By Dan Bodine
My ol’ longtime, coffee buddy in Presidio, Luis Armendariz, often would say: Be careful how you treat the animals! Someone’s watching! Meaning, of course, the biblical extension of Do unto others the way you’d have them do unto you.
But Luis never met Tigger — the wild male Tigger — Kareli’s little Chinese Pug who’ll jump up on your bed and pee on your pillow if angry at you. And, too, may soon be a sordid father-to-be, a neighbor woman told us Monday. Yes, Tigger! All that.
But first, the pee! Can’t recall how long it’s been going on. It seems our four dogs don’t like to be left alone at the house. We always shut them out of our rooms when we leave, where their doggie beds are.
They’ve got a nice, shaded back yard to play in; pet door to get into and out of the house, for food, water and such. What could be better? There is.
Tigger as the senior male must’ve declared himself the yáhoo dog-in-charge to correct this situation.
“I’ll pee on mom and pop’s bed when they get back,” I can imagine he told the others, maybe not in those exact words. “That’ll stop it!”
Spoiled pets, you say they are? That doesn’t cover half the specialness put into these dogs by Noemi and Kareli — making them believe, in fact, they’re the cream of the crop!
And yes, ol’ pop here has contributed some, too. But not without a modicum of some kind of respect for our human status.
“They’re dogs!” I keep saying to my wife and daughter. “Just plain damn dogs!
Maybe it was the second year we’d lived in El Paso when I noticed Noemi was getting upset about something peculiar every other month or so. I’d see her dragging bed linen into the wash room.
It occurred soon after we as a family had returned from somewhere — shopping, or dining out somewhere — and had left the kids (we call ’em) alone at home.
When I finally asked once if there was a problem, she reported the wet spots she’d sometimes see on the bed cover — spots with sharply detectable odors of urine.
And then explained how she’d finally convinced herself it was Tigger doing it. (Besides the fact he’s the only one who can or who’s ever dared to jump up on our bed.)
“He doesn’t like being left alone! This is our punishment!”
Thus the new game: What are you going to do with a damnation dog?!
Now maybe some of you are a little like me and not particularly sensitive to the depth of feelings that animals have. Huh?
Animals feel hurt sometimes?! Can actually be depressed for the longest of times over some little ol’ thing that don’t amount to a hill of beans?!!?
If I thought this was an argument I could win, I’d share more of my feelings on it. But in modern civilization you ain’t a gonna win this argument, partnuh!
As further proof, e.g., let me ask you to
view this very short film clip about a damn goat, of all things, who was suddenly removed from his best friend, a burro.
And was willing to pine ’til almost death before the new owners savvied up and went back and got the damn donkey for him! Watch this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv2OGph5Kec&feature=youtu.be&list=UU5MzAFj1U6Djzw6nUnsrLjg
And then argue animals don’t have feelings!
Anyway, last week with Tigger was the final straw!
Saturday afternoon Kareli was at a neighbor’s with a friend; Noemi and I returned to the empty house alone and was greeted by the usual excited barking of the kids; and proceeded to unwind. Home, finally.
I’d opened the bedroom door and went in to get something, and walked back out. Didn’t close the door behind me.
Ended up in the yard for maybe half an hour; and finally made my way to the study.
Noemi is a fanatical soccer fan (the player posters, everything), and will log into her computer soon after she arrives home, first — to get scores and stay up to date on what’s happening around the league.
What she missed from being out, you know?
So, there she was. In the study, too.
After I came in, maybe 20-25 minutes later, she left.
All the dogs were with us in the study. All but one. (I’d later learn) Then I heard the scream. Noemi was coming back from our bedroom.
“He went running into the back yard as soon as he saw me in there!” Noemi said. Sir Tigger had struck again with his magic sword.
Previously, each time Noemi would find this, she’d punish Tigger. Scream obscenities at him; throw things at him; etc., etc.
This time I joined in; I even wanted the first punch. We waited.
When he attempted minutes later to sneak back into the house unnoticed, I kicked him hard; sent him tumbling across the floor.
He dashed outside again thru the pet door. And I was right behind him thru the adjacent patio door with a broom, fully cocked and loaded!
