Friday, September 09, 2005

Meet the Scruff-ster

It's Friday, and so I finally have a moment for a bit of blogging. You lucky people.

Long-time readers have known about my dog Scruffy, my usually-amiable companion on walks by the creek we used to live near and, now, the river we live next to. Some of you may also remember that Scruffy has occasionally figured prominently in these posts as an object of parody and derision. But I've neglected to give you good people a more directed gaze and, thus, a more detailed sense of this beast. I've neglected to do so, and have indeed obfuscated somewhat the more disturbing elements of his nature, out of respect to my readers' sensibilities. But, after a year and a half, I feel y'all and I have enough of a rapport that I can risk a more honest presentation. You may wish to avert your own gaze as we examine the truly awe-ful phenomenon that is Scruffy.

For Scruffy simply IS. What else to call him? He is a force of nature, a tautology, the Alpha and Omega of familia Canidae, both the set-up and the punchline. Upon seeing him, the simple that we have met on our walks along the river have said, "Oh, how cute!" They have no idea of their ignorance of the menace that pads in their direcetion, that hopes to catch their scent as he thrusts his snout into the air. I feel sad and afraid for them: they are moral relativists, all sensing of Evil so dormant within them that it cannot be roused from its slumber when in the presence of its very incarnation. One man, on seeing him, asked a question that revealed, as did the grandmother in O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," that he recognized he was in the presence of something he'd been warned existed but couldn't QUITE recognize: "Is that a wolfhound??" Oh, good sir, would that he were; then the beast would have a name and thus, having been named, we'd have far less to fear. And, as we recall the fate of O'Connor's grandmother, be thankful you hadn't recognized him.

But then there are those among us with special gifts of discernment: Two people, in the month that we've lived here, immediately have exclaimed, "Oh, a Scruffy dog!" upon seeing him. And then, when we confirm that that is indeed his name, they both caused their paths to describe an arc around us that is immediately recognizable as the archetypal Wide Berth as he would whine and lunge, in what he'd have us think is a Friendly Gesture, in their direction.

The more perverse among you, the Weekly World News readers among you (which, I am sad to admit, is a considerable minority of my readership), I hear you clamoring for an actual physical description or, better, a photograph. Well, okay: but I've chosen to link to it only so as to protect the sensibilities of the more delicate among you. Here! Look, if you must; tremble, as you surely shall. (Hat tip: Mrs. Meridian's blog, The Smartest Monkey).

If you were perverse or brave enough to have clicked, you would have immediately noted the odd, rather aerial perspective of the photograph. I rather suspect, knowing what I know now, that the photographer (some brave employee of the Emporia, Kansas, Animal Shelter, who I hope is still alive and finding his therapist and priest to be comforting and soul-restoring to him) was probably clinging to the ceiling of Scruffy's pen when he took it. His desire was self-preservation, not deception. But Evil has its ways of working through even the most innocent of intentions: Mrs. Meridian and I, as we gazed on this creature, guessed that Scruffy was low to the ground--about the altitude of a West Highlander Terrier (which happens to be the breed of Mrs. M.'s parents' dog). We were enchanted, seduced; like Milton's Adam and Eve (well, or Genesis' either, for that matter), we did not know to know no more. We drove to Emporia. And the creature that came galumphing toward us in the shelter's play area looked like it was part giraffe in comparison to its pic . . . and part many other things as well. The attendant (this part I'm NOT exaggerating, by the way) told us that many people had come to look at him before, always just when his time to be put to sleep was about to come; for one reason or another, though, they'd found some reason not to adopt him. Likely as not, now that I know what I know, they were all institutionalized or otherwise became mentally incapacitated shortly afterward. Evil is not only hard to kill; it will, of course, do whatever it can to perpetuate its existence. But we did not know then what we know now. And, to paraphrase old Hamlet's ghost, lewdness courted us in a shape of cuteness.

As I said above, to the simple, Scruffy IS "cute." But he's not "cool," in any sense of the term. His manner is not "cool"--that is, grave or dignified. If it weren't for the fact that he has excellent bladder control, I'd have to wear overshoes whenever I walk him for fear that he'd just completely void his bladder when he sees a squirrel or other dogs or people on bicycles or skateboards or ducks or geese or that pigeon that always seems to be perched on the bridge when we cross it or . . . He doesn't look "cool," either--which, of course, reflects poorly on me as I walk him. My Coolness Quotient is not what it should be as it is. The fact of his evil nature would be mitigated (as, I reflect, so many Evil Things are for people) if he were Cool. But he's not, so it is not.

So why do we keep him? Two reasons: 1) We know him for what he is and are now spiritually armored to protect ourselves from the corruption of our souls. And it is because of (1) that, 2) We are thus keeping others safe from him. I also think that, little by precious little, something called Good is making inroads into his nature. That must be the case, for even we Meridians, who after all know him for what he is and are always aware of his power to manipulate, find ourselves saying, on occasion, "Good dog!" and actually MEANING it.

So, perhaps, the transformation will come, but it may take time. A long time: "A thousand ages in thy sight/Are like an evening gone."

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll have you know that The Scruffter (no extra "s") was a very good boy this weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's. In that sense, he put his cousin dogs to shame. And also in the vein, he gave us pride in calling ourselves his owners because he was such a good boy. I'm glad Scruffy can't read.
--Mrs. Meridian