Tag Archives: Rescue Dogs

Talk of the Town

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“Talk about life, talk about death, talk about catching every breath, talk about when, and talk about why, talk about do, and talk about don’t.”  Don Williams

Does everybody talk to me when they’re in the chair in front of me at Kameryn Rose? Does everybody talk into the mirror on the wall that is in front of us?

Yes, they do, unless they’re the silent type. They’re not allowed to turn their heads, because I’ve got sharp scissors in my hand, which is why both of us talk into the mirror, unless they just don’t want to talk.

What do they talk about?

It depends on what day they’re having. Sometimes people tell me about what book they’re reading, about a restaurant they were at, about something that happened at work. It could be about the hot topic of the day. It could be about the Cleveland Browns.

“Did you hear about who just got traded to the Browns?”

“It’s off to the playoffs we go!”

When I was cutting the hair of two girls, whose mother belongs to the same Bay Village church as I do, they wanted to know all about the St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown. Brian and I always go because our wedding anniversary is on St. Patrick’s Day.

“Is it crazy?” one of the girls asked.

“No,” I said. “There’s definitely a drinking party side to it, but there’s a kid friendly side to it, too.”

She had straight hair, but said she wished she had curly hair. I told her, as soon as you have curly hair, you’ll want it to be straight again. That’s how women are. But I took off four inches and curled it, anyway.

A lot of women read books, and we talk about them. I don’t read many books because I almost always hate the endings. I hated “Girl on the Train.” It was great until the ending, but the bad guy, the guy who caused all the trouble, should have gotten his ass kicked a lot more than he did. He was awful. He got off too easy. I would have tortured him for a while. When he got stabbed in the face and died fast, that was getting off easy.

I watch murder shows all the time, especially “Dateline on ID.” It always starts with a murder and the rest of it is how they catch the person. There are the background stories, interviews with everybody, the people who were involved, the killer and the victims, at least the victim’s family.

They call us ID Addicts, because we sit at home and watch murder mysteries on TV 24/7.

“Have you figured out how to get away with it, yet?” Brian asked me one day.

“I’m getting there,” I said.

Most murders are made up of the oldest reason in the book. It was a love triangle. Someone is trying to get rid of their husband or wife because they have a new boyfriend or girlfriend. They want the life insurance money, too, so they can live on that with their new lover.

There was a guy in Colorado, married, with two kids, living in a big house, who killed her and his kids. She was a social media darling, people followed her on Instagram and Facebook. She filmed her own life and posted it.

He was a chunky guy, but all of a sudden, he started working out, started jogging, and lost a ton of weight.

“That’s trouble,” I thought.

Sure as shit, he was having an affair.

One of the last things his wife posted on Facebook was her breaking the news that she was pregnant again. His reaction wasn’t the greatest. He strangled all three of them. He claimed someone else did it, but the police said, we know you did it. Then he said he killed his wife because she had killed the children Everyone knew that was a lie. He finally fessed up and pled guilty and they put him away for three life terms and no chance of parole ever.

Or it’s revenge, or it’s money, or they’re crazier than even that.

There are some people who kill because they are rapists and don’t want you to be able to identify them afterwards. There were some kids who killed a babysitter because they wanted to see what it was like to kill somebody. They knew she would be all alone, and they got her out of convenience. Some people kill to see what it’s like to take a life. It’s fucked up, but that’s what they do.

Murder never takes a vacation

We talk about vacations in the chair, places to go, where they’re going, where I’m going, what they did when they were there, what I did when I was somewhere, like Mexico.

“Melanie tells me about her family,” said Meg, looking up from a magazine, her hair in rollers, sitting in a chair next to my chair.

Either we’re telling them about our families or they’re telling us about their families.

“She told me about her husband’s arm surgery,” said Meg. “We talk about our sons and their girlfriends, the ones we don’t like.”

“You hear it all,” said Francie, working at her chair two chairs up from mine.

“We were just talking about the cheating scandal,” said Meg.

“Exactly,” said Francie.

“The college thing,” said Meg.

“Isn’t that disgusting?” I said.

“It’s horrible.”

