Frankenstein Heart

Shattered Photos

Broken bits honed in time

Tarnished and dented heart shaped box

Wrapped in scarred, weathered, leaking human leather

Living in a bramble of learned thorns and tangle of earned rusty barbed wire

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FUgly v.2

SOME PEOPLE ARE STILL ALIVE ONLY BECAUSE IT’S AGAINST THE LAW TO KILL’EM, so reads the sticker on a motorcycle helmet. Some sayings stick in your mind.

Like most days, the terrible ones start out and move along in the same old way… Until they tear your heart out and show it to you. January Seventh, Two Thousand Three, was one of those days. I came the closest I have ever been to punching a female in the face. I didn’t, but I still wrestle with my decision. Every time I share my twist on this experience I go into it knowing the risk, but then again anyone who thinks less of me for ‘this’ and cannot get over it, can go Ffff…. Kiss my Ass.

Years ago I discovered that I have “a bit of a temper.” It seems normal people get angry for a few hours: I get stuck there for a few days. I learned that it is nothing to be proud of and keeping it under control, is for the best. I also have a tendency toward being Vindictive, when properly motivated. These traits, combined with a good memory, create lasting residual demons that live in my head. The misfortune of this day lit my blood on fire, woke up these demons and let them out. Rage is not always a bad thing, we discovered that day.

Inadvertently, I walked Sarrah into a life-changing event, a fight she could not win. We were walking our typical after dark evening route, around the block across the street so as to utilize the sidewalks and streetlights. This night was like many others, nothing special. Walking on the time twisted concrete past a tall weathered wooden fence, a few old cars in a dark driveway and a scraggly hedge of overgrown rose bushes, put us directly in front of a winding narrow stone walkway to the open front door of a one story house. In the yard were two large dogs with thick fur, curled tails and huge heads. One was white, the other dark. With wide expressionless eyes, they immediately, quietly, came straight for us. Sarrah started to panic and kept turning quickly to look back and forth at them with bug eyes. I tried to speed up and keep her moving as they began to methodically circle us. A few steps later, the closest sniffed Sarrah for a few seconds and then with swift silence, sunk its teeth into her hindquarter and hung on. Quiet air filled with a wounded shriek and ongoing crying sounds of excruciating pain. With no thought, I attacked the Offending dogs. I quickly Kicked! the second dog as it was moving in, two maybe three times as hard as I could in the ribs and stomach. Thankfully, it just walked away. I then dropped to one knee, punching on my way down, kneeling I Hit, Hit, and Hit the attacking dog in the eye area five to ten times. I was probably yelling, I do not recall. It finally let go of its bite hold on Sarrah and walked away. I assume that these dogs were more confused than hurt and were probably just regrouping from their crazy human experience. It seems that the noise from all of this strife eventually woke up someone in the house, to get up off the couch near the doorway. This tall person filled the backlit doorway about twenty feet from the sidewalk and appeared to stagger around.

“Send me the bill.” That’s all that she said. The dogs turned and quietly came in at her command. We walked down the sidewalk a few yards, to get away from that house so I could look Sarrah over. A neighbor who had just driven home, hopped out of his pickup and yelled at her, “It Fuck’n Happened Again!” I checked Sarrah out, the bite was into muscle and bleeding, but she could walk. While looking her over I spoke with this stocky guy around my age, we talked a bit about what happened and then walked her home.

It was almost six o’clock when I started calling local vets. One answered and told me “We’re closed” and that they “could not help.” I replied, “Then why did you answer the phone?” and slammed it down. After a few calls and phonebook searching I found what I was not prepared for. My day ended with taking Sarrah into the vile blend of disinfectant and urine stained twenty-four hour emergency veterinary hospital in Auburn. It was deemed that they had to perform some torturous repairs and keep her overnight. I had to leave her in this concrete warehouse filled with caged cries and howls of despair.

Following a mostly sleepless night, I picked her up as early as I could the next morning. She was drugged and out of sorts, but greeted me with a lone tail thump. Her body was shaved of some white and black fur with three “ports” of perforated surgical tubing connecting the bite wounds under her pink and black skin, extending out each blood-caked oozing side and sutured in place. A far-away voice explained that this was done so that a disinfectant solution can be flushed thru with a syringe to clean them out, to avoid infection, as damage heals.  Sarrah’s glazed brown eyes closed as I carried her outside.

