Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sammy, the Beagle: Stories 3-4

Sammy was the beagle we adopted from the veterinarian who had a kind of informal “beagle rescue” at her pet hospital. She had agreed to take the dog when its owners said he snarled and barked at their newborn baby. The goal was to adopt it to a family willing and able to take on a young beagle who did not enjoy the company of toddlers who pulled its ears and tail.

Podcast / downloadable audio...

My son, who was 10 or 11 at the time, saw the dog and instantly bonded.

Little did I know that his bond was forged of fragile straw, but the bond the beagle would establish with me was superglue.

Sammy Story 4

Life is an adventure. It’s a dog’s life. What is the difference? Does it matter? It matters if you’re the dog, I suppose.

Sammy, the beagle.

Susan, the human.

If you’re a believer in the Great Chain of Being, you’d assume that you, the human, would be on the top of the food pyramid. You’d also assume that Sammy, the dog would be somewhere in the middle rungs of the ladder. On top? The lion. On the bottom? The snake.

Life is not so black and white, nor is it so hierarchical.

Sammy should be five or six rungs (at least!) higher than I. He should be given bonuses for rain, storms, miseries, etc. for his time in the mud.

Intrusive memories are less than pleasant. What does one do to block them out?

It is fairly easy to see how one could seek altered states of consciousness in order to avoid them.

Do dogs have memories?
Do dogs have intrusive thoughts?

It is a good question. So – what do I do? I run. I run, run, and run.

Whether or not this is healthy is not something. I really want to enter my mind.

The living nightmare. It is everywhere.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sammy, The Beagle: Story 2

“Your dog is out again!” The neighbor who was convinced that Sammy had killed and eaten their pet white cat was shouting at me as I got out of my white Honda. It was a car identical to any number of other white Honda Accords, except mine had peeling paint from where a ninety-one year old woman, fresh from cataract surgery, had plowed into me as I was stopped at a red light. The accident had happened a few years before, but every time I saw the peeling surface, I felt a twinge of irritation.

Podcast: http://www.beyondutopia.net/podcasts/sammy2.mp3

My emotional perturbation, however, was nothing compared to the surge of rage that my neighbor experienced whenever she saw my cheerful beagle prancing down the road, tail held high.

The dog was out. Okay. She could have phrased it a bit more diplomatically. After all, she was not going to have to be the one to drive through the neighborhood at 10 miles per hour, gagging on the still-redolent back seats, “Eau du Dog.” Yum.

Sammy had learned to open every gate latch known to civilized man. He had also learned the trick I had previously attributed only to Buddhist monks who could “twin” their voices and sing two notes at the same time, who could melt piles of snow with their radiant heat, and who could “speed walk” hundreds of miles over mountains in a day, as reported by Alexandra David-Neel in her book, Magic and Mystery in Tibet. (buddhism books)

However, Sammy was no Buddhist monk, no matter how he made me mindful of “nothingness” and the notion that reality is really a blank slate until I populate it with the contents of my mind.

Instead, what I had on my hands was a big headache. Right now, he was standing the middle of a busy intersection, cars and trucks honking at him, and swerving to avoid flattening him like road-kill squirrel.

“Here you go, boy! Food! Treats! Mommy’s here!” I tried every tender entreaty in the book. “A pig ear chew toy just for you!”

Desperate to rescue my son’s dog, I parked the car and raced into traffic. I emerged, after receiving brutal imprecations, with a very stinky and resistant beagle in my arms.

Was he grateful?

Not at all. The first thing he did was to pee on my back seat.

Was my neighbor grateful?

Not at all. The first thing she did was to shout at me: “He killed and ate Snowball, you know!”

No one had ever seen Snowball, so I seriously doubted she had been eaten. With an owner like that, she probably ran away. One day Snowball would come back. The neighbors would have to dye spots on her to avoid losing face.

I rolled down the window to let a bit of the eye-stinging air mix with sweet prairie breezes. Sammy was whining and making mild retching noises to warn me that the urine would soon be blended with dog vomit.

What a life.

Is this the revenge of Snowball, the white cat that no one had actually ever seen?

Sammy, The Beagle: Story 1

If purgatory, or something like it, exists, I’m sure that there is a special round reserved for me. It will be a dark place, jumping with fleas, steeped in dog urine, where the hot breath of an angry beagle burns the back of my calves and I hear a low, throaty growl as the dog’s lips curl back to reveal yellow canine teeth, crusty with tartar and leftovers from Taco Bell.

podcast: http://www.beyondutopia.net/podcasts/sammy1.mp3

The dog has just rolled in his own stinkiness to get rid of the perfumed stinkiness of the “doggie spa” at PetSmart, where the blonde beagle has just had his coat gently massaged with hypoallergenic pet shampoo, and delicately rinsed with warm water, had his teeth brushed, his nails trimmed, and his ears cleaned and dried. Sammy: the overly pampered dog who hated pampering. He preferred to be on the hunt for rabbits, or simply standing in the middle of traffic, looking blankly at oncoming cars.

I never imagined myself to be a bad master, an overindulgent dog owner.

In fact, I assumed my “be free, live and let live” attitude was enlightened. Although somewhere in my heart of hearts I was guilty of what PETA claims is the crime of our age - acting as though other sentient beings exist simply to do our (humans’) bidding, and that somehow we humans are at the top of a Great Chain of Being of our own invention, when in reality, dogs are on top. No one openly acknowledges this, but it’s true. Once a person becomes dependent, emotionally on a pet, then it’s all over.

That dog owns you.
Photo: What Sammy would undoubtedly like to do to me if he ever encounters me in the afterlife...