“I’m sorry, but they all deserve to go to jail,” I said.

We talk about what’s going on in the world right now. We talk about who we dislike in our families, the family dysfunctions, all of that. We talk about recipes, what people are having for holiday dinners, who’s hosting.

“Who never hosts,” said Meg.

“That comes back to the family dysfunctions.” I said.

I have people who have literally sobbed in my chair. Someone is on drugs, or gotten sick, or gotten cancer, or died. You hear it from the happy to the terrible. One of my clients told me that a friend of ours from high school had committed suicide. It was sad. I wasn’t able to go to his wake because I had to work. I couldn’t get off. It was the same day Luke Perry died.

“52, that’s young,” said Meg.

“He was good,” I said. “He wasn’t all Hollywood. The good die young.”

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

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Gone Kirby Gone

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“Does not the gratitude of the dog put to shame any man who is ungrateful to his benefactors?”  Saint Basil

When Kirby left, moving down the street into Greg’s house, after a year of living in our basement, after a year of getting him back on his feet, after a year of spending ten thousand dollars on the kid, he said he hated us, we were horrible people, and we had just been using him. When he left, he took his bulldog Louie with him. When he left, he left a godawful mess in our basement, too. He didn’t bother cleaning up after himself.

Greg is a friend of Brian’s, from way back when, just like Kirby. At least, they were friends of Brian’s. Greg’s is where Kirby went to smoke pot, while he was living with us.

Greg is half Greek and half American Indian. He was married for 5 minutes, but that’s over. He’s the kind of man who is always yelling. He will come to my house and start yelling.

So, I yell back, “You’re yelling at me in my own home? Why are you over here? Why do we have anything to do with you?”

“Make me stay cool,” he says.

He is re-doing his two-family house, where he lives upstairs, and he decided free labor would be better than paid labor. The free labor is Kirby. He started in on Kirby’s ear, telling him we were horrible people, and that he should move into Greg’s first floor suite. He could have the whole first floor in return for working on the house.

What an idiot! Kirby is not supposed to even be working. That’s why he’s on disability.

When we first took Kirby in, he slept all the time for a couple of months. Now he sleeps all the time because he’s exhausted.

“You’re going to kill him,” I said.

“What business is it of yours?” yelled Greg.

“You talked him out of living with us, where he was being well taken care of, where he was getting everything he needed.”

“I don’t understand,” said Greg.

“Let me tell you why I’m mad,” I said. “For such a good friend of Kirt’s, like you say you are, what you’re doing means he’s going to lose his disability, maybe lose his health insurance, lose his monthly payments, lose everything, because you don’t really care.”

Once Kirby had gotten his big back payment disability check, we were going to pay back our expenses for the past year, put in a new floor and kitchen appliances in his basement suite, and carpet our living room, so he wouldn’t have to hear us walking around upstairs. But Greg got into his ear, telling Kirby we just wanted to take all his money.

Kirby started to believe him.

We had been getting monthly checks for a few months and there were a few thousand dollars piling up. I sat Kirby down and told him we needed to open a bank account for him. He jumped up and started swearing up a storm.

I have told Greg that Social Security has been calling, they haven’t heard from Kirby, they want to know where he is, he needs to go and check in.

“I don’t care,” said Greg.

“What do you mean you don’t care?”

“I’m not doing that shit,” he said.

“I hope you’re happy with the decision you’ve made,” I said to Greg. “You’ve taken him away from people who actually cared about him, who weren’t going to work him to death.”

“This is my fault?” he asked loudly.

“Whose fault would you like it to be?” I asked. “Would you like to blame someone else? You just tell me, and we’ll go talk to that person.”

“I don’t want to fight with you,” he said.

“I don’t want to fight with you, either. Nothing more to say.”

I’m nervous for Kirby. He’s only got a few months to make it back to the Social Security office. You have to check in, you have to show receipts for rent, you have to prove you are alive. I feel bad that he’s too stupid to know better.

Thanks to Greg, he’s completely screwed Kirt over. All the rights we fought to get him, all the lawyers we talked to, all the offices and courtrooms we took him to, but Greg won’t do anything for him

Even the lawyer went to see Kirby, told him he needs to pay us back, but Kirby said no.

