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The Dog

The Dog

Awhile back I used to volunteer as a mentor to kids without fathers. I guess, having a homosexual, as a masculine influence is becoming the rave.

Mary was a nice lady with three kids, Seth, the teenager and Andy and Phillip both under nine. Now I was a big brother to Seth but usually wound up pulling along Andy and Phillip for certain things. After about six months, the mother, Mary, decided that I had done such a good job that her kids were now ready for a dog. They had long wanted one.

It all started with me opening my big mouth. I came over one day to collect Seth, and there was Mary, all tired out.

"Where's Seth?" I asked.

After she explained to me he wasn't yet home from school she gave me an insight to the other two.

"You've got to go upstairs and give those kids a lickin'," she told me. "They've been at my last nerve all day." Well I was not going to hit her kids and told her so. "But it's the man's job to beat the children," she explained. When I reminded her she had a husband, abet an ex-husband; she replied "What do you think that means, I should get him on a plane from California, just to give his kids a lickin'." She continued on, "You just don't understand what it's like to be a parent, you don't know what goes on here, I have to look after this big house and all."

Yeah she looks after this big house with a housekeeper, a nanny for the two young ones and a big brother for the teenager.

"Well what exactly did they do?" I asked.

"What did they do?" she repeated, "What didn't they do?"

Oh great so in addition to the unpaid hassle of being a fake brother and mentor I now had to solve riddles.

"Well they got in a fight, they nearly blackened each others eyes," declared Mary.

"Then what's the point of me hitting them?" I inquired, "Seems to me they already have taken care of that."

Of course I could understand Mary's frustration, what else can you do to a kid now a days. You can't send them to their room. They each have their own room, their own computers, and more comic books than at a convention. Not to forget air conditioning, cable television, and cell phones. You know a seven year old needs one of those.

I explained to Mary the kids were probably bored and like kids they need exercise and maybe she should get a dog for the kids to play with and wrestle around with.

So soon I found myself being driven by Seth with Phillip and Andy in the backseat going 35 miles into the suburbs to buy a dog.

Now I love dogs, let me rephrase that, SOME dogs. I like big old floppy dogs you can wrestle with and run in the park. Not the little fife dogs that have to be carried around, I mean what's the point? You might as well get a cat.

It started when I suggest they "get" a dog. As Mary said "Mark you just don't GET a dog. You have to choose a dog that best suits the family. You have to consider the temperament of the dog, the breed, the size, the coat and only THEN can you select the right kind of kennel at which to purchase such an animal.

And here I was going to take a hot dog and throw it in the alley and wait for a dog with a collar to come grab it. Then I just take or kidnap him.

Mary didn't want just any dog, not even one of those pet store dogs was good enough. It had to be a specially bred dog. Considering her first and last kids were accidents, a fact she conveniently reminded them of, I found her concern over a dog a bit disheartening, but what did I know.

Now I didn't drive but Seth did, so I was the passenger to his chauffer with the other two boys in the back yelling, "We're getting a dog, we're getting a dog." Followed by a "When will we get there? When will we get there?"

So off to the suburbs we went and after an hour of so of the chanting and bathroom stops we came upon a house in a rather dingy setting. The kennel master came out to greet us.

"I'd like to see a dog," I said.

"A dawg?" he drawled. "Sir we have dogs here." was the reply

"Yes I want a dog," I asked again.

"You want a dawg," he repeated.

"Well what else the hell you got?" I asked

"Sir," he said "I am trying to get the feel for what type of dog best suits you and your personality.

So I explained to him that I wasn't going to be the one living with the dog and it was for the boys. I further explained we wanted a plain old dog, like the kind of dog I saw running around the yard."

"Oh him," said the kennel master, "He's just some old dog my wife feeds, I guess he's a stray or something."

I told him we were looking for something plain, a dog with a tail, fur, and preferably one that barks at burglars.

He asked me to sit down and explained they have lots of breeds: cocker spaniels, labs, collies, poodles, terriers, boxers and chihuahuas. He took me around back and asked which type impressed me the most.

I looked around to find the kids, only to see they couldn't be bothered with those dogs, because they were busy playing with the "stray mutt" the owner's wife was feeding.

"We want him, we want him," the two younger boys were yelling, as Seth was petting him.

"But he's filthy," I said, "He probably doesn't have shots and will be need to be fixed."

Of course they never heard me over the cry of "We want him, we want him." So I looked at the kennel master and said "OK I'll take him off your hands." The kennel master looks at me and says "I just can't GIVE him to you. We sell dogs here."

"I thought you said he wasn't yours, he was a stray your wife feeds."

"Well, yes but still, I couldn't let him go for less than $100.00."

I asked the kennel master if he sold leashes. When he replied in the affirmative I bought one, told the boys to walk off the property and call the dog. They did the dog came running and for $5.00, 35 miles and a lot of aggravations the boys had their dog.

I must admit the trip home was peaceful. Both of the younger boys proudly had their arm around the mutt, while Seth drove one handed carefully keeping his free hand available to pet the dog backhanded.

My only worry was how to keep the boys from telling their mother we had a mutt.

And just when I thought it was over, I found out how wrong I was. Now we have to NAME the dog. This is very important Mary explained to me a name sets the whole tone for what kind of animal it will be. The fact Mary named her kids without benefit of her husband in a combined 30 seconds flat was lost on her. Family conference time, have to name the dog you know.

I like dog names, like Rolph or Spot or Rover or Fido. I explained Fido is Latin for faithful. "He is a dog, not a Roman," Mary reminded me.

I suggested Skeelers. This is Dutch for inline skates. That suggestion only got me weird looks. I still say it's a cool name.

They decided on Hollister Weston Cabot III. The third part came from Gilligan's Island no doubt. The boys didn't care because whenever they are, the dog is right at their side. They'll never have to call him.

Now with the name solved, nutrition was next.

"You can't feed a dog like that table scraps," said Mary.

"Yeah," I agreed thinking to myself that would be a step up from the garbage, which he was previously eating out of.

The next week I went to meet Seth and before we could spend time together, we had to take Hollister out for a haircut. And he had an appointment, no Super Cuts for him.

She also got him a doghouse, very nice, better than my flat; of course there are underpasses nicer than my flat. Hollister likes it, doesn't live in it but it makes a nice place to store all the clothes he drags off the clothesline. Not to mention bones and an assortment of whatever else he digs up.

I remember I was over at the house and I suggested that the boys and I take the dog for a walk, "OK," says Mary but don't forget to put on Hollister's coat. I'm like the dog has a coat, in fact he's got a FUR coat. I on the other hand can freeze my ass off is the message I guess.

Hair cuts, special food, fancy houses, nice clothes, yuppie names, this was crazy and I told Mary who replied, "Mark you're a nice man but you obviously know nothing about dogs."

Considering I'm good enough to be a mentor to her kids but not to be trusted with the dog says something in my book.

OK I'll admit I am jealous of the dog. I wish I had it as good. They say every dog has his day I come next Christmas I see to it that Hollister is going to get cute little puppy as a brother. See how he likes being replaced.


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