Dog, Dog

Dog, Dog Sung by Sweet Honey In The Rock: Written by James Bevel and Bernard LaFayette

Dog Dog, Dig ogg,
A-digga dog dog,
A-digga dog dog,
A-digga dog dog,
A-digga dog dog,
A-digga dog dog,

Talking ´bout a black dog
Talking ´bout a white dog
Talking ´bout a hound dog
Talking ‘bout all the dogs

If my dog loves your dog,
And your dog loves my dog,
And my dog loves your dog,
And your dog loves my dog
So why can’t we sit under the apple tree?

You want to walk with me: you want to talk with me
So why don’t you hold my hand
And tell me you understand now
Can’t you see, that you and me
We could be so happy
Sitting under the apple tree

My little dog was a playing one day
Down in the meadow by a bundle of hay
Another little dog he come along
Said let’s get together and eat some bone
Now why can’t we sit under the apple tree?

You want to walk with me; you want to talk with me
So why don’t you hold my hand
And tell me you understand now
Can’t you see, that you and me
We could be so happy, sitting under the apple tree

Dog Dog, Dig ogg,
A-digga dog dog,
A-digga dog dog,
A-digga dog dog,
A-digga dog dog,
A-digga dog dog,

If my dog loves your dog,
And your dog loves my dog,
And my dog loves your dog,
And your dog loves my dog
Then why can’t we sit under the apple tree?

Dog, Dog: The Spotted Dog

 

I believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Headless Horseman. I believe in Voodoo, Hoodoo, Bad JuJu, and Good JuJu. I believe in hellos, good-byes, and so-longs. I believe in happy endings, sad endings, good endings, and bad endings. I believe in predestination, in fate, in accidents and in coincidences. I believe in angels, ghosts, specters, and the Phantom of the Opera. I believe in witches, spells, curses and talismans. I believe in good luck, bad luck, pot luck and no luck. I believe there are many fish in the sea. I believe when handed a lemon you can turn it into lemonade. I believe in Peace on Earth. I believe you can turn a frown upside down and make a smile. I believe if you see a robin weep when the leaves begin to die, he has lost his will to live. I believe every cloud has a silver lining. I believe the moon hides its tears behind the clouds. I believe in raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. I believe a cat will bite the heads off beautiful songbirds just for the fun of it. I believe an apple a day keeps the doctor away, or the teacher at bay. I believe in magic, black magic, and the magic of love. I believe Unicorns once existed, but were playing around when Noah loaded the Ark, and they missed the boat. I believe in Evolution, and that the Human Race in now in the process of Devolution. I believe in brown paper packages tied up in string. I believe man is man’s worst enemy, unless you count the mosquito. I believe elephants cry. I believe you can’t hurry love, love hurts, and that love will keep us together. I believe in the Mummy’s curse, and that the Creature walks among us. I believe that dog is god spelled backwards. I believe the dog is man’s best friend, and that it is no accident that man’s best friend can’t talk. But mostly I believe in Karma: Good Karma, Bad Karma, and Instant Karma. And it is Bad Karma that has come to haunt me like Banco’s Ghost haunted MacBeth. My Banco’s Ghost has come in the form of The Spotted Dog.

If you read Volume One of “The Road Through Dark Places”, you may remember what I wrote about dogs:

“The Abandoned Puppy: One day, while riding my bike in the woods, I came across an abandoned puppy. The puppy looked like a German Shepard, and was very young. I picked him up and rode home, carrying him carefully so I didn’t drop him as I rode my bike. I wanted to keep him in the worst way. Well, my Dad was a Postman, and had no fondness for dogs, and he wouldn’t let me keep him. We had to take him to the Humane Society, a terrible experience for me. The worst part about this is that later, in the winter, I was wandering through those same woods where I found the puppy, and came across the frozen bodies of three puppies huddled together under a tree. They were obviously the siblings of the puppy I found and wanted to keep. That image of the three frozen puppies stays with me to this day.”

It is this experience that made me want to have a dog of my own. And I eventually did; I have had many dogs, and that is why the Bad Karma of The Spotted Dog follows me around wherever I go. I have tried incantations, meditations, recitations, exorcisms, presentations, explanations; Gregorian chants, yoga, aerobics, Holy Water and incense, walking through the wood on a snowy day, Lutheran hymns; singing show tunes, and reading quotations from W.C. Fields to him – all in an attempt to change the Bad Karma of The Spotted Dog to Good Karma. To date, nothing has worked. Let me explain…

My first dog was an Irish Setter named Whisky. He had a beautiful soul and a kind heart. Happy go lucky was he. When my children were young and small he loved to play with them, and they could do anything they wanted to him and it wouldn’t make a difference. He loved to run free. I remember him jumping out of the open window on the passenger’s side of the car and running, and running, and running, through the green fields of home. He was beautiful both inside and out. Unfortunately he died of kidney failure at the age of fourteen.

My next dog was an impressive gray and white Alaskan Husky named Buck. He was a massive dog, strong as an ox. I used to put a harness on him, and he would pull me around on my bicycle for hours at a time. The more we did this, the more he wanted to do it. He liked to sleep outdoors, and in the winter, if it had snowed overnight, you would see him emerge from under a pile of snow, ready to go for the day. Unfortunately, one day while we were in the house, my youngest son dropped a spoon on the floor and slid off his chair to get it. Buck happened to be under the table, and when my son went to get his spoon, Buck almost ripped his face off. As soon as he did it, Buck knew he had done something terrible, and became very sheepish and apologetic. In the county where we lived at the time, the law stated that whenever a dog bites a human, he must be put down. I still remember the long drive to the Vet’s, with Buck in the back seat and me trying tearfully to explain why I had to do what I was going to do. Well, Buck soon found himself in doggie heaven, but we told the children that I had taken him to a sled-dog farm in Red Cloud, Minnesota, where he was very happy. That myth lasted until my sons were in their twenties, and the truth was still shocking to them.

After that experience, we decided to go with a Golden Retriever, about as safe a dog around young children as there is. We named him Crash, because as he was growing, he would crash into things, particularly end tables with lamps on them. He was a great and kind dog, with a loving heart and a smile. (Dogs do smile, you know.)

Because we lived in the country, we had plenty of room. One day we made a trip to the local pet shop, just to look at the birds. My middle son wandered away to the puppies’ section, and fell in love with a Bassett Hound puppy. After much discussion, we brought him home and named him Bud. So now we had two dogs, a rabbit named Roger, two parakeets named Ron and Reola, and two fish tanks. Later we would add a Cockatiel, a bird the entire family grew to dislike, as he was as mean as a one-eyed cat. I’m ashamed to admit I can’t even remember its name.

Bud was kind of a strange dog, as he loved my wife and children, but for some unknown reason did not like me. He would do things just to spite me, like jumping up on my side of the bed, and looking straight into my eyes, pee on my side of the bed, smile, and jump off. He would also wait until we had friends over, and would waddle into the family room, look me straight in the eyes again, and take a dump in front of everyone, even though he was housebroken. Our friends thought this was hilarious.

One morning my oldest son was out playing in the neighborhood, and an apparently abandoned Black Labrador puppy followed him home. After an honest attempt to find out whom he belonged to, we decided to keep him, and named him Blackie. He was a beautiful, intelligent and gentle dog. The three dogs all got along very well, and we had a happy household full of children and animals. Our youngest son had been born with Down Syndrome, and was in a good program for disabled children. In fact, we had moved to the house because of these programs. Unfortunately, the Powers That Be decided to disband our son’s programs (ostensibly to save money). This forced us to put our beloved home up for sale in order to move to an area that offered better educational opportunities for him. When the house sold, we moved to a rented town home in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. Although the town home complex was dog-friendly, we felt it would be too small for all of our animals. The parakeets had died, so they weren’t a problem. A bird lover, who had a houseful of exotic birds, adopted the cockatiel. A nice lady who loved rabbits took Roger.

This is the fateful moment when we upset the doggie cosmos – we decided to find new homes for Bud and Blackie. A very nice family, with young children, adopted both of them, and we felt we had found them the best possible home, even though we were heartbroken to give them up. We took Crash and the fish tanks with us.