“They’ve taken everything from me,” he said.

He’s about to lose everything and all we can do is stand by and watch.

I don’t think Kirby’s in his right frame of mind. He’s gone off the rails and he’s getting sick living at Greg’s. He’s back to doing nothing else except lying in bed. I don’t think he’s doing much work there.

Brian went to Greg’s to talk to Kirby, to try to get him to go to the government offices, and get his food stamps card.

Kirby just screamed and went the other way.

I asked Brian about Kirby coming back.

“He can’t,” he said. “He had his opportunity. He’s not welcome back.”

“What if you see him on the street?”

“I’ll give him some money if he asks. But he’s not coming back here.”

“He’s going to lose everything,” I said.

“I can’t squeeze water from a stone. I can’t make Kirt do what he doesn’t want to do.”

He decided he was going to go see the lawyer we had gotten for Kirby and take our names off everything. We won’t be able to help him legally anymore. Brian doesn’t want the responsibility anymore.

He hurt Brian bad because Brian always considered him like another brother. In the meantime, Greg called to make an appointment for a haircut.

“No, you piece of shit,” I said.

“Aw, pookie,” he said, because we always called each other pookie. “I don’t know why you’re mad.”

“Pookie’s dead,” I said. “Lose my phone number.”

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

Too Many Hairdressers

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“Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you? But when you take him in a car, he sticks his head out the window.”  Steve Bluestone

Anybody who says, you’re going to be my eighth hairdresser, you know they are very hard to please, and probably nuts, besides.

Not too many guys come in for a consultation before their first haircut. Basically, no guys do that. But many women do. They come in before their first color and cut. It’s not a bad thing, either. They come in, spend some time with me, show me what they want, what they like and what they don’t like. It puts us on the same page.

The woman with screwed up colors and too many hairdressers freaked me out from the get-go. She went to Bay High School, like me, but was three grades younger than me. Someone mentioned me to her, that I worked at Kameryn Rose, and the next thing I knew she was scheduling a consultation with me.

Brian walked into the salon the afternoon she came in. She was waiting in the lobby. Brian saw her, recognized her, stepped over to my chair, and in a quiet singsong voice said, “Crazy, you know, crazy.”

He need not have bothered. I could already tell she was neurotic.

When she sat down in my chair, she got even crazier.

She had come in to get her hair done for her 30th high school class reunion. Back in the day, back in the 80s, Bay High School was known as Glenbeigh High, because everyone had drug and alcohol problems. I was a Rockette, a good girl, but I knew what was going on.

Before she came in, she had called me about twenty times. I know because I told the receptionist the last fifteen times to tell her I was busy, her appointment was confirmed, and I would see her on the appointed day.

The first thing she said when she sat down was, “I’ve been sober for five years now.”

I barely knew her, hadn’t seen her in about thirty years, but now I knew she had been an alcoholic. Even though she was three or four years younger than me, she looked twenty years older than me. It must have been some hard drinking she had been doing.

Her hair was a mess. She looked like a messed-up game show host. She had been moving among stylists, even though most people stay with the same stylist year after year, looking for some fanfare that wasn’t going to happen.

I wasn’t going to have to worry about screwing up, trying to fix anything in the backwash. What I was going to have to worry about was her talking too much. A lot of clients talk about their family, their jobs, their problems, their personal lives, and their health, among other things. I was worried that she might talk about all of it, everything.

“You’re going to be my eighth hairdresser,” she said.

My first thought was, number nine is right on the horizon.

“I had another appointment with another one, but I think I’m going to try you,” she said. “Because we both went to Bay.”

She was looking through swatches when she pulled out a color.

“I want that one,” she said.

I looked at it.

“I don’t even know where you got that color,” I said. “It just says ‘Gray.’”

“I want gray hair,” she said.

“You want gray hair?”

“Yes.”

Even though she was sitting down, I sat her down.

“I know you probably like ash, not gray, exactly, but part of your hair is bleached out white, part of it is highlighted, and if I were to put ash color in your hair, like you want, your hair would turn to green mud. I am going to have to put a red base in your blond, which is what your hair is lacking. You’ve got a yellow green base. I have to add red to make it happen.”

“I don’t want red,” she said.

“Well, you know what, right now you don’t have a whole lot of choice.”

“I want the top of my hair blonde and the underneath dark,” she said suddenly.

“Hold down,’ I said, “because that is a whole new thing you just said. What do you mean you want the top all blonde and the bottom dark?”

“I want to see it a little darker underneath and a little more platinum on top,” she said.

“Oh, so underneath the crown of your head you want to see some dark?”

“Yes.”

“OK, but that is not going to happen the first time, or anytime fast. You have spent years bleaching it out and now it looks like a crooked toupee. It’s going to take a lot of hair cutting and depositing color to get you what you want.”

It is called color correction. It takes a bucketful of money. Many people will wear old clothes, drive old cars, but they won’t skimp on their hair. She liked what I had to say. She was on board for it.

“Thank you thank you thank you,” she said.

I hadn’t even touched her head, yet.

I see drama on the street, I’ll look to see what’s going on. Crazy me, I will try to break up a fight if I walk up to one. I’ll jump right in. Crazy me, I was willing to jump right in on her wrecked head of hair.

Hairdressers aren’t miracle workers, not the first one or the last one or any of them in between. Some are definitely better than others. I’m one of the better ones, especially when it comes to color.

In the end she liked how it came out. She looked good and I’m sure she looked good at her reunion, although how she’s going to look whenever her ninth hairdresser gets done with her, that’s anybody’s guess.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

Never Wrong Crack Corn

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“Inside of me are two dogs. One is mean and evil and the other one is good. They fight each other all the time. When asked which one wins, I answer, the one I feed the most.”  Sitting Bull

When I couldn’t find my favorite suitcase a few days before Brian and I were going down to Mexico for a week, I called Jimmy.

“Do you have my suitcase?” I asked.

“I’ve had it for three years,” he said.

“We take it to Mexico every year. You haven’t had it for three years.”

“Yes, I have, you’re wrong,” he said.

“No, you’re wrong,” I said.

“No, I’m not.”

“Are you ever wrong, Jimmy?”

“No.”

“You sound like you’ve had a few drinks,” I said.

“Yeah, a few. I work hard. After this I’m off to see the wizard. I’m not telling you for jokiness. I’m telling you because you want me to be honest, be your friend. I’m being honest. I don’t need any judgement.”

“I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways, dickhead,” I said. “Either you have friends who care about you, or not, so I’m going to say you’re an asshole for going to smoke crack.”

“I worked hard all week. Lynn knows where I’m going, what I’m doing,” he said.

“Then she’s a bigger idiot than I thought she was, for letting you smoke crack all weekend while you’re taking care of her.”

“What are you doing this weekend?” he asked.

“It’s a blizzard outside, so I’m in the house cooking.”

I love to cook when it’s snow storming.

“What are you making?”

“I’m making spanakopita. It’s a Greek spinach pie, with onions, cheese, and herbs. It’s all folded up in a flaky crispy dough.”

“Oh, you mean spanakapita.”

“I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced with an O,” I said.

“You’re an idiot,” he said. “You never admit when you’re wrong, do you?”

“OK, you’re right, I’m an idiot. I’m making spanakapita. Happy now?”

Why do I even ever talk to Jimmy? Brian refuses to speak to him.

“Why do you even talk to that asshole?” he asks me.

“Why are we even friends?” I asked Jimmy.

“Are you going to tell me you’re not my friend anymore?”

“Unfortunately, James, you and I have been friends since the 5th grade. There’s just no getting rid of you.”

“I took Lynn to a French restaurant last week.”

“That’s nice,’ I said. “So you’re back in the big house?”.

“Yeah.”

“How’s your dad? Is he still alive?”

“Yeah.”

I didn’t ask if he hung out at Lynn’s house anymore. For a while Jimmy’s dad had tried to get Lynn for himself, before Jimmy finally won her over.

“I heard Lynn’s dad has showed up down there in Florida.”

“Yeah.”

Lynn’s father is a very rich and a very sick man. Last year, when Jimmy was dating Lynn, he had a fit. He hates Jimmy. He said he was going to shoot him, although he never did. He has an undying love for his daughter, but not the right kind of love.

“I’m not allowed to be there when he comes over,” said Jimmy. “I take off.”

He knows it’s sick and demented, but he hides when Lynn’s father comes over. She has a big spread, what with her polo ponies, so there’s a lot of landscape to hide in.

“I don’t understand your life,” I said. “It’s gross! It’s wrong.”

“I’m being honest,” he said. “Don’t judge me.”

Right is right even if no one is doing it and wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it.

“That doesn’t mean I have to like it. It doesn’t mean I don’t worry about you. You’re dating a woman 20-something years older than you, who has a father who’s like a hundred, who, we won’t even talk about that, and you are smoking crack every chance you get.”

“Everyone has a few drinks. Why can’t I have some crack?”

“They don’t serve that at bars, that’s why,” I said.

“I can control it,” he said.

“Right, says every crackhead and none ever did,” I said.

“I just do my work, hang out, be myself.” He works in construction all week, and he’s started working for Lynn, too, at her house, on her property.

“Why shouldn’t I do the work, instead of the Mexicans?” he said. “Why shouldn’t I earn the money?”

What Jimmy likes is she has got money and a big house. What Lynn likes is the sex. They are both getting what they think they need.

“Basically, you’re doing whatever the hell you want, and she’s doing whatever the hell she wants,” I said.

That didn’t go over well. Jimmy says he’s being honest whenever he says whatever he says, but he doesn’t want any honesty in return. He thinks you’re getting in his face. Every time we talk, he tells me why he’s the greatest and why Brian and I are idiots. He’s like a broken record.

“Why won’t your husband talk to me?” he asked.

“Because you ran out on us after we took care of you when you were down and out,” I said. “And because of how you treat me.”

“That’s not true,” he said.

“Pray tell, how do you see it in your world?”

The crack the past ten years hasn’t changed Jimmy, not at all. He’s still as selfish and self-righteous as he always was. Brian says that he will never grow up because he’s not wrong, never wrong, and always right.

He knows more than you. Right off the bat, that’s what he assumes about everybody. You’re an idiot. I’m an idiot because I married Brian.

When I told him Brian’s new business had turned the corner and is doing really well, he didn’t want to hear it. When I first told him about it, what Brian was planning, he told me the business would fail, for sure.

“It’s going well,” I said.

Nothing is all of what Jimmy said. He didn’t want to hear it and had nothing to say.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

Bonk Bonk Bonk

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“No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as your dog does.”  Christopher Morley

I talk to my dogs all the time. What we talk about depends on what is going on that day. A few days ago I took a close look at Veruka and called her a fat whore. She didn’t care, even though she knows. She barked it off, a total brat.

She is going on a diet soon, if I can help it.

When I lived in Lorain, before I got married, I had two dogs, Niagara and Tonto. Niagara was half-witted, but Tonto was and still is the smartest dog I ever had. She and I talked. We even talked about God. She knew God, as certain as there is day. She knew who had created her.

When I’m in the kitchen I often ask my dogs questions they either can’t or won’t answer. My questions usually start with “How did this happen?” Then I point to whatever is the mess in the kitchen. They never say anything. They don’t want to get in trouble. But I can usually tell who did it.

I’ll walk up to the pack and say, “Who did this? I want to know right now.”

The ones who look around at all the others are not the ones who did it. They’ll look around at the other dogs and then look back up at me. The ones who look down right away are the guilty ones.

While they are getting yelled at, all the other dogs have big grins on their faces.

“Not me, right? I didn’t do it. I’m a good dog.”

Sometimes I have to step right up to them and show them what they did. If they just look at it, “Oh. What’s that?” they didn’t do it. But, if they look away, looking shifty, yes, they are guilty.

One day I did something that was my own fault. I left a bag of garbage on the kitchen floor. They ripped into it.

