Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What Fresh Hell Is This?* (Issue #140)

As many of you know, I’ve been done with pets for quite a while. A few years ago, the house was home to Hobbes the cat, Gryphon the hunka-hunka-burnin’-love Rottweiler, Lucy the parrot and Stumpy the toad. Hobbes, Gryph and Stumpy are gone now. Longtime readers are familiar with their stories. (I still get people razzing me about keeping a dead cat in my freezer for a year or so. Can you imagine?)

Anyway, Lucy, the African Grey parrot, has been the sole non-human in the house for a couple of years now and that suited me just fine. We get along. If she hollers a lot it’s because she either wants a peanut or a rub. All women should be so easy to please.

I was resigned to life with Lucy, since she’s expected to live for another 60 years or so even though I might not. But I really didn’t want another animal in the house. The lads would occasionally pester me about getting a four-legged one but my standard answer was, "Okay, you can have a cat/dog -- the day you move out."

About six months ago, I began the procedure of occasionally entertaining the idea of possibly getting another cat. Which meant mulling the concept for a few seconds every month or so, then shaking my head.

It’s a process! I was working up to it. Cats aren’t as needy as dogs. They eat less and most of them don’t take up as much freezer space when they’re expired.

I definitely didn’t want a dog. Big dogs, the kind I prefer, tend to live just long enough to own your heart, then they die. I’ve never been a fan of small dogs, referring to them often as "muskie bait." (If you’re unfamiliar with a muskie, you can see what they look like by clicking here.) Truth to tell, I’m still mourning Gryph after all these years. When you’ve had The Perfect Dog, it’s tough to make room in your life and heart for another one.

So imagine my horror when I came home a few weeks ago to find a tiny, four-legged, rodent-sized animal that was not a cat running around the house. This runt wasn’t worthy of being muskie bait. A couple of guppies could take it down.

Don’t ask me how it got here. I won’t tell you. Suffice it to say, the beast is here and I have to make the best of the situation.

The way I’ve been making the best of the situation is to avoid having anything to do with it unless cornered.

The problem with that philosophy is the little beggar is quick. And being so low to the ground, he’s hard to spot when zipping around between stacks of newspapers, magazines, books, fishing equipment and things I keep meaning to put somewhere else someday.

One minute I’m quietly reading the sports section and the next, I’m trying to shake off a furry, growling gnat whose jaws are clamped on my pants cuff.

I’m not exaggerating the "quick" thing. I swear this animal has learned to teleport.

I barbecue a lot. Once the weather gets nice in April or May, it’s not uncommon for me to barbecue five or six days a week for several months. We all know how good barbecued anything smells. Apparently furry gnats can also appreciate those aromas. Because whenever I go out the back door to the deck where the barbecue is, no matter how alone I am at the time, no matter how quickly I slam the door behind me, when I step on the deck, the gnat has beat me to it. He’s cocking his microscopic head to the side and giving me that let’s-be-best-friends-forever grin.

Well, I’m not falling for it. Nuh-uh. Sure, every once in a while a small piece of burger, or maybe cheese, will tumble from a plate while I’m transferring food. I may accidentally misplace a rib or pork chop bone when I’m done with it but no way am I going to encourage that beast to keep me company while I’m going about the serious business of cooking.

Apparently, like all puppies and kittens, he paid attention while at Cute School. You know that thing that puppies do, when they crouch down with their front ends low and their rear ends high, tail wagging? And they kinda prance while growling, like they’re double-dog-daring you to approach them? And then you feint a charge and he spins around, grinning and barking happily?

Well, I’m not falling for it.

I’m going to continue to keep a wary distance, both physically and emotionally. Except perhaps, for the occasional photo.

His name is Benny and he’s a Jack Russell terrier.

And he eats faces.

And he eats pants. Son #1 is justifiably horrified.

Here, he imitates an apostrophe on a string.

* God bless Dorothy Parker, from whom I stole my subject line.


Cath Smith said...

Well, if you have to have a small dog, a Jack Russell's about the best you can get!

You just know he's going to grow on you. :)

Lori said...

Frank, when you started this week's column, I thought you had ended up with a chihuahua. If you had, I was going to have to tease you mercilessly. Over a Jack Russell terrier, I'll just smile knowingly as I virtually watch your heart strings being tugged.

Dawno said...

It's a Frazier dog! If I were to get a dog, that's the one I'd have.

Everyone say "awwww" - it's adorable.

Crabby McSlacker said...

I'm so glad it's you and not me.

I wouldn't be able to resist (who could? That dog is scary-cute) but unlike a low maintenance cat, a dog requires chores. Hate them chores.

But I suspect you'll be awful happy with this hellion. (And good choice re: freezer space too--you'll still have plenty of room for ice cream down the line.)

Frank Baron said...

Thanks for trying to cheer me up Cath....

Ditto Lori (whom I THOUGHT was my friend).

Re-ditto to you too Dawno.

Crabby, of course! I knew there was a silver lining somewhere! Thanks muchly!