After I got her comfortable in the safety of her garage, I typed up a brief letter and returned to that house. No one answered the doorbell or knocking, so I taped it to the door and left. It read:

“Dear Akita Owner,

Please mail a reimbursement check (see attached) for the emergency veterinary work performed on my dog, due to the attack by your two dogs last evening. I will mail any subsequent bills incurred by this event.

This entire situation is unfortunate and disturbing as we were merely walking on the public sidewalk, obeying the leash laws. The vehicles in your driveway, combined with a lack of light made it impossible to see your unattended dogs until we were in front of your house—at which point they attacked.

For the future safety of all people and pets in our neighborhood, I hope that you no longer allow them to wander freely.

Sincerely,

Bryan Goffe”

An apology from them at this time would have just pissed me off, more.

I would rather live in a world where people take care of their own problems, not by simply punching three numbers on a phone. A favored saying of my friend Jeff is “Nobody likes a Squealer”, though I completely agree, I did. As I thought it over… Most people would not be dumb enough to fight with dogs, nor lucky enough to win. Anyone else walking Sarrah probably would have met with a different ending. Besides, years of experience on that street I had seen other dogs and kids walking them in the same area. I stewed on all of this for most of the day following the attack, argued with myself a little and then pulled the trigger. I decided that if another attack happened, whatever the outcome, it would “Be on Me”, so I broke my own rule and called.

That evening I answered the door for the Animal Control Officer, who to my surprise in our small town is also a Cop. She arrived in full police issue gear: jumpsuit, combat boots, vest, gun, handcuffs, pepper spray and all. I took her to Sarrah and told her what had happened, while she photographed the damage and made notes. She also strongly advised against fighting with dogs, suggested walking with pepper spray and something like a walking staff for the visual and physical defense as many times spray does not stop dogs in attack mode. Though not exactly how she advised, I have never walked unarmed, again. The officer was very sympathetic and nice to us, but she lied to me. As we spoke on the phone I stressed that I did not want the animals destroyed. But the instigator dog was confiscated later that night, detained for a few days of testing and then put down. Charges were filed. I also had no interest in pressing charges. I would have been okay with reimbursement, an official visit and the proverbial ‘slap in the face’ wakeup call that comes with it. I learned a valuable lesson; by making ‘the call’ I put our legal process in motion simply becoming part of “Citation No: 2003-096” and what I wanted, had nothing to do with it.

The process of flushing her ports two to three times per day for two weeks was excruciating, for me. I cannot imagine what it felt like for Sarrah, but she tried to stay still. I can’t imagine what she was thinking while I held her down and painfully cleaned her, but she seemed to know that I was helping her. Each time I got ready to clean her wounds she gave me a look that could tear a real human heart, if nothing else scar it. A few times this routine brought tears to my eyes, once vomit to the back of my tongue and always blood pressure that could kill. I held her and tried to comfort her after each cleaning, while my blood boiled.

The road of recovery also included a few trips to Sarrah’s regular veterinarian. She was never happy to go there, but whatever was done behind closed doors after the attack caused her to tremble when we went back. Even driving toward that general area caused her to be alarmed and wail, for the rest of her life.

The Animal Police Officer’s second lie came to light, I got subpoenaed for court. Being no stranger to court myself, mostly due to moments of youthful renegade wildness and heavy-footed tendencies, this was my first time as “Plaintiff”. I was not happy about being hauled into court twenty-nine days later, simply to say, “Yes, that is what I said happened.” People gathered in the large white overly lit silent courtroom, to wait in this place without windows and breathe controlled air. I sat on one of the hard dark wood benches in a section with people I recognized to be other residents of that street, including the guy who yelled at the woman that night. I guessed that these people were other witnesses to our trouble and possibly other problems. One quietly told me “Those dogs killed every pet we ever had.” Some of these people momentarily seemed a little pleased to be part of this event and offered solemn nods of approval.

