and her car was always full of trash. That's just the way she was.

Anyhow, after visiting with Cyndi, she opened the door to leave, and of course Pepper saw his opportunity to make a break for it and squirted out the door, free at last! Doug yelled for him to come back, but of course the dog ignored him and started doing laps around the neighbor's yards.

Well, Grandma's car was parked next to the garbage cans, about three-quarters the way up the driveway, so she decided to do a little car cleaning and throw away most of the trash and fast food wrappers that she could reach while still sitting in the drivers seat. Unfortunately, trash was not all that was sitting on the floor of Grandma's car.

While scooping up the trash and trying to toss it into the garbage can, she'd managed to pick up an item of a personal nature without realizing it. And she couldn't quite reach the garbage can, so most of the trash just landed on the driveway. Oblivious, she backed out and left.

Doug and I both saw the trash and went to pick it up before the dog got to it. We were still about ten feet away when Pepper got there first. But fast food wrappers and paper bags didn't interest him. The driveway was slightly sloped, as most driveways are, and the dog was attracted to the object that had started rolling down the driveway towards the street.

Yep, Grandma had inadvertently tossed her big pink dildo/vibrator onto our driveway. Why she was carrying it around in her car remains a mystery to this day, but once that thing started rolling down the hill, it proved to be irresistible to the dog. So he loped over and snatched it up like a stick. Doug and I both looked at each other with a Is that what I think it is? expression on our faces, and Cyndi, standing on the porch watching this was absolutely mortified once she realized all the neighbors were watching.

I started laughing my ass off, and it only got worse when Doug took off chasing the dog who he had absolutely no shot of catching. Seriously, watching your brother-in-law chase a Dalmatian around that's got a dildo in it's mouth has got to be the absolute pinnacle of unintentional comedy. He was yelling and swearing at the dog, and the dog just thought it was the most fun he'd had all week, sprinting around carrying a sex toy while all the neighbors thought it belonged to my sister. Of course, I was doubled over in laughter, tears in my eyes, yelling "Go Pepper, go!!!" trying not to piss my pants, while my brother-in-law couldn't decide whether to be mad, embarrassed, or also highly amused at the ridiculousness of the situation. Cyndi, several shades of red darker, went inside and closed the blinds.

The absolute highlight came, of course, when one of the neighbor kids was heard to ask "Mommy--what's he got in his mouth?".

The dog finally wore himself out after about ten minutes of the funniest chase scene I'd ever witnessed (all that was missing was the Benny Hill music), and dropped the drool-covered vibrator next to the porch. By that time, nobody wanted to go pick it up and throw it in the garbage can. The neighbors were still out there, laughing just as hard as I was.

I swear I laughed for hours after that. I still do, whenever I think about it.

And nobody ever spoke of it again for the rest of the summer, either, although devilish kids that we are, we were tempted to buy Grandma a new vibrator for Christmas.

She got a puppy, instead.


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