Hildegarde said...

Well, well, and it just happened to be in your garden, and you don't know how it got there, well, well, LOL

Elizabeth Guy said...

Awwww. I love puppies. They're so fun and sweet and cuddly. I wonder how long it will be before little Benny is sleeping on your pillow?

Oh, and super cool subject line. Made me laugh even before I started to read.

Frank Baron said...

Hildegarde, that's one theory.... ;)

The answer Elizabeth, is never! However, on my chair is a possibility.... ;)

Sandy said...

Well wel well Eras
knowing you as well as I do from your columns and from Trivia, I an not at all surprised Benny has managed to get under that hide of yours.
I can only wait until Benny starts showing his talents in climbing fences AND excavacation of the back garden.
As usual Eras I love ya work

Anne C. Watkins said...

Oh, he's adorable!! (The pup's cute, too...heh heh.)

Aren't puppy teeth the WORST??

Have fun with him. I know you will. :)

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Sandy. :) (By the way, I couldn't open that last thing you sent. My computer doesn't do powerpoint stuff apparently.)

You're right Anne. They're like needles. And I might possibly one day maybe don't-bet-on-it will have a bit of fun with him. ;)

Unique Material said...

Ha Ha. Frank's met his match.

Sleep with one eye open. He eats faces.

Frank Baron said...

Unique, he sleeps in his crate a floor removed from my bedroom. But to be on the safe side, I keep my door closed. ;)

Williebee said...

When the post turned to discussions of the barbecue, I just naturally thought that was where the dog would end up....

Even then I was going to put five on the puppy.

Welcome back to the land of domestic animal slaves.

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Dawn said...

A man has to have a dog, Frank, and a Jack Russell is all dog. Hope you have many happy years with him.

Aidan said...

Cute dog, i used to have a jack russell i swear it was the stupidest thing on 4 legs it knocked itseld uncousious once chasing birds behind a locked screen door... HAving said that i still miss Titch, as dopey as it was it was loyal and a great dog:)

Definately dont fall for the cuteness reutine, if you do the rest of your life you will be feeding it.

If only it was that easy to get fed as a guy, i tried looking cute when stace was eating a box of sultanas, she patted me and ate the box:(

jessie said...

I had a friend who lived in Boston next to a school for the blind. Her Jack Russell Terrier used to bark at the blind people walking by all the time and almost gave several of them heart attacks when they weren't expecting him to go crazy on them.

She ended up giving him away to avoid a lawsuit, I think.


Frank Baron said...

Thanks Willie. I think. ;)

Thanks Dawn. :)

Aidan, someone needs to open a business called "Rent-A-Pup." Guys could rent one for a couple of hours, go to a girl-plentiful park and just hope some of the excess attention washes over them.

Oh boy Jessie. Thanks LOTS. ;)

Travis Erwin said...

I too have always been fond of big dogs. Preferably big dogs who can run out in the tall gras and fetch back a bird, but Jack Russles are about the best of the baitdogs.

Down here in Texas we are shy on Muskies so I refer to them as trotline bait.

Frank Baron said...

Yeah Travis, a decent sized cat(fish) could inhale that little guy.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Frank! Cute pup! I got a Pomeranian thrust on me about a year ago (black one, but very yappy) after I'd said for years "no more dogs"! He hardly qualifies anyhow, weighing all of 3 and a half pounds or something. My sympathies are with ya! You just can't help but love them once you've got 'em.


Kappa no He said...

You are so in love, he he he. A dog is a dog is a dog...they're all great.

Oh by the way, my dog's best friend is a Jack Russel. He (the Jack Russel, named Turbo) wears the fanciest little orange rain coat with hat when it rains. So damned cute. I could send you one.

Frank Baron said...

Kappa, I am NOT in love with that dog!

We're just friends....

Frank Baron said...

Chris, I think you might be right.

Dagnab it.... ;)

Spidey said...

I have a JRT. They are the smartest dogs on earth, and they have the most personality. You lucked out.

If you check my blog I posted a photo of my JRT a while back. A really sweet dog, very easy to train. I have three dogs, and the JRT is at least three times smarter than the other dogs. If my JRT could talk, I would enroll her in college.

Kappa no He said...

I repeat, He he he~...


Frank Baron said...

Spidey, that's both encouraging and kinda scary.

Terrie, you'll know I succumbed if I ask you about those little rain coats. ;)

Lori said...

I was at the bookstore today, Frank, and happened past a display of books about raising different breeds of dogs. One was on Jack Russell terriers. I thought of you and your "predicament."

Frank Baron said...

Yeah, got one of those around here too Lor. I'm refusing to read it so far though. Relying on my copious amount of common sense to get me through. :)

Anybody seen my glass--oh wait, got them on. Nevermind.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Aw, There's nothing like seeing a man's face chewed apart by his dog. I see from the scraps that mysteriously disappear while you're cooking that he's already grown on you. :)

Joanne D. Kiggins said...
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