“Who did that? Get out of my house!”

They all slammed through the back door and into the back yard.

Jackie is our Blue Nose Pit. I’ve started called him ‘Hate the Mama.’ I ask him, “Why do you hate mommy so much?” He never says anything. He moves there, goes there, and I go, why? When I talk to him he thinks I’m playing. He opens his mouth and puts it on my face. He’s a very strange dog.

Whenever I come home he’s got to grab something, his toy, or whatever is close to hand, he’s got to have it in his mouth, and then he bonks me on the nose a few times with whatever is in his mouth.

If I am taking my shoes off, before I have taken the second one off, Jackie has the first one in his mouth and is trying to bonk me with it.

Talking to my dogs about whatever bad thing they’ve done doesn’t always work. That’s when it’s time for action. That’s when it’s time for the spank a heinie spoon.

I grew up with the rule of the wooden spoon. If you did bad, you got the wooden spoon, a heinie on the butt. Growing up, I was definitely scared of the wooden spoon. I hated that thing. I think the lack of spanking is why we have so many little punk kids like we do now with no respect for anything.

Give them the wooden spoon!

My dogs have grown up with the same rule as I did. You do bad, you get the wooden spoon. All I have to do is reach for it and they’re all good all of sudden. If I have to actually put it in my hand, most of the time I just crack it against the wall. They hate the sight and sound of it. They can’t get out of each other’s way fast enough.

Jackie, on the other hand, he gets a crack on the heinie, and he’s back on the move, WORTH IT!

I wouldn’t want that wooden spoon twice!

The squatter who lives in my basement sings to my dogs and his bulldog Louie, who is the dumbest dog I have in the pack. Lou is a good dog, but just stupid. All the dogs dig Kirby. They’re happy somebody is hanging out with them, talking to them. Kirby has been living scot free downstairs and talking to them for close to two years.

His disability checks are finally due to start arriving soon. We’ve depleted our savings taking care of him. He has plans of knocking out our kitchen wall and extending onto the porch once he starts getting his benefits.

“Yeah, that would be great, that would be fantastic, but I don’t know how much money you think you’ll be getting from the government,” I said. “Why don’t we wait until Brian’s business takes off, and we’ll look for a new house, and an in-law suite for you.”

We’re in it for the long haul with Kirby. He’s got nothing and no one. Where is he supposed to go? Who is he supposed to be with? His pothead friends down the street?

Kirby is always telling the dogs what to do. “You’ve been given a command,” he says. Except none of the dogs pay attention to him, including his own dog Louie.

One morning Louie was halfway up the basement stairs barking his head off.

“Get down here now, Lucifer, and stop that barking,’ said Kirby. He calls Louie Lucifer. “You’ve been given a command.”

We all laugh. It’s a kind of joke around our house. “Who did you give a command to?” None of the dogs ever listen to him, including his own dog.

Louie stayed put on the stairs and barked until he was hoarse. In the end he barked himself into not having a voice. That’s when he stopped barking, not before.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

 

 

Milkshake Machine

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“Everyone thinks they have the best dog. And none of them are wrong.”  W. R. Purche

Tonto was part Sheltie and part Collie, even though Shelties, which come from the Shetland Islands in Scotland, used to be Shetland Collies. What happened was breeders didn’t like mixing the breed names, so Shelties became Shetland Sheepdogs. Collies stayed Collies. Tonto brought the breeds back together.

She was the smartest dog I ever had. She knew go for a walk, go for ride, go do your business, go get a cookie, go get a hamburger, go to the kitchen. She could probably have done our taxes and gotten away with the deductions.

My brother and his family loved Tonto. Whenever they visited me in Lorain, when I was the mayor’s fiancée, before I wasn’t his fiancée anymore, they would say,  “Tonto, we’re going to the kitchen to get a snack.”

Tonto would get up and head for the kitchen.

If they didn’t get up from wherever they were sitting he would stop and look back.

“Didn’t you say we were going to get a snack?”

They would sing the drive-in song to her.

“Yum, yum, it’s time for a tasty and refreshing snack, let’s all go to the snack bar.”

Whenever they sang that song it was, whoop! let’s go get a snack, and Tonto would get on the move. I would say “What do you want, Tonto?” and she would tap whatever box of crackers or cookies she wanted.

If I said “Do you have to do your business?” she would get up, which meant, yeah, she had to go. Sometimes though, she would give me the yes sign, but at the same time say it’s wet outside, so let’s wait a while.

She didn’t like to get wet.

Everyone loved her. They would always ask if my dog could sleep over at their house. I let her go when she was younger, but as she got older, no, I wanted as much time with her as possible.

Everybody loved her, except the woman with the wiffle bat.

Tonto was in her own front yard one day, minding her own business, doing her own dog thing, when the woman walked by.

Tonto hadn’t left the yard, but the woman came onto my front yard, on my grass, and whacked Tonto with her wiffle bat.

I was sitting in the window eating cereal. I dropped the bowl and went crashing through my front door. I ran right up to the woman.

“What the hell are you doing?” I was so incredibly mad.

“Your dog, your dog…”

“Yeah, my dog, you fucking nitwit, why are you hitting my dog?”

“It’s vicious,” she said.

She carried her wiffle bat whenever she went walking, to hit dogs with, in case they attacked her.

I looked at Tonto. She ran up to me. “Why?” she asked. I gave her a pat on the head.

“My dog is vicious? Do you really think I’m that stupid? Do you really think I would let a vicious dog outside to just bite anyone passing by? I could lose my house over something like that.”

“You should keep your dog tied up,” she said.

“You should stay off my street,” I said. “Because if I ever catch you on my street again I will back over you with my car 97 times and tell everyone it was an accident.”

I never saw her on my street again.

The mayor heard about what happened.

“You can’t threaten to run over people accidentally,” he said.

What about my dog? I thought.

I already hated people enough. The woman had no right to hit my dog. We need a new plague, to thin the herd, I thought.

Tonto was so smart she never needed to be told twice not to do something. Whenever she did anything I didn’t like, I would tell her it was bad, and she would never do it again. My other dog, on the other hand, Niagara, a Newfie, had to be told 40 times about everything. . I was always making her sit on the stairs or next to the vacuum cleaner for a time out or punishment.

Niagara hated sitting on the stairs and was afraid of the vacuum cleaner.

My poor Niagara wasn’t a dumb dog, and she was loved and spoiled by me, but next to Tonto she looked like an idiot.

Sometimes I would test Tonto to see how smart she was.

“Do you want this cracker or that one?”

I would show her two boxes, Cheez-It and Tricuits. She would usually point to the Cheez-It box. She loved cheesy treats. Everyone loved how smart she was. They would give her treats as a reward.

That’s probably why she eventually grew a big butt.

Her smartness got her fat. She was very sensitive about her keister, though. If you talked about it, she knew you were talking about it.

One night we had a few people come over to our house, and when they came in the door they all crowded in the hallway, saying hello and taking off their coats. Tonto was there, trying to get through everybody congregating there. She was trying to get to me. I was her human among all those other humans.

She couldn’t get to me fast enough, so she thought, “I’ll just sneak underneath this side table.” She got low and got between the legs of the table, but then her butt got stuck between the legs, and when she kept going, the table went with her. She got nervous when she realized what she thought was happening, She thought the table was following her.

I told her, “Oh, Tonto, your butt is stuck!” She was so embarrassed She put her paw out. She looked up at me. She knew we were all talking about her big fat heinie.

“Oh, it’s OK,” I told her.

Sometimes she was OK with it. Sometimes she didn’t care. Sometimes she would even shake her milkshake machine.

That butt was awesome.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

 

Jumping the Fence

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“Dogs don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow.”  Dan Gemeinhart

The number one priority my dogs have is guarding my house, especially at night, since I will and do sleep through anything. They have to earn their puppy pennies somehow. They can be mooches, otherwise.

It was after the 4th of July one night when Brian had had to work until 4 in the morning that he set the dogs all barking at once. It was thunder storming when he got home, and walking up to the house he decided to take down the flag, fold it up, and put it away.