I believe that leaving those two dogs behind is what has caused the Bad Doggie Karma that haunts me – and continues to haunt me – to this day…

The first strike of the bad doggie Karma happened like this: One day in the town home, I was sitting on the couch with Crash, with his head in my lap, having a pleasant afternoon – man and dog. Suddenly, with no warning, at the premature age of eight he had a terrible stroke. Rushing him to the Vet was of no avail. He had to be put to sleep. My wife couldn’t watch, but I was there with him up until the end, and I cried like a baby.

The second strike of the Bad Karma happened like this: I was so distraught I didn’t think of getting another dog – Crash was irreplaceable. But eventually, my need to have a dog overpowered my judgment, and I bought a one-year old Great Dane puppy from a supposedly reputable breeder, and named her Maggie. Maggie turned out to be so poorly socialized that she was afraid of everything, and I mean everything. She must have spent her entire first year locked up in a crate. One day, as my middle son raced through the living room, Maggie leapt off the couch and grabbed him by the arm; it was a very frightening experience for him to be grabbed by the arm by a 109-pound dog, and a terrifying one for me. That was it. I returned Maggie to the breeder, arguing that she had sold me a defective animal, and gave her back. The breeder refused to refund what I had paid for her, so I just left without making a fuss. (Passive/Compliant Johnnie strikes again!)

There were no dogs in the house until five years later, when my son bought me the Spotted Dog, whom I named Spot, of course – as a birthday present for my 50th birthday. He has been the third strike of the bad doggie Karma. Let me tell you about him:

Spot is the working field type of English Springer Spaniel; chosen because they are known to have more stable personalities than the pompous, elitist show dog type. We have had a love/hate relationship from the time he was about six-months old; when the bad doggie karma first channeled itself into the cute, adorable puppy – and he first bit me. He is a beautiful dog: a medium-sized sporting dog, with a compact body and a docked tail. His coat is white, with dark liver-colored spots, moderately long, and feathering on his legs, ears, and chest. Spot’s pendulous ears, soft gentle expression, sturdy build and friendly wagging tail tell you he is unmistakably a member of the ancient family of Spaniels. Spot stands proud and upstanding, body deep, with strong and muscular legs that carry him with ease. Taken as a whole, Spot has power, endurance and agility. He is a dog that can go, and keep going, even under difficult conditions. Just like the Bismarck, he has style, symmetry, balance and enthusiasm, combining beauty and utility.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Springer’s “beautiful and characteristic expression is alert, kindly, and trusting. The eyes, more than any other feature, are the essence of the Springer’s appeal. The typical Springer is friendly, eager to please, quick to learn and willing to obey. Aggression toward people and aggression toward other dogs is not in keeping with sporting dog character and purpose and is not acceptable.”

His “long-legged build makes him the fastest of the spaniels. He is a sociable dog that enjoys the company of children and handles the company of other pets well, except birds. An affectionate and easy-going family dog, he has an average lifespan of twelve to fourteen years. The English Springer Spaniel ranks 13th in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs. They love the water, and tend to get wet whenever they have the chance.”

“Descended from the Norfolk or Shropshire Spaniels of the mid-19th century, the breed has diverged into separate show and working lines. It is closely related to the Welsh Springer Spaniel and very closely with the English Cocker Spaniel. In fact less than a century ago, springers and cockers would come from the same litter. They are commonly used as sniffer dogs by various nations. The term springer comes from their historic hunting role, where the dogs would “spring” or “flush” birds into the air.”

Now, after reading all of that – forget it – when it comes to Spot, it’s mostly hogwash. Not the parts about his looks – he’s a fine looking dog – but about what lies within – the Bad Doggie Karma. Nine years later I still have him, although he has been close to death many, many times. The Spotted Dog is also known as: Cujo, The Beast, The Hound, Goofy, Scruffy, Scratchy, Licky, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and You F&*%$#@ S.O.B. (This last sobriquet being near to the truth) Like I said, he has almost had his “Old Yeller” moments many times, and probably would have if I owned a gun. (Of course, so would I, but it would be an “Old Feller” moment).

