Showing posts with label dog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dog. Show all posts

24 May, 2019

Things My Dog Teaches Me, the New Podcast (SUBSCRIBE!) and IGTV (FOLLOW!)

Gypsi… Dog and sometimes Yogi
While I am taking on some freelance work hither and thither, the bulk of my creative energy is being used on … well... being creative. It occurred to me that all the stuff I poured into working towards other people's visions could have been poured into my work, my vision.

It also occurred to me that this is a more natural process... feeding my energy back into my talents, and my gifts is a self-sustaining cycle. Feeding all of that into other people's projects... even projects I like … may feed my stomach, but it draws too close to the bottom of the spiritual well.

And so, here I am. If you missed last week's post about my mostly daily poetry posts on Instagram, check that out here... and jump over to IG and check out my posts. I'm also playing around with IGTV over there. Stop in and give some love, some comments, and pass along.

I've also started a new podcast project: A Record of a Well Worn Pair of Boots: The Podcast, hosted on Podbean. If you look up in the tabs, you can see a new page here with an embedded player. Please give it a listen, subscribe, and share. It's a short format, no frills kind of podcast.... perfect for a bus or train ride, something to listen to in the car, or just to help you get through the office grind.

I know at this point you're feeling punked. What about the fucking dog? you're saying. Well, here she  is:

the thing is that while I get a lot of benefit from my meditation and workout routine, the fact is I learn the most from the world around me... in this case, my dog, Gypsi. She was a rescue when we got her and is 5 years old. Part Catahoula, part Blue Heeler, with a dab of Lab thrown in, she's a wonderful bunch of sometimes over active fun. Unless Amanda' home, Gypsi is always with me when I work out or meditate. And unless she's grouchy (usually about an hour before bedtime), she's always ready to play. And here's what she taught me today while kicking my ass with her downward facing dog:

  • Live in hope (because you just never know) and gratitude (because sometimes you do!);
  • Always be happy to see the people you love and who love you;
  • Try and have at least one really good, squeaky toy.

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11 November, 2009

Blue-Eyed Dog

When I saw the corpse, it looked like it had been out all in the cold. It was – or it had been, at any rate – a retriever mutt. Short hair. Brownish coat. His pecker was hard and his mouth was locked in a permanent snarl. It looked like it looked up to meet the car head on and lost.

“Shouldn’ta been in the street,” Sammy said, and spat on the sidewalk, just to see if the goober would freeze. He was always so cool. Detached. We’d been friends since elementary school, and he was even cool back then. The only thing that ever seemed to affect him was the tightness of Marissa Hency’s shirt on any given day. Her freshman year she was a gangly little girl with mousy hair and big eyes that nobody noticed. But when she walked to the school building at the beginning of her sophomore year –our senior year – her tits crossed the entrance well ahead of her. Since then, the sight of her put Sammy into a dreamy-eyed frenzy and robbed him of the ability to speak coherently.

“Somebody should have tied him up,” Fremont added. He had the car, so he drove. Sammy parent’s wouldn’t let him drive one of theirs, and I totaled mine; Fremont was also a sophomore – a fact that Sammy often resented, since he was in the same homeroom as Marissa Hency – but he was a good kid. Super smart. He was in all the advanced classes and all the teachers loved him. The only thing that saved him from being bullied was the fact that his old man had been biker and taught him how to fight. He was also the school artist; people always wanted him to draw them pictures because they just knew he was going to be a famous artist someday.

“We can’t just leave him there,” I said. The dog was in the gutter across the street from Sammy’s house. The legs were stiff. The frost that had settled the night before was still covering his coat. It was still cold enough that I could see my breath when I talked.

“We gotta get to school,” Sammy said.

“Like you give a shit about school,” Fremont said, smiling. “You’re just going to pass out behind the wrestling mats until lunch, anyway.”

Sammy gave him the finger. “Shut the fuck up.”

“We can’t leave him here.” I didn’t really care about school. Besides the fact that it was my senior year and I didn’t give a shit anyway, first bell was Introduction to Business, Ms. Stockdale’s class. She was a horrible teacher and it was a horrible class. She talked on and on and on about things like how to keep a balanced checkbook and about the nature of supply and demand. I took the class because I needed an elective and there weren’t any art classes; my only other option was a typing class that would have been worse torture than listening to Ms. Stockdale. I would have taken a shop class, if only to have an excuse to hang out with Sammy – but the guidance counselor made sure that none of the college-track kids, which I was, never got into any of the shop classes.