The dogs belonged to arrogant examples of oxygen wasting beings; these average-looking middle-aged people were even a little cocky in the courtroom, talking with their eyes while sharing quick smirks and sarcastic grins before and after those in charge were paying attention. Court went very quickly. They plead guilty and said that they were “very sorry” in court, to the judge. More to my satisfaction we all heard the list of court ordered matters of compliance that these people were to do to keep their other dog:

  • Reimburse me, (which they already had done).
  • Rebuild their backyard fence, updating it to adequately contain “a potentially dangerous animal”.
  • Post a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign on the front of their house.
  • Muzzle their dog when walking it.
  • No one under eighteen would be allowed to walk their dog.
  • I think there was a fine as well, but I do not recall.

The scars that we carried with us after the battle with the dogs and their people, changed us. Sarrah’s physical scar tissue bothered her hip, even after time had passed. Massage could not completely remove the residual damage. Sarrah’s mental scar faded, faster than mine. After she healed, we did walk around that block, on the other side of the street, Armed, eventually Sarrah was no longer afraid of that area. We had a point to prove, I had a best friend to heal, and potential for who knows… Later I did forgive the dogs, after all they are genetically bred to quietly stalk and kill. But I did not, will not forgive their people. My mental scar still glows brightly, if something makes me focus on it. Mine is rage-based loathing for ignorant animals, in human form.

In fairness, Officer Jan is a good person who deeply cares for animals. She told me what I wanted to hear so that she could do her job and what she believed needed to be done. I am certain that she would be much happier if the actions of Dumb Animals would stop requiring their pets to be “destroyed.”

After a year or so of blatantly ignoring the court ordered requirements with in your face demonstrations (they were too lazy to walk often, so this was no big deal to me). I heard about another problem near that address. Their remaining dog attacked a Labrador Retriever being walked by a mother, carrying her baby in a papoose carrier. The woman was knocked down and her dog was hurt. History repeated and that Akita was put down, too. Soon after these idiots sold their house and moved away. Hopefully some kind of poetic shape shifting happened, trading places of sorts with these dogs and their humans.

Around this time, at the end of each day; before I went to bed I would say “Good Night” to Sarrah. In addition to normal evening chores, I rubbed her ears, touched my forehead to hers and whispered, “Every Day is a Gift.”

* * *

I decided to post this improved version of FUgly (I added [DRAFT] to the title of my first version).  It made sense to me to have both versions for those interested in comparing them.  This improved version came after having the group of writers that I spend Tuesday evenings with, “Workshop” it (read it in their spare time and have a group discussion on its strengths and weaknesses).  This discussion and the returned copies with their notes helped me rework this chapter using some better words and sentences to weave in more details that living in the eye-of-that-storm makes it hard for me to see objectively.  I did leave most of my usual ‘bent literary rules’… such as using Capital letters mid-sentence, to make words Bigger.

I’m sure this new version will continue to evolve… as I learn.

Reckoning Freedom

Having spent most of my almost half-century of living in the Pacific Northwest has given me the experience of watching people crowd into an area.

Observing as humans wade through the economic tides and refine the process of developing land, starting with the easiest and taking steps into the more difficult and less desired parcels.

A sort of reckoning takes place.  No change goes unpunished. Our natural environment has evolved over time into one that had its way of dealing with rainfall.  As human needs replace what was, weather dictates what will be.  The more hilly earth becomes smooth and paved, the more concentrated needs become for dealing with excess water when the rains fall.

An evolving complex formula has come about for building water retention sites.  These man-made ponds are camouflaged scars to the earth.  Displaying some examples of human bargaining with a blend of indigenous “natural plant-life” (cattails, grasses and trees) for wildlife and often some kind of appeal offering to the local payer of taxes (landscaping, trails and/or a park) to gain the right to develop, creating monuments to appease the gods of rain.  These places of reckoning are hotly debated for long periods of time, constructed relatively quickly, celebrated briefly and then quietly slide into being largely ignored.  Not Sarrah, she always spotted these places of reckoning and insisted that we investigate.

Two of these places evolved nearby in Sarrah’s lifetime.

The first one is located at the low point of a community college campus hidden behind a tennis court; it has a labyrinth of paved trails through trees and a bridge over the fluctuating pond.  I recall reading that some college classes were involved in the layout designing and choosing plantings, some studies probably continue.

