Di over at Pensitivity 101 provided the prompt for this edition of Just Jot It January. Her prompt is "dogs."
David Brenner once said that he liked dogs because "Anything they can do, you can watch."
I was working in the Liquor Department at Marshall Field’s one day, and David Brenner bought a bottle of Dom Perignon from me. He wasn’t anywhere near as funny as he was on TV, but I didn’t push it. I always felt that if I was waiting on a celebrity, they would probably prefer it if I didn’t say "HEY! You’re…"
Back to dogs. We’ve had cats the whole time we’ve been married (42 years on the 28th), but I like dogs, too. They’re a lot of work: you have to walk them a few times a day, regardless of how cold or awful the weather is, and at least here you need to have a fenced-in yard. Cats are easier.
I thought I had written the saga of Kuala, The Dog From Hell, and posted it here, but I hadn’t: it was in my Google Drive. So, for your reading enjoyment…
While I was in high school, my mother decided that she wanted to get a dog. She checked around, and learned of an organization called Save A Pet. They’re a rescue agency that takes dogs and cats that other people can no longer care for (or who no longer want to care for them) and finds homes for them.
As you can no doubt imagine, some of the rescued animals have significant psychological issues, and a person looking to adopt needs to be careful to choose a pet that gets along with everyone in the family and doesn’t go off in a psychotic rage when they see a stranger. My mother was either unaware of this, or didn’t really care, and when she heard that one of the local animal hospitals had two Lhasa Apsos that needed new homes, and they would separate them if need be, she immediately wanted to go see the dogs.
They walked the two dogs, one black and one white, into the reception area. I had never seen a Lhasa Apso, and all I could think was that they looked like dust mop heads on leashes. They were a mother and son: mother was Kiwi, the white one, and son was Kuala, the black one. My mother immediately fell in love with Kuala, who pranced around on his leash as she walked him. Kiwi, meanwhile, stood off to one side, coughing. Mom decided after three minutes that she wanted Kuala, and it didn’t bother her in the least that, when I tried to approach our new little friend, he growled and snapped at me. I put in a request that Mom at least give Kiwi another chance, because, well, I didn’t want to live with an animal that showed every indication of wanting to kill me. Mom, being the kind and gentle soul who cared for the well-being of all of her children, promptly ignored me, and Kuala came to live with us.
We learned a few things about Kuala in the first few weeks. First of all, Kuala had developed, in the short time that he had been part of our lives, an absolute hatred of me. I couldn’t go near him without him growling and snapping at me. “Why are you scared of him?” my mother would ask, as if being wary of a dog that showed every intention of biting my hand off when I went near him was my fault. Turns out, with the exception of Tex (ultimately Mom’s second husband), Jim and Kip, Kuala didn’t like men, period. I just happened to be the unlucky bastard that lived with him. Grandma had the theory that Kuala had been abused by one or more men. My theory was that he was raised to fight other dogs.
Kuala and I eventually came to a period of detente, where he didn’t try to kill me and I didn’t try to poison his Gaines Burgers. I knew that he accepted me finally when he would run into my room first thing in the morning, before I had even gotten up, and take a massive dump on the carpet.
In any event, it became clear that steps had to be taken to ensure that Mom’s little man didn’t try to kill anyone, family, friend or otherwise. Within a few weeks, Tex built a fence, consisting of three bungee cords stretched across the doorway between the family room and the living room with several feet of garden fence, high enough that the dog couldn’t jump over it, strung along the bungee cords. It worked pretty well, all things considered: if people came to visit, Kuala was ushered into the family room, and the door between it and the kitchen, when closed, would keep him there. He could still see what was going on, but couldn’t get at anyone.
Once, Mom released him from his exile on the back porch so that her future father-in-law, who was elderly, somewhat feeble, weighed ninety pounds and had no teeth, could see him. All was fine until Kuala tried to chew his arm off. He was once again exiled to the family room and was never brought out to meet visitors again.
Another problem we discovered was that Kuala’s digestive system wasn’t the best. He refused to eat dry dog food, so we tried feeding him canned food. Canned food gave him the runs, and as he was a long-haired dog, it would get stuck to his backside, and would irritate him so badly that we’d have to take him to the vet for a sanitary clip. It was a relatively simple process; the hard part was getting the dog to settle down enough that we could take him to the vet’s office so it could be done. It always seemed to happen when Mom and Tex were out of the house, and we would have to enlist a friend to help us take the dog to the vet. He could and would eat Gaines Burgers, though; they were moist but wouldn’t give him diarrhea, he liked them (frequently eating three or four a day), and all was well.
Soon after I graduated from high school, Mom and Tex were married, and after the wedding and the reception, a number of people came back to the house, including my uncle Jack (who should be familiar to everyone who reads this blog) and Ralph, husband of my mother’s best and dearest friend. Jack and Ralph decided that this would be the perfect time to conduct an exorcism on the dog. They stood at the fence and shouted the words of exorcism at him, which clearly stirred up whatever demon or demons possessed him, and the dog went berserk, nearly jumping over the fence.
Not long after they were married, Mom discovered that she was expecting my brother Patrick. She realized that Kuala would have to find a new home, something I could have told her two years earlier. For some reason, they decided to wait until Mom had the baby to return Kuala to the Save A Pet folks. Tex ended up having to take Kuala himself. He never forgave us for that.
This was written for Just Jot It January, which Linda Hill can tell you all about if you’ll just visit her blog. Now a word about Jeno’s Pizza Rolls!
The commercial was one of several created by the legendary adman Stan Freberg. For those who weren’t around in the ’60’s, when cigarettes were freely advertised on TV, Lark cigarettes also used "The William Tell Overture" in their commercials that challenged people to "show us your Lark!" And of course the Lone Ranger and Tonto were played by Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels.