By Tony Deyal
Reverend Warren J. Keating, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Yuma, Arizona, says that the best prayer he ever heard was, “Lord, please make me the kind of person my dog thinks I am.” Unfortunately, I am allergic to furry dogs so I have to stay as far away from them as possible. Fortunately for me, at 77 going on 78, I am very much aware that only dogged determination keeps me going and going like the Energizer Bunny.
The downside or the most unfortunate of experiences, is that at this age while almost all of us can still spend the entire night out with a woman, the only thing that comes is daylight. In fact, I feel like a dog chasing a car- even if I catch it, I can’t drive it. In my days in Barbados, I had an experience that was the total opposite.
I bought a car, a Mini Moke, without doors and totally open to the elements and the animals. My greatest fear was that a big dog would rush out, jump into my car and bite me. Because I worked for the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) I would inevitably end up in the hospital and the nurse would ask me, “Sir, what happen?” Me, “A dog bite me.” Nurse, “How that happen?” Me, “Well I was driving my car and somewhere between Coverly and Newton, I came to a plantation and a big dog rush out, jump into my car and bite me.”
Nurse, “Balls”. Me, “No, ankle.” Nurse, “No the place you get bite. Balls.” Me, not knowing that balls is the name of the village or plantation and not an anatomical reference responded loudly and angrily, “Nurse, not there, my ankle is where I get bite.”
It was after we left Barbados, went to Trinidad and Belize and then ended up in Antigua that my luck changed and my “Karma” ran into a “Dogma”. It is a fact of life that one day you’re the hydrant and spouting instructions and the next day you’re the dogsbody in the doghouse for forgetting your wife’s birthday, wedding day, Mother’s Day or worse. However, a cathouse is not the feline equivalent of the doghouse although a husband could be in the doghouse if he frequents a cathouse.
Some friends showed my wife and children a new litter of mixed-breed pups known as “pompeks”. I watched them play with the pups and knew that despite my warning that a dog would create problems for us when we wanted to go on holiday, I had already lost the game.
A tiny, pathetic pup was then smuggled into the house and presented to me as a fait accompli. We named him Crix because of his biscuit-coloured coat. About two years later we went out for a few days, leaving Crix with his original owner. Crix took the opportunity of our absence to sow his wild oats and his litter included a little ball of white fur that could barely stand. Saying that she feared the poor little runt would die if we did not take care of him, Indranie brought him home. Two more years passed and Missy came.
An old female dog with sad eyes, Missy, had moved into the neighbourhood and ended up at our gate looking imploringly at my wife, the animal magnet. Thrice we tried to return Missy to her owners and thrice, in spite of begone, she returned. I was forced to give up and Missy got her nose past the gate and into the house carrying a bundle – of children. When Indranie joined me in Trinidad, she brought Missy (now going on 17) and one of her daughters, Sheba (twelve this year) with her.
Fortunately for our two remaining dogs, even though Indranie cannot drive in Trinidad, she is an animal magnet and claims this is why I was attracted to her. Right now though, our personal stock is down to a Trini rabbit and these two very little, furry dogs. The older they become, the greater the care and love they get from their “mom” Indranie. I have to stay mum and not say anything. Indranie treats them so well that she is both a dogsbody and the dogs’ buddy, as well as the best friend of every animal flying, hiding, running or jumping into our yard. She has time and food for all.
Whenever I made a fuss about the dogs and my allergy, either because she kept them in the verandah so I couldn’t use it anymore, or tying them up in the kitchen at night so I had a problem making my early morning coffee, she always had an explanation. It is only recently I found out that the owners of animals including dogs, cats, birds and rabbits were discovered to have maintained more of their cognitive abilities as they get older than those like me who, either from choice or medical reasons, stay as far away from dogs and other animals as is humanly possible.
Cognitive abilities are general mental capabilities involving reasoning, problem-solving, planning, abstract thinking, complex idea comprehension, and learning from experience. I don’t have any dognitive powers and worse, Indranie uses all those she has to justify whatever she deprives me of to please herself and the animals.
Most times, because of my allergy, I let sleeping dogs lie. The only good thing is that without any help from me, our politicians are still better at that than any dog I have known. They keep promising us (and the dogs) they will do something positive about the fireworks but it is very clear that they’re sleeping on that and all the other promises they make at election time. We have a political leader whose nickname is “Rottweiler”. One of my disgruntled friends told me that while research shows that dogs know up to 215 words and phrases, all ours talks is “Rott”. My reply was, “In that case, we dogs dead.”
My son heard me and not knowing that the phrase has nothing to do with dogs as such but means “a situation is hopeless” or “we are helpless”, he was upset. “How you mean we dogs dead daddy? You think the Rottweiler will kill our dogs?” I had to calm him and so told him a story to show that Rottweilers sometimes meet their match. A quiet, little man walked into a bar with a dachshund under his arm and was immediately made fun of by a burly giant with a Rottweiler.
“What a stupid, ugly excuse for a dog,” the big bully guffawed. “Long nose, no legs. Ugliest dog I’ve ever seen.” The little man mumbled, “Yes, but he’s real mean.” The big man forced a bet on the meek little man. “Fifty dollars,” he boasted, “that my Rott can finish off your poor mutt in two minutes flat.” The two animals lined up nose-to-nose and the short, ugly one lunged forward and bit the Rottweiler in half. “What kind of a dog is that?” asked the amazed Rottweiler owner. “Well before I cut off his tail,” the little man said, “he was an alligator.”
**Tony Deyal was last seen saying that he knows why these “pompek” mixtures are called “lap” dogs – they are always hungry and “lap” up everything in sight.