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Another was constructed so that a three-field baseball park could be flat and dry.  This park is behind our re-located local Post Office.  The land was probably swampy pasture with some scrub trees and blackberry bushes before our International Airport grew making it too noisy for human habitation.  This water management creation has a fenced-in small pond, a rocky “dry river bed” and a much larger water retention pond below (we saw it seasonally dry out and fill to the top).  At times a choir of frogs fills the air with hypnotic notes.  The trails here are simple paths worn in the grass by shortcutting kids and dogs with people.

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When Sarrah discovered this place it became part of going to get my mail, the best part.

If it were up to Sarrah we would explore both of these typically quiet places on the same day, when freedom from commitments allowed, we did.

The less I Understand

Like an early morning drunk, after having sat all night at a gaming table in the dark corner of a garish smoke stained casino, it seems that I had played this game too long.  Perhaps like most games, if you are distracted in the process of playing them well and lose track of time, you will eventually lose.  I guess sooner or later we all lose, Everything.

To borrow yet again from Don Henley, in his song The Heart of the Matter “The more I Know, The less I Understand” rings true for me, again.  Our dispiriting American economic meltdown also known as “The Great Recession” started for me and much of the residential real estate construction related world, in the fall of Two Thousand Eight.  My customer base was exclusively new construction driven and all caught up in the terminal economic tsunami.  I had earned a decent living for years prior to this carelessly fueled real estate lending boom, rode the waves along with the new “gold rush feverists” throwing up not so little boxes on the hill side and now continue to struggle in the rip tide with those who remain.  Most people that I know were greatly financially impacted, many were annihilated.  All have been battle scarred.  And the nightmare is far from over.

FUgly [DRAFT]

SOME PEOPLE ARE STILL ALIVE ONLY BECAUSE IT’S AGAINST THE LAW TO KILL’EM, so reads the sticker on a motorcycle helmet.  Some old sayings stick in your mind.

Like most days, the terrible ones start out and move along in the same old way… Until! January Seventh, Two Thousand Three, was one of those days. I came the closest I have ever been to punching a female in the face. I didn’t, but I still wrestle with my decision. Every time I share my twist on this experience I go into it knowing the risk, but then again anyone who thinks less of me for ‘this’ and cannot get over it, can go Ffff…. Kiss my Ass.

Years ago I discovered that I have “a bit of a temper”. I learned that it is nothing to be proud of and keeping it under control, is for the best. I also have a tendency toward being Vindictive, when properly motivated. These traits, combined with a good memory, create lasting residual demons that live in my head. The misfortune of this day lit my blood on fire, woke up these demons and let them out. Rage is not always a bad thing, we discovered that day.

Inadvertently, I walked Sarrah into a life-changing event, a fight she could not win. We were walking our typical after dark evening route, around the block across the street so as to utilize the sidewalks and streetlights. This night was like many others, nothing special. Walking past a tall weathered wooden fence, then a few old cars in a dark driveway and a scraggily hedge of overgrown rose bushes, put us directly in front of a winding narrow stone walkway to the open front door of a one story house. In the yard were two large dogs with thick fur, curled tails and huge heads. One was white, the other dark. With wide expressionless eyes, they immediately, quietly, came straight for us. Sarrah started to panic and kept turning quickly to look back and forth at them with bug eyes. I tried to speed up and keep her moving as they began to methodically circle us. A few steps later, the closest sniffed Sarrah for a few seconds and then with swift silence, sunk its teeth into her hind quarter and hung on. Quiet air filled with a wounded shriek and constant crying sounds of excruciating pain. With no thought, I attacked the Offending dogs. I quickly Kicked! the second dog as it was moving in, two maybe three times as hard as I could in the ribs and stomach. Thankfully, it just walked away. I then dropped to one knee, punching on my way down, kneeling I Hit, Hit, and Hit the attacking dog in the eye area five to ten times. I was probably yelling, I do not recall. It finally let go of its bite hold on Sarrah and walked away. I assume that these dogs were more confused than hurt and were probably just regrouping from their crazy human experience. It seems that the noise from all of this strife eventually woke up someone in the house, to get up off the couch near the doorway. This person appeared in the backlit doorway to be a drunken lazy, bitch. I don’t blame the alcohol, I blame the bitch.

When it was over, she staggered around her front door, about twenty feet from the sidewalk, and from there said “Send me the bill”, that’s all that she said. Her dogs came in as she called and we walked down the sidewalk a few yards, to get away from that house so I could look Sarrah over. A neighbor who had just driven home, got out of his car and yelled at her, “It Fuck’n Happened Again!” I checked Sarrah out, the bite was into muscle and bleeding, but she could walk. I spoke with him a bit and walked her home.

It was almost six o’clock when I started calling local vets. One answered and told me “We’re closed” and that “they could not help”, I replied, “Then why did you answer the phone?” and slammed it down. After a few calls and phonebook searching I found what I was not prepared for. My day ended with taking Sarrah into the vile blend of disinfectant and urine stained twenty-four hour emergency veterinary hospital in Auburn. It was deemed that they had to perform some torturous repairs and keep her overnight. I had to leave her in this concrete warehouse filled with caged cries and howls of despair.

Following a mostly sleepless night, I picked her up as early as I could the next morning. She was drugged and out of sorts, but greeted me with a lone tail thump. Her body was shaved of some white and black fur with three “ports” of perforated surgical tubing connecting the bite wounds under her pink and black skin, extending out each blood-caked oozing side and sutured in place. A far-away voice explained that this was done so that a disinfectant solution can be flushed thru with a syringe to clean them out, to avoid infection, as damage heals.  Her glazed brown eyes closed as I carried her outside.

After I got her comfortable in the safety of her garage, I typed up a brief letter and returned to that house. No one answered the doorbell and knocking, so I taped it to the door and left. It read:

 

“Dear Akita Owner,

Please mail a reimbursement check (see attached) for the emergency veterinary work performed on my dog, due to the attack by your two dogs last evening. I will mail any subsequent bills incurred by this event.

This entire situation is unfortunate and disturbing as we were merely walking on the public sidewalk, obeying the leash laws. The vehicles in your driveway, combined with a lack of light made it impossible to see your unattended dogs until we were in front of your house—at which point they attacked.

For the future safety of all people and pets in our neighborhood, I hope that you no longer allow them to wander freely.

Sincerely,

Bryan Goffe”

An apology from them at this time would have just pissed me off, more.

I would rather live in a world where people take care of their own problems, not by simply punching three numbers on a phone. A favored saying of my friend Jeff is “Nobody likes a Squealer”, though I completely agree, I did. As I thought it over… Most people would not be dumb enough to fight with dogs, nor lucky enough to win. Anyone else walking Sarrah probably would have met with a different ending. Besides, years of experience with that street had shown me that other dogs and kids walking them was a typical, regular occurrence. I stewed on all of this for most of the day following the attack, argued with myself a little and then pulled the trigger. I decided that if another attack happened, whatever the outcome, it would “Be on Me”, so I broke my own rule and called.

That evening I answered the door for the Animal Control Officer, who to my surprise in our small town is also a Cop. She arrived in full police issue gear: jumpsuit, combat boots, vest, gun, handcuffs, pepper spray and all. I took her to Sarrah and told her what had happened, while she photographed the damage and made notes. She also strongly advised against fighting with dogs, suggested walking with pepper spray and something like a walking staff for the visual and physical defense as many times spray does not stop dogs in attack mode. Though not exactly how she advised, I have never walked unarmed, again. The officer was very sympathetic and nice to us, but she lied to me. As we spoke on the phone I stressed that I did not want the animals destroyed. But the instigator dog was confiscated later that night, detained for a few days of testing and then put down. Charges were filed. I also had no interest in pressing charges. I would have been OK with reimbursement, an official visit and the proverbial ‘slap in the face’ wakeup call that comes with it. I learned a valuable lesson; by making ‘the call’ I put our legal process in motion simply becoming part of “Citation No: 2003-096” and what I wanted, had nothing to do with it.

The process of flushing her ports two to three times per day for two weeks was excruciating, for me. I cannot imagine what it felt like for her, but she tried to stay still. I can’t imagine what she was thinking while I held her down and painfully cleaned her, but she seemed to know that I was helping her. Each time I got ready to clean her wounds she gave me a look that could tear a real human heart, if nothing else scar it. A few times this routine brought tears to my eyes, once vomit to the back of my tongue and always blood pressure that could kill. I held her and tried to comfort her after each cleaning, while my blood boiled.

The road of recovery also included a few trips to Sarrah’s regular veterinarian. She was never happy to go there, but whatever was done behind closed doors after the attack caused her to tremble when we went back. Even driving toward that general area caused her to be alarmed and wail, for the rest of her life.