The dog wasn’t the first dead animal I’d ever seen; you grow up in a small town like New Leeds and you see a lot of dead animals. Mostly cats. Nobody really cared about cats. In the spring, squirrels and raccoons were regular road kills. More skunks in the summer. Far enough out of town, sometimes you’d see a deer get tagged by a speeding truck. There were plenty of stray dogs – but they were either adopted or shot or, sometimes, even poisoned. But they weren’t road kill very often.

“It’s DEAD,” Sammy rolled his eyes. “Who gives a shit? The road crew’ll come and pick him up in a couple of hours, anyway.”

Sammy was right; eventually somebody would call it in and the Road Department would send out a truck. They’d scrape him out of the gutter and take him to be incinerated. Animals that were owned or loved were generally buried. One of my cousins told me about a friend of theirs who had his dog stuffed; he had it made to look like it was curled up sleeping and then put in what had been the dog’s favorite corner. I thought that was disgusting; nobody would ever do that to a person. Why do it to a dog?

“How would YOU like it?” I asked Sammy, “if you were dead in the gutter and nobody gave a shit about you?”

Sammy spat on the sidewalk again and lit a cigarette; he wasn’t worried about getting caught because his parents had already left for work. “I wouldn’t care,” he said. “I wouldn’t care at all. “ So cool.

I bent down to take a closer look, and I patted the dog’s head. He’d had a hungry life and probably didn’t get petted that much; I could count a couple of his ribs. I looked at the dog’s snarling face again. One of the eyes was shut, like it had squinted – looking straight into oncoming headlights, probably. But the other eye was wide open. It was a lifeless grayish-blue color. It made me think of what I’d heard once about wolves having blue eyes; for some reason, it made me feel sadder than I already did.

“Don’t do that,” Sammy coughed. “Dead bodies carry disease. You’ll get one of those worms that crawls up your dick.”

“It’s too cold for that,” I said.

“Yeah,” Fremont agreed.

Sammy shot him another dirty look. Then he looked over at me. “Come on, Nick,” he said. “Let’s go. What’re you gonna do? Have a funeral for it?”

I looked up at Sammy. He looked like he was making a joke. I looked over at Fremont. He was looking at me. He nodded, and I nodded back.

“Jesus fucking CHRIST!” Sammy Scoffed. “Are you SHITTIN’ me? It’s not even your dog, man! What if the owner comes looking for it? Don’t you think THEY’D want to bury it?”

“No tags,” I said as I stood up. “No collar at all.” I looked around the head again. No blood, except right around the mouth. When I moved to stand between Sammy and Fremont, I felt the eye following me and I shuddered. Just a little.

“Not everyone buys tags,” Sammy said.

Fremont and I decided to take Sammy to school and come back for the dog. At first, he didn’t believe that we were really just dropping him off. He told us we’d end up getting in trouble. We ignored him.

“Whatever,” he muttered when he got out, slamming the door behind him. Fremont reached over and opened the door so I could get out of the back and sit in front. After I moved and closed the door we pulled out of the parking lot. Fremont said he had to stop at his house; he said his dad had some shovels we could use.

I didn’t like the idea; but if anybody would understand, it would be Fremont’s mom. She was an artist and had a couple of poems published in this anthology made of leather with gold trim. I showed her some of my poems once; she gave me my first honest critique and encouraged me to keep writing. That meant a lot, so I was hoping she would understand why Fremont wasn’t at school.

I waited in the car while Fremont went inside. The frost was starting to thaw. What few leaves were left on the trees had fallen off during the night. It had been the first real frost of the year; that meant winter was coming. We’d probably end up living though another ugly, brown, snowless winter. The last time it had really snowed, I was eight or nine years old. They had to call off school – which hardly ever happened, before or since. (The Superintendent was one of those grumpy old fucks who told stories about walking to school uphill both ways in a blizzard. The parents all loved him and were just waiting for him to retire or die so they could name one of the school buildings after him.) Everybody had to stay home that day; it was so cold that it was even cold in the house with the heat one and Dad made me a cup of coffee to help stay warm. He loaded it down with cream and sugar. It had an awful taste. I didn’t try a cup of coffee again until after he died. I drank it black, like he did.

Fremont walked out of the front door carrying a ratty old blanket and two pairs of work gloves. “For the dog,” he said. “She doesn’t want us to touch him.”

“Right.” We went to the small unattached garage and found the shovels. Then we tossed them and the blanket in the backseat and drove back to where the dog was.

