Anyone with a finely tuned sense of the ridiculous can usually find something amusing about most any situation, but there comes a point when life just ain’t funny. As a writer, I’ve been warily circling the big, snarled up ball of twine in the middle of my metaphorical writing room, looking for the string to pull that will allow me to write something about some subject. Anything. Forget amusing, I’d settle for coherent. Finally, I began pulling strings.
String A? No.
D? Good grief. The worst yet.
- drunk drivers
I was on the verge of giving up again until I reached this one:
- dumb dogs
At last! The right string after all.
Gramps and I have a border collie named Nellie. Border Collies are typically livestock herding dogs, not bird dogs. She’s beautiful and we love her, but she is handicapped by hyperactivity. Nellie is confined to our yard by a Pet Safe electronic collar that sends a wireless shock if she gets too close to the road. The collar has saved her life approximately twenty-three-million times, now, because Nellie loves to chase. She can’t be trusted with livestock, so she spends every waking moment chasing: motorized vehicles which she can’t catch because of her collar, the cat, grandkids, toads in the summertime, and birds. Mostly, birds. If she had the choice of a nice, juicy steak bone, or bird chasing, she would choose the birds.
Nellie’s obsession with birds causes her to go deaf so she still has to be kept on a leash when I take her out of her electronic circle. If I turn her loose, she races after birds and pays no attention to me calling her back even when I have a pocketful of meat as incentive to return. Bear in mind we are surrounded by miles and miles of wheat fields. She could run for a long time following birds as they lured her farther and farther away like the ruthless Pied Pipers they are.
Anyway, the other day while walking, some madness seized me and I let her off the leash. We practiced her commands for a while. Everything was great.
Then the flock of meadowlarks.
With single-minded zeal she dedicated her life to catching those birds. I don’t have a loud voice, and no matter how I shrieked, howled, or whistled, she ignored me. Anyone who has ever had a dog that won’t come on command knows how severely annoying that is.
Finally, she must have sensed it was good I wasn’t packing a gun and she headed back. I told her, “Good girl, good Nellie,” and so forth as reward for her reluctant obedience, but then she saw another bird and took off. I’d had it.
“Stop!” I roared. The force of my command pulled me up on my tiptoes and then rocked me back on my heels. A shower of spit sprayed all around.
Nellie stopped dead and looked at me like I was having a psychotic episode. Then she waggled over so I could snap on her leash. I stared at her, thunderstruck. All these months I had apparently been too nice with my calm, quiet commands.
We walked home with me periodically bellowing, “Stop!” And she did, looking at me like, “Geez. All right, just calm down.” I got the giggles. How ridiculous we must’ve appeared from a birds’ eye view.
An FYI: I learned that the command has to be clipped, with particular emphasis on the P. The spit pattern has to be just right. (Remember, that particular command–if done correctly–is really a bummer when the wind is strong and in your face, so brush your teeth beforehand and use mouthwash. Or, just sell your dog.)
So, until next time, God bless all y’all and if you write humor and your life ain’t funny, just start trying to find the string that’ll pull out of the snarl and make you laugh. It’s there if you look hard enough. Nellie hopes you enjoy her favorite song, Chasing Cars.
*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse Nellie’s behavior, she just loves this song.