“You want some shit, Big Boy??!!! Well I’ll give ‘ya some shit!!!!”
I was like an unchained, wild monster running helter-skelter thru the back garden, swinging the broom at him like it was the last ax handle standing in the way of Evil destroying the world. And damned to save it, I was.
Even if it meant beating a small, black dog to death! To a bloody pulp! With a broom!
How many times did Tigger run to that corner?! To that other corner?!
Crossing back over under the gazebo to the El Nino Garden to hide? Back to the Rosemary Garden to hide?! Dodging under dying tomato plants being chopped to pieces by a buzz-broom?!!
I have no idea how long the chase lasted. Nor how many times I’d struck him with the broom! Good solid hits? None.
What I realized … was, I was about to croak!
GASPING for breath! For AIR !!! Couldn’t go any further! My chest had constricted on me!
And I sat down in a lawn chair. Grabbing my heart and clinching what few teeth together I still have!
Slowly I gathered myself. Tigger was grounded! I decided. Outside. Forever!
Walking triumphally back inside the house, I slipped the cover plate into the pet door’s inside frame.
And informed Noemi (and, too, Kareli,who’d just returned and was standing there seething silently at me) of the new rules.
Tigger is out! No Mas!!
In mankind’s bid to grasp the eternal (that long, arduous, journey men and women throughout history have made to improve their Life), no doubt fools like me have littered landscapes for centuries.
It was probably 9:40 or 9:45 that evening (2 – 2 1/2 hrs. later maybe) when I changed my mind about Tigger’s sentence.
He’d parked himself outside the patio door, unmoving, a small, dark figure setting there patiently with his face against the glass — the cooling, night air settling in. He missed his other three dog pals, his playmates, obviously.
Noemi and Kareli, silently, would walk by occasionally and tap gently on the plate glass that divided us, trying to cheer him up. But he’d never look up at them. Not as an outcast.
Finally I slid the glass door open and stepped outside. Tigger instinctively backed off.
Noemi stepped out behind me then and walked toward him. He stopped. She knelt and picked him up. And he started licking her hands.
I turned to go back inside, and jerked the cover plate up to open the dog door.
The other three dogs came “barreling thru” out of nowhere and were all over Tigger in moments, jumping up and barking.
Our hero, no doubt.
I could hear tunes of Together, Again filling the night breeze. And even got a little choked up.
Sunday, you’d thought nothing had ever happened.
Then Monday morning Noemi and I left them alone to take some papers somewhere. Stopped on the way back for something. Returned home around noon.
Tigger was not with the kids to greet us. We scoured the house, and the yard. No Tigger. No unlocked or opened gates. What happened?
“Someone came in and got him!” Noemi said.
The back yard is enclosed by a 6-ft. rock wall. In the far back corner, on the west side underneath a 6′ x 8′ canopy we’d built several years earlier, I’d laid two wooden columns we plan to use to construct a rear porch onto our house later.
They lay there one atop the other as I walked back, each about a 2′-cube. The ONLY thing he could’ve used with his little short legs to launch himself over the fence.
Naw! No way! I muttered.
And decided to check the front yard, and maybe ask a neighbor or two if they’d seen anything.
Glancing down our west-side neighbor’s fence row from the front sidewalk, thru a crack in a wooden gate she has, I could see her back yard.
There sat Bella, her German Shepherd, and a runt-size, off-breed Chihuahua, her two pets. Along with Tigger.
Gates locked. No one home.
Maybe 10-15 minutes later I’d managed to open the wooden gate on the opposite side. And got Tigger.
Went to pick up Kareli at school later, and advised her of the mystery on the way home.
As we turned the corner back to our house, we saw Francine, our neighbor on the west side, getting out of her car with her three children.
I pulled over to the curb, advised her what I’d done to her gate; and Kareli got out to further explain about Tigger.
After I’d parked in the driveway, on the way to our front door, Kareli was walking back across the front lawn, having talked more with Francine.
There was a bit of a smirk on her face.
“Dad, Francine said Bella is one of those dogs in heat!”
It stopped me dead-tracks.
Damn! I mumbled. Damn, damn, damn!
— 30 —