He was still there. Fremont pulled the car in the driveway nearest the corpse. It didn’t look like anybody was home.

“We should probably hurry,” he said.


When we got out, I grabbed the blanket, gloves, and shovels, and Fremont opened the trunk. We both put on a pair of gloves. Then we decided that the best thing to do was to put the blanket over the dog and try to roll it over so that the dog would be on top; that way we could carry it by holding on to the blanket. But the body was heavier than we thought; Fremont and I struggled to flip the dog out of the gutter without accidently breaking off one of its legs. The body was still stiff and felt frozen; the frost had started to melt, which left the fur a little wet and made it even harder to get a handle on the dog. Fremont was working the tale end, and I working the head. That eye stared at me the entire time. The whole operation took on determined air of desperation. There wasn’t any traffic, since everybody else was where they were supposed to be; but it was taking too long. A few cars passed by, but none of them even bothered to slow down. All those stories about the how close knit small towns are and how everybody is in everybody’s business must have been started by people who never lived in one. Unless you set something on fire, nobody notices anything.

After a few grunts and shoves we got the dog turned over. Then we each picked up our corners of the blanket and carried it over and set it down as carefully as we could in the trunk. When Fremont closed the lid, that eye was somehow still face up and looking straight at me.

The car heat felt good. “Where you want to go?” he asked.

“I don’t really know,” I confessed. “It should be someplace, you know… private. The woods or something. But we shouldn’t go too far. It’ll take too much time.”

He nodded in agreement. “I think I know a place.”

Suddenly I wanted a cigarette. I usually bummed one off Sammy in morning, but the dog distracted me and I forgot to ask. He didn’t offer, either. Damn him, I thought. Like he really cares about school. He won’t even see Marissa Hency in hallway until lunch.

Fremont drove towards the edge of town. I thought I knew where he was going, and when we got there, I was saw I was right. On the edge of town, next to the cemetery, there was a small patch of woods; you had to drive through the Baptist Church parking lot and down this one lane gravel road to get to it. The woods were next to this small field where the Baptists held outdoor summer revivals and Vacation Bible school functions. When we got to the clearing, Fremont drove right onto the grass clearing and parked next to the trees on the side closest to the cemetery.

“How are we gonna do this?” I asked, getting out.

“We carry the dog back,” he said, “then I come back for the shovels.”

After Fremont opened the trunk, he immediately grabbed the tale end, leaving me the eye. Again. I tried not to think about it watching me as our little procession made its way past the line of tree line, with its leafless limbs sticking up in the air. We walked ten or twelve yards until we came on a small clearing that had probably been a bum’s campsite at one time. There was a small circle of rocks somebody had used for a makeshift fire pit. We put the dog down and Fremont went and grabbed the shovels. It was starting to warm up, but the air was still chilly. If we were lucky, the ground wouldn’t be too frozen or full of rocks.

It wasn’t too frozen; that would take a few more weeks. But we once we got past the thin layer of dead grass, the ground seemed to be more rock than dirt. Originally, we had intended to dig a six foot hole, like a real grave; but after about hour of digging, we realized it would take us longer than we had. I looked my watch; it was almost the middle of third period. We had to get to school by lunch or Sammy would never let us hear the end of it.

We dug the plot deep enough that he wouldn’t be bothered, and we left him wrapped in the blanket when we lowered him down. Somehow we’d managed to put him in there so that that damn eye was still staring up at me.

“Your mom won’t get upset about the blanket?” I asked.

Fremont shook his head. “She won’t want it back.”

Filling in the grave didn’t take nearly as much time as digging did, and when we were finished, we lined all the rocks, including those used for the fire pit, along the edges. Then we stood there for a couple of minutes.

“You want to say something?” Fremont asked.

“No,” I answered. I didn't want to say anything. There wasn’t anything to say; nothing anybody said over a grave was worth hearing, anyway. We stood there for another couple of minutes. Then we walked back across the tree line, got into Fremont’s car, and left. We returned the shovels and work gloves before we went to school, and Fremont’s mom made us scrub our hands raw before she let us go.

We reported to the office when we got to school. When I filled out my tardy slip, I wrote “buried a dog” as my reason. The secretary eyed me carefully, her gray eyes peering at me over the top of rhinestone speckled bifocals.

When we saw Sammy at lunch, he gave us shit. We ignored him. He talked and laughed and cracked jokes until Marissa Hency walked into the cafeteria. She was wearing a tight blue sweater.