The bad doggie karma has infused itself into this dog – so much so that you sometimes don’t know which dog you have – the friendly, floppy-eared, eager to please, quick to learn and willing to obey dog (Dr. Jekyll); or the aggressive, crazy-eyed, mind of his own, obsessive dog (Mr. Hyde). One thing is for sure, however, he has become as dysfunctional as our home life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like this dog. I do not blame him for this curse of bad Karma – it is totally my fault – for giving up two lovely dogs, Bud and Blackie. Even though they were adopted into a fine home, I still feel as if I abandoned them – just like the story that begins this chapter. Spot has been a source of great amusement, even as he battles very hard not to let the bad doggie Karma rear its ugly head. For most of the time he is a good family dog, and very sweet. He loves company and other people, especially when they’ve made it into the house. He likes other dogs, but is mostly indifferent to them, unless he can manage to mount them – even though he was “fixed” as a puppy. I also think the two lesbian Vets who “fixed” him terrified him something awful, as he seems to be friendlier to men than to women. He is also very smart – in comparison to the other dogs I have had – he is the Albert Einstein of dogs. Let me illustrate what I am talking about…

Good Karma Dog

· Sometimes I feel like my shadow is leading me – Spot seems to anticipate what I am going to do, particularly indoors, and, from wherever he is – which is usually positioned to be able to keep at least one eye on me – he leaps up and beats me to where I’m going – the bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, etc. It is incredible how in-tune he is with me, like he has canine ESP.

· Spot loves to take long walks, car rides, have a smoothie at the local coffeehouse, and to meet new people. He likes other dogs, especially female, and turns into Goofy – all romantic and clumsy and stuff. He doesn’t mind cats – in fact he likes to play with ours – even though she is very nasty to him, all hissing and claws and fangs.

· We have a son with Down Syndrome living with us who is 25 now. Spot has never, in nine years, shown any negative behavior towards him. Some nights he even sleeps in my son’s room, and during the day when my son is home, likes to lie on his bed, curled up to take a dog nap, or maybe steal his lunch.

· Sometimes he can be a lovable mischief-maker. To illustrate my point about how smart he is, once when I was away on business, Spot decided he didn’t like me being gone, so he went through our stack of magazines and picked out only mine – the National Geographics, the Economists, the Time magazines, and chewed them all up. He left my Cara Mia’s Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens, and Redbook magazines completely alone – some still stacked in their place. When I think about it, it makes me wonder what a National Geographic magazine – or a roll of toilet paper for that matter, tastes like. (No, what you’re thinking will never happen unless you do it yourself)

· I like to listen to music, and so does Spot. Every time I listen to any music of Willie Nelson’s, Spot sits up and croons – actually more of a howl than a croon – but he loves Willie’s album “Pancho and Lefty”, which he hears in the car on the way to the park.

Bad Karma Dog

· If I retire for the night before my wife does, Spot positions himself in the doorway to our bedroom – and guards it with his life. I cannot tell you how many nights I have been rattled out of a deep sleep by The Hound – a growling, barking, snapping beast – and a shrieking, hollering, and hooting spouse. I have to get out of bed, break up the melee, and make sure my Butterfly of Love gets into bed safely. Sometimes during these incidents I am not so lucky – I find my wife on the floor, having fallen over the dog, with Spot underneath her, kicking, growling and snapping. At these times drastic measures must be taken, and I have to use my cane to separate the two of them. I will state unequivocally that I have never hit the Wind Beneath My Wings with my cane – only Spot. This seems to work well, as he has only bitten her four times.

· Dogs with long, pendulous ears tend towards having ear problems. Spot has chronic ear infections, which means his ears must be cleaned on a regular basis. Well, Spot doesn’t particularly care for this, nor does he care too much about grooming and brushing. After having been bitten a couple of times, I got wise and bought a muzzle to use during these fun family activities. If, and I say if, I can get the muzzle on him, I have to hold him with all my strength while my Beautiful Bride cleans his ears. During this time, Spot turns into Cujo and growls, foams at the mouth, tries to slip the muzzle, gets the evil eye, and generally acts like he wants to tear you apart and eat the pieces. (I’ve only ended up on the floor a couple of times, trying to fend him off), while my Sweetie waves my cane in the air, whooping and hollering. Once done, however, and the muzzle removed, he turns back into Snoopy immediately, wagging his tail and looking for “treats”. I’ve given up trying to groom him, thus the a.k.a.’s Scruffy, Scratchy, or Licky.

