Retching Kitty, Hidden Pooch

She would have loved my Chicken-Wing Trees.

I was dreaming of Salma Hayek (again!). We had ridden horses to the top of a hill, overlooking the vast plains of my hot-wing ranch. And as we looked out over the chicken-wing trees dripping with hot sauce (It’s a dream! It’s not supposed to make sense!). I looked at Salma, her raven hair gently rippling in the warm afternoon breeze. She smiled her gorgeous smile, turned to say something and, leaning towards me, opened her mouth and…

“Yuuuuurp!”

I awoke to the sound of the cat puking somewhere in the house. To be honest, I’m more of a clock-radio kind of guy, but I can rise from sleep just as fast (if not faster) when I register the distinctive “yurps” of a cat in yak-mode.

Being the conscientious guy that I am, I took immediate action.

“Salma, your cat is puking” I said as I nudged Mrs. Sigmadog.

“Who’s Salma?” she asked.

I rolled over and waited for the radio alarm, and tried to re-capture the magic of a long-gone Salma. But you can’t re-wind a dream. The horses, Salma, and the chicken wing trees were gone.

Perhaps that’s today’s metaphor of life. You work hard, you plant your chicken-wing trees, build a successful career and just when you are about to begin a lip-lock with your biggest dream ever, it all falls apart to the soundtrack of cat puke.

I’m not a big believer in heaven or hell, but if I were, when that long elevator ride down to the basement of existence ends, and the doors open up to the devil’s fiery lair, and I feel the blast of Hell’s furnace hit my face, it won’t be accompanied by the wails of the damned, but rather by the constant, never-ending yurps of a million cats chundering.

So I rolled over and tried to rebuild my dream. Six minutes later the radio flipped on.

My day had officially started, I was in a bad mood, and I had lots of work to do.

I had a plan to accomplish everything that day.

But no matter how well I prepare, nothing ever works out accordingly. The reason for this constant failure: dogs.

You are no doubt familiar with the story of Roman Emperors parading through the streets of Rome to the adulation (voluntary or otherwise) of the mob, and how, we are told, there was someone to whisper in Caesar’s ear a variation of “all fame is fleeting, you are but a mortal” or something like that. It was an attempt to avoid the hubris that accompanies fame and success. The point of the exercise was to maintain a sense of humility in the character of authority. It didn’t work very well, in the end.

They should have tried dogs. There would have been no more humbling experience than Caesar raising his hands in recognition of the mob’s adulation, only to notice his loyal canine companion squatting in front of him, squeezing out a duke. If Rome had adopted the dog strategy, maybe history would be different. No Sack of Rome. No Dark Ages. No Black Death. No Rocky V.

In the modern age, very few of us need cope with the vainglory of roaring crowds; and those that do soon find their own font of humility thrust upon them (see Mel Gibson, Anthony Weiner, Roger Clemens, etc. etc.). For the rest of us, we have dogs.

My day’s plans came to a halt the moment I realized that Reggie (our 13 year old border collie mix) had become stuck in a culvert, an eighteen foot metal drain pipe nearly two feet under our driveway. It has a 12 inch opening at one end, and a crimped 8 inch opening at the other. She was facing the smaller opening. It took four hours to coax her backwards toward the wide opening, close enough for me to grab her and, like an obstetrician, yank her out. It was a breach-birth, of course. She was covered in muck and water, like a newborn baby (or so I’ve heard). It was the closest thing to childbirth I have ever experienced, and ever want to.

The hole. The damn, damn hole.

She was finally free. But for four hours Reggie was a full member of the Doggie Underground, a revolutionary confederation whose motto must certainly be “Victory through Delay and Inconvenience” (while not the catchiest of phrases, it has the benefit of truth). If I were writing their recruiting posters, I’d do something like “Come for the biscuits. Stay. Staaaaay! Stay for the revolution!”

In the end, I got nothing done that day. But I have two dogs that are still alive (for the moment), a little humility, and a (rather long) story to tell.

The leader of the Doggie Underground