I had tried to get Jackson, our Blue Nose Pit, to come upstairs and sleep with me, but he was just not having it. He was being a punk. He went to sleep on the couch.

When Brian set the flag down on the floor of the porch and started to fold it, pandemonium broke out. Jackson jumped off the couch, rushed the front door, and started to bark. It started a chorus, of course, of more barking and howling by all my other dogs, who had been sleeping in the basement.

I was out cold in our warm bed upstairs. I didn’t wake up. I slept through it all.

I sleep with the TV on. In the morning, as I become aware that I’m waking up, I often ask myself – did somebody turn the TV off? All of a sudden I hear it. It happens as I finally wake up. Everything is shut out when I’m asleep.

Our dogs will howl at every fire truck, police car, and ambulance going down the street. At 3 in the morning it doesn’t bother me. I’m sleeping so soundly I don’t hear sirens. The neighbors, on the other hand, are not on the side of it being an awesome sound, at all.

Except for our Italian and Puerto Rican neighbors.

“They are doing their job. That is what you have dogs for,” they say.

One night when I was still a teenager in Bay Village, living at home, I slept through a fire alarm at home. My mother smelled smoke in the middle of the night, called the Bay Fire Department, and they rushed to our house. Even though it was a small fire, there was smoke, the firemen tramped in with their hoses, turned on all the lights, searched for the smoke, and took care of business.

In the middle of taking care of business they asked my mother if she was going to wake my brother and me up. He slept as soundly as me at the time.

“I don’t think so,” said my mother. “They have school tomorrow. Let them sleep. Everything’s good, right?”

“Everything’s good,” they said, tramping away.

When I woke up I told my mom something smelled funny.

“Right,” she said.

When my friends came over in the morning for their rides to school, they were all excited.

“What about the fire that happened at your house?” they all wanted to know.

“What fire?” I asked.

“The fire department was here last night.”

“No they weren’t.”

“Julie, they were at your house. There was a fire.”

“I live here. You’d think I would know if the fire department had been here. They weren’t here.”

When I asked my mom about it, she said, “Right, the fire department was here last night, and you slept through it.”

We have privacy fences on both sides of our backyard, but just a chain link fence at the rear of the backyard. Our Italian neighbor, Anthony, and his wife whose name over the years I have never found out, live behind us. A man and wife lived in the house next to Anthony. The wife’s husband died in the spring. While she was at the wake someone broke into her house in broad daylight. She was getting robbed at the same time she was burying her husband.

Except she came home earlier than the robber expected. He had probably read about the death in the newspaper and thought, oh, no one’s going to be in the house today, let’s go rob it. Unfortunately, that’s what some people do.

When she came home early Anthony and his wife were in their garden. When the robber was discovered, he jumped out the window into the backyard, and then jumped the side fence into Anthony’s yard. Anthony held his rake up high. The robber jumped the chain link fence into our backyard.

All hell broke loose.

Kirby, who’s been living in our renovated basement for a year, and almost never goes anywhere, had let the dogs out in the morning when Brian and I had gone to work. They were all out there, dozing, playing, and freeloading, since it was a warm sunny day.

All eight of my dogs were in the backyard. They went ape shit when the robber hopped the fence. They rushed him in an instant.

“What the fuck are you doing in our yard?” the dogs barked at once. What they were saying couldn’t have been more clear-cut.

“I think the guy maybe pooped his pants a little,” my Puerto Rican neighbor said afterwards, who had seen it all happen.

My dogs knew he was up to no good. They immediately went at him, going for blood. Most of my dogs are on the larger size. The robber in his black sweats jumped back over the fence into Anthony’s yard, rushed up the driveway, into the street, and was never seen again.

He can thank his lucky stars Jack was still a youngster. If he had been the size he is now, he would have done some damage. He would have gone over the fence after the robber, no problem. When he caught him, he wouldn’t have let go, either. It wouldn’t have been any problem for him to drag the thief to the police station.

Not that anyone in the neighborhood would have cared what happened to the robber. Who cares what happens to anyone who robs widows on the day of the wake? None of my dogs are going to put up with anything like that.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.