· I once tried to clean Spot’s ears by myself. Boy was that a mistake! He slipped the muzzle, and in our struggle for control, he bit me on both hands, on both my forearms – drawing blood – and on one leg. I, in turn, picked him up by one ear and gave him a stern lecture and a solid smack on the head. After we settled our differences, he went back into being Snoopy, waiting for his treats. I went looking for the antiseptic spray and lotion – and band-aids.

· At times Spot likes to sneak out the front door. He frequently outsmarts us and bolts out the door – across the street to the neighbor’s lawn, where the F&*%$#@ S.O.B. takes a dump, and then returns home. That means I have the embarrassing task of going outside, plastic bag in one hand, cane in the other, cross the street and pick up after him – usually with the neighbor eyeing me carefully from his front porch.

· We once took Spot to a local groomer to be given the first-class spa treatment. When we brought him in, he was all Dr. Jekyll – wagging his tail, licking the groomer’s face, and generally seeming to enjoy himself. We left expecting to come back and pick up a gorgeous, freshly quaffed Show Dog. Instead, twenty minutes later, we received a panicked phone call from the groomer; apparently Dr. Jekyll had turned into Mr. Hyde almost as soon as we had left. She pleaded that we come and pick him up, as it was impossible for her to work on him – he had bitten through his own tongue in the muzzle – and we rushed back and picked him up. As soon as we appeared, Mr. Hyde turned back into Dr, Jekyll – wagged his tail at the terrified (and apologetic) groomer, and returned home with him, where he expected his usual treats.

· And finally, anytime someone comes to the door, or walks on the sidewalk on the other side of the street, Spot turns into The Beast. From inside, it sounds like a barking, howling Beast is trying to claw his way out of a cage and get to the humans – from outside it terrifies our visitors. One lady, collecting money for Cancer Research asked me one time, “How many dogs do you have in there?” I told her just one – and then Spot outsmarted me and got past me through the front door. He then transformed from being The Beast to being Lassie – wagging his tail, smiling and sniffing around the poor lady – all the while peeing all over her shoes. I contributed to her cause and she thanked me. Spot went back into the house, and the lady went on her way – thoroughly confused by this strange occurrence. This happens all the time, every time someone comes to the door.

I could go on and on with stories about the Spotted Dog, but it’s 2:43 AM and I just had to take him out in a snowstorm, so I’m tired of talking about him. I’ll give him his treat, and then treat myself off to bed. There is just one other thing I’d like to say – and it puts this whole story in Universal perspective. There is a parable from Kahilil Gibran, which I think explains a lot about Life, and goes like this:

PEACE AND WAR

Three dogs were basking in the sun and conversing.

The first dog said dreamily, “ It is indeed wondrous to be living in this day of dogdom. Consider the ease with which we travel under the sea, upon the earth, and even in the sky. And meditate for a moment upon the invention brought forth for the comfort of dogs, even for our eyes and noses”.

And the second dog spoke and he said, “We are more heedful of the arts. We bark at the moon more rhythmically than did our forefathers. And when we gaze at ourselves in the water we see that our features are clearer than the features of yesterday”.

The third dog spoke and said, “But what interests me most and beguiles my mind is the tranquil understanding existing between dogdoms.” At that very moment they looked, and lo, the dog-catcher was approaching.

The three dogs sprang up and scampered down the street; and as they ran the third dog said, “For God’s sake, run for your lives. Civilization is after us”.

Civilization is after us all, isn’t it?

6 replies »

  1. Yes, I know of The Spotted Dog. I’ve had The Spotted Dog with his head laying in my lap letting me stroke his head and we were man and man’s best friend enjoying each other’s company. Then the old grey haired man with the bad knees went to bed and I later wanted to relieve myself. Having to go near the man’s bedroom I met The Spotted Dog in the hallway. The Spotted Dog was guarding the man’s bedroom and I thought I was going to have my leg chewed off to just take a pee.

  2. It stills makes chuckle how much Bud and I had in common! Of course it was never a matter of not liking, just wanting to get a rise out of you! … Never forget “is this it?” Dad you know what I’m talking about!

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