Monday, February 3, 2020

Nurse the Hate: A February Monday



I walk my basset hounds every morning.  I would be a simple target for assassination as I maintain a strict routine.  The basset, an absolute stickler for routines, is absolutely adamant that we go outside for our slow meander around the neighborhood at precisely 7:20am.  If I am being honest with myself, this routine is important to me as well.  The sense of purpose and inflexible schedule provide structure in my life that can at times seem completely unmoored in chaos.  The bassets and I have a classic enabling relationship.  Ultimately this will be our undoing as we are "whacked" by the Gambino crime family after I am in way over my head gambling and the Browns fail to cover at home in what appeared to be a "sure thing".  "The Browns miss the chip shot field goal!  Browns lose!"  I can see it now.  Hopefully there will be a grainy black and white photo of my bloody corpse staring lifelessly in the sky while uniformed patrolmen smoke cigarettes and laugh at private jokes.  The bassets will be taking a dump on the neighbors lawn, my hand clenching the unused blue plastic grocery bag flapping uselessly in the breeze.

This morning the bassets were edgy.  We didn't leave until 7:22, a clear breach of protocol.  They buried their noses into the ground and got to work.  I was thinking about the Super Bowl.  I should have been overjoyed.  I was heavily on the Chiefs, my biggest "play" of the season.  Things had looked grim at one point, but as expected Mahomes was great and Garappolo was what we all quietly expected.  This wasn't what bothered me.  It was the advertisements.  Almost all of the big budget Super Bowl ads were celebrity focused inside jokes.  The problem was I wasn't sure who most of the "celebrities" were, though I did vaguely recognize most of them.  I wasn't sure why 83 year old Martin Scorcese was freaking out because Jonah Hill hadn't met him at a party, and why Jonah Hill was the one that needed the much needed boost from some shitty Coca-Cola energy drink.  I didn't know why an unrecognizable gay bearded man campily told me I needed to eat pretzel pop-tarts.  I didn't know why character actor Luis Guzman (who's name I had to look up) was the guy most qualified to make a punch line in a confusing Snickers ad.  There were many music artists dancing around for soda and snacks, a decision that would have doomed a career in years past.  Unless Karl Ove Knausgaard or one of the guys from Calexico appeared in one of these ads, I just wasn't going to know who the fuck it was...

I should have been paying more attention to the bassets.  We were just slowly doing our thing, a sniffing of the general area in what I would call a "saunter".  As usual Monty was close to me while Ryver asserted her independence with a 15 foot drift from the team.  We were on a familiar corner, a house with a husky that has terrified the neighborhood and more specifically small dog owners since his arrival two years ago.  While some dogs need to be observed with some caution, this dog is bad news.  It is important to keep your head on a swivel.  His move is to lurk in the shadows and leap out in attack.  His victims include Brodie the collie and Charlie, the little fluffy bullshit dog, and those are just the two I know about.  Ryver, who assessed that the husky was imprisoned by an invisible fence, has been guilty in the past of staying just out of the range of the fence and taking a dump in the husky's face.  Not very neighborly to be sure, but as sure a sign of dominance that an admittedly wimpy 60 pound basset with a bad back can muster.  There is a history here between these two.

While I pondered Super Bowl advertising, the long term impact of the Corona Virus, and who might want to buy an Academy Awards local TV spot, I didn't notice the husky roaring out of the underbrush on a collision course with Ryver.  Ryver is a total joke as a watch dog.  She is 9 years old with a bad left leg.  She is a scent hound, and can become completely focused on a patch of grass.  The dog is oblivious to most of what is happening and has an inflated sense of her own ability if things get physical.  Frankly, this lack of self awareness is her most endearing quality.  I did the math.  She had her back to the husky sprinting towards her, and it was obvious the husky would get there before I would.  This was the Doomsday Scenario.

The husky immediately bit her deeply in the back, on the scruff.  There was no hesitation.  Ryver began to howl in shock and pain.  I had yelled out prior to the dog getting there as a last ditch hope to ward this attack off, but the dog had blown through the electric fence.  The husky bit into her again and Ryver yelped out again in pain while trying to get loose from the dog's toothy grip.  At this point I figured I was going to get bitten by this dog as I tried to prevent Ryver from being killed.  I had moved next to the two dogs and clocked the husky with a right hook to the head with everything I had, the impact shooting an electric pain up my arm as the blow sounded with a crack.  The husky bit down again on Ryver who was desperately struggling to get away, and I punched the dog again in the neck with a satisfying "thud".  Fuck this dog.  The husky lurched back and Ryver ran off howling, me following in mad pursuit so she wouldn't run blindly into the street and get hit by one of the teenage girls zipping around in the SUVs their Daddy's bought them for their Sweet 16th.  Ryver stopped after a short burst, blood streaming from her ear and shoulder.

The great thing about dogs is their ability to be stoic.  Had this happened to me, I would have been freaking out.  Ryver looked embarrassed more than anything, her brother Montgomery circling my legs as if to say "Hey, that crazy fucking dog isn't coming for me, is he?".  She looked amazingly composed considering she was bleeding from wounds on her head, neck and shoulder.  I made eye contact with her.  "You want to go home?"  Yep.  We all trotted the half block back to the house.  I dropped Monty off inside, tried to triage Ryver as best I could, and scooped her into the car to go to the vet.  She calmly sat in the back seat as I stopped at the the husky's owner's house.

My adrenalin was flowing.  I can feel my arms shaking.  I am partially hoping to get into a confrontation so I can go inside the house and chop everyone that lives there up with an axe.  "What?  You think this is my fault?  Here comes Johnny!"  (axe into door). Instead, after ringing the doorbell, I am met with a very nice woman, tears streaming out of her face as she begs for forgiveness.  She wants to know about the well being of Ryver.  Are we all ok?  Dammit.  I tell her what happened and tell her that I am going to have the vet call her for payment.  Meanwhile this poor woman has what might be the largest tears I have ever seen hitting the front porch as she sniffles through telling me about the family's attempts to train the dog.  She is purely filled with grief at the events that have transpired.  At this point I am making excuses for her.  I sheepishly leave, embarrassed by my early show of aggression at the door and drive Ryver to the vet.

Four stitches to the inner ear.  Three small puncture wounds to the body.  Ryver is like a zombie when I pick her up later that afternoon, the drugs used to sedate her still working though her system.  My jacket rattles with pills I will need to give her over the next couple of weeks.  The vet says the woman hasn't returned their call to offer up payment.  I leave the vet, letting Ryver let out a satisfying steam of urine after being locked up all day.  I wonder if the woman is going to willingly pay the vet.  I wonder if there will be more unpleasantness.  I wonder why I didn't know any of the Super Bowl halftime show songs.  I drive my dog home.

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