Bad, Bad Thoughts

In the annals of family mistakes, this one proved to rank, in every sense of the word, among the top ten. Our little puppy grew up to deserve top billing on any Megan’s Law site.

I come from thoughtful people. Every option is carefully considered and the alternatives painstakingly weighed. Then, unfortunately, we inevitably make absurd decisions based upon nothing more than the instinct of lemmings and complete impatience with the process of actually thinking things through to some logical conclusion.

When my darling son moaned pitifully for a pet when he was about 8, there was every reason to wait since we had just moved from the city to the suburbs and we were like Moses in the Bible: a stranger in a strange land. We realized the importance of my son acclimating himself to a new school and new friends. We never had a pet before so we had to train ourselves before we could train an animal. We had no idea what breed would make a good family pet and what breed would rip out our throats and steal the silver. Then one day we simply went out and bought the first dog that jumped up in his cage and barked at us with such enthusiasm that you would think we were the coming of the Kibble god. We named the large Irish setter Eric the Red in honor of my wife's Nordic ancestors.

Having proven once again that we were impulsive oafs, I, and I alone, compounded our error by refusing to have him fixed. As I stood facing the kindly veterinarian, who had just explained exactly what fixing was, I knew, just as surely as I was clutching my balls, that it was WRONG to fix any male by removing the family jewels from the vault. I knew.

In the annals of family mistakes, this one proved to rank, in every sense of the word, among the top ten. Our little puppy grew up to deserve top billing on any Megan's Law site. Listing his known conquests would cause cardiac arrest in any would-be Doctor Ruth. But his greatest moment should be memorialized.

Our town consisted in the main of families whose children felt deprived because they were forced to accept their parents' two year old BMWs upon reaching driving age. The B's, the family in the house three doors down our street, was a distinct exception. In the first place, there were nine children; in the second place, some of the children would actually do chores for their family and others, including us, activities that the BMW driving set found repugnant.

One day, Mrs. B called to apologize. She said she knew that she should have had her little puppy spayed but she had been so busy. Would I be so kind as to come to her house for Eric? When I arrived I found that I should have been the one apologizing as our sixty-seven pound bundle of love had jumped their fence to assault the virtue of a seven pound terrier who could no longer wear white. On the long walk home, the wretch showed no signs of remorse: indeed, if a dog could be said to sashay, Eric the Killer shassshayed home with all the pride of the Don Juan of dogdom.

But this was just the prelude to his greatest moment. We had heard that Mrs. B had purchased a goat; in our neighborhood, such news traveled fast and furiously. The assertion that she made this purchase for her children who were allergic to cow's milk was treated with the contempt it deserved; let them drink a modest Burgundy, their neighbors declared. Nevertheless, zoning laws being what they were, the goat stayed.

Several months later, I received another call from Mrs. B, but this time the spirit of "hi neighbor" was decidedly lacking: just a terse and icy, "Come over here now. Your dog is on my goat."
I grabbed my son and we sprinted to Mrs. B's house while discussing the meaning of the term "your dog is On my goat." Bordering? Near? Adjacent to? Close to? Advancing? Leaning on?

We ran up to her front door but we heard such a loud noise in the rear that we ran to her back yard. What was it we wondered? Ble...AT, Ble....AT, BLE....AT!! BLE.....ATT!!

When we arrived we realized that "ON", in this case, meant "Situated Upon"; as we beheld the sight of our boy with his front paws firmly clasped around the chest of his new conquest while his back paws three inches off the ground as the tall, very tall, capricious Capra ran around in a circle giving him the ride of his life. Every time she leaped forward, his hindquarters flew back a few inches, every time she landed, he was thrust forward and she squealed and she leaped forward again.

Eric had a rather bemused expression: he knew that he was doing something extraordinary; he just was not sure what it was. We would have stood and watched this beastly bacchanalia for a while but Mrs. B and her goat had joined in a cry for freedom that rivaled the Israelites in Nabucco so we reluctantly parted them with a sea of water from the garden hose.

We muttered our apologies and slunk off dragging our ravishing reprobate. This time he did the stroll all the way home puffing on an imaginary cigarette while acknowledging his adoring audience with a careless wave of his right front paw.

For the rest of his life, we never wondered what he was dreaming of when he stirred in his sleep as all dogs occasionally do: we knew that the bastard was reliving his very own afternoon of a faun.


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