Friday, August 05, 2005

We've mostly finished painting the apartment and we'll begin loading up our possessions this morning, so I'm still a couple of days from an earnest return to blogging. But I cannot let this moment pass without alerting my readers to something I have recently come to KNOW, bone-deep and with metaphysical certainty.
It has been revealed to me through directly-observed empirical evidence that my dog Scruffy is the dumbest dog I've ever owned.
Some background, so that you'll have some sense of the context out of which I'm making this judgment:
For the first 19 years of my life (1962-1981), I lived in the country to the west of Austin, Texas. We owned 10 acres; our property was bounded on three sides by my grandparents' 70 acres; their neighbors all owned 20-30 acres each, as did most of theirs; across the road was a 1000-acre ranch; etc. And let's just say that all this land was "unimproved": most of it consisted of Rocky Mountain juniper, which is a tree but which the ranchers usually regarded as a weed that birds happen to be able to nest in (it moved in as the land became overgrazed at the end of the 19th century). So. I grew up around wildlife: deer, possums, rattlesnakes and coral snakes, raccoons, foxes, and even an animal now no longer found in central Texas, coatimundi (see the picture). And skunks. Lots of skunks.
And it's here that we come to the heart of this post. In all my 19 years there, none of my dogs ever got sprayed by a skunk, though they had myriad opportunities for same.
Scruffy has managed to accomplish this twice in less than 24 hours. In a fenced-in yard. Well within the city limits of a fairly good sized metropolitan area. He has had two tomato-sauce baths, during the process looking more than a little like Sissy Spacek in Carrie (for the flames, substitute my white-hot wrath the SECOND time Mrs. Meridian and I had to do this for him).
Most dogs, I'm told, need only be sprayed once by a skunk. It just doesn't happen again, because the dog retains the vivid olfactory memory, more effective than even Proust's madeleine, of that episode. It is a distressing thing to admit, here slightly past the midpoint on my life's journey as I am, that I own a dog who has managed to do twice in less than a day what all my other dogs had known better than to do even once. But even though Scruffy has failed as a dog, there may yet be hope for him: someone once said of Proust that he was such a good writer because he had such a lousy memory.

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4 comments:

sutrix said...

Your pet has a striking resemblance to Pluto. He got skunked on quite a few occasions too, if I'm not mistaken. Although no dog could really be dumber than ol Disney's bumbling canine.

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sinequanon said...

What a hoot! Hey, I'm in Texas too. Dogs do the stupidest things sometimes...like coat their body in the stink of a dead animal, like a frog, which is just absolutely hideous odor. I've only had one dog get skunked and it was horrid (smell wise) and funny simultaneously. He cried out as if he had been physically hurt at the time and ran and hid. Then on car rides or in other walks we would come across the slightest scent, he would whimper and try to hide. Chicken-dog! But, actually I was grateful! Sounds like you had enough on your hands without THAT!

John B. said...

Thanks to Sutrix and Sinequanon for responding.
In response to Sutrix: I suspect that Pluto's dumbness was, um, studio-enhanced or something. But I have to say that Scruffy is the real deal.
Sinequanon: San Antonio, I think you're at, judging from what I've read in your blog. Thanks for continuing to visit. Scruffy has also rubbed himself in the stink of dead animals, but THAT sort of behavior is familiar to me and so didn't seem terribly blog-worthy at the time. I felt very sorry for Scruffy the first time it happened; but, as my father was fond of saying, the second time isn't a mistake.