The Animal Police Officer’s second lie came about, I got subpoenaed for court. Being no stranger to court myself, mostly due to moments of youthful renegade wildness and heavy-footed tendencies, this was my first time as “Plaintiff”. I was not happy about being hauled into court, simply to say, “Yes, that is what I said happened”. People gathered in the large white overly lit silent courtroom, to wait in this place without windows and breathe controlled air. I sat on one of the hard dark wood benches in a section with people I recognized to be other residents of that street, including the guy who yelled at the woman that night. I guessed that these people were other witnesses to our trouble and possibly other problems. One quietly told me “Those dogs killed every pet we ever had.” Some of these people momentarily seemed a little pleased to be part of this event and offered solemn nods of approval.

These dogs belonged to arrogant examples of oxygen wasting beings; these people were even a little cocky in the courtroom, before and after those in charge were paying attention. Court went very quickly. They plead guilty and said that “They were very sorry” in court, to the judge. More to my satisfaction we all heard the list of court ordered matters of compliance that these people were to do to keep their other dog:

  • Reimburse me, (which they already had done)
  • Rebuild their backyard fence, updating it to adequately contain “a potentially dangerous animal”
  • Post a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign on the front of their house
  • Muzzle their dog when walking it
  • No one under eighteen would be allowed to walk their dog
  • I think there was a fine as well, but I do not recall

The scars that we carried with us after the battle with the dogs and their people, changed us. Sarrah’s physical scar tissue bothered her hip, even after time had passed. Massage could not completely remove the residual damage. Sarrah’s mental scar faded, faster than mine. After she healed, we did walk around that block, on the other side of the street, Armed, eventually Sarrah was no longer afraid of that area. We had a point to prove, I had a best friend to heal, and potential for who knows… Later I did forgive the dogs, after all they are genetically bred to quietly stalk and kill. But I did not, will not forgive their people. My mental scar still glows brightly, if something makes me focus on it. Mine is rage-based loathing for ignorant animals, in human form.

In fairness, Officer Jan is a good person who deeply cares for animals. She told me ‘what I wanted to hear’ so that she could do her job and what she believed ‘needed to be done’. I am certain that she would be much happier if the actions of Dumb Animals would stop requiring their pets to be “destroyed”.

After a year or so of blatantly ignoring the court ordered requirements with in your face demonstrations (they were too lazy to walk often, so this was no big deal to me). I heard about another problem near that address. Their remaining dog attacked a Labrador Retriever being walked by a mother, carrying her baby in a papoose carrier. The woman was knocked down and her dog was hurt. History repeated and that Akita was put down, too. Soon after these idiots sold their house and moved away. Hopefully some kind of poetic shape shifting happened, trading places of sorts with these dogs and their humans.

Around this time, at the end of each day; before I went to bed I would say “Good Night” to Sarrah. In addition to normal evening chores, I rubbed her ears, touched my forehead to hers and whispered, “Every Day is a Gift”.

 

 

Puppy Shenanigans

From the beginning Sarrah did not like to be alone.  She could hear me upstairs working, instead of playing with her, and howled most of the day in a display of what I was told is called “Separation Anxiety”.   For such a little being she could make the loudest most heart breaking howls, for hours at a time.  She would wail, most of the day, while I tried to ignore her and worked.  Creating a habit, I started taking many breaks to spend time a little time with her; she rewarded me with clumsy excitement and delight.  Leah eventually tried a prescription for this anxiety, but gave up on it.  As like many issues there is not a magic pill cure-all.

Sarrah did not like to be outside, alone.  She insisted that I join her!  She actually delighted in being outside, but solitude was not a friend to her.  When the weather was less than wonderful, she wanted nothing to do with it, alone.  She would sit by the door and whine.  If joined she would rally a little, at least long enough to take care of business and inspect the grounds.  In an effort to make the backyard more suitable for Sarrah I got her a ‘doghouse’, one of those nice modern two-piece molded plastic types resembling those in the monopoly game.  It was a larger version of the ‘cat condo’ that was frequently used and greatly appreciated by Tux and Simon.  Apparently it never became hers, as Sarrah rarely used the little house, so it was merely a place to store her toys and clutter the deck.

I knew nothing about Dalmatians’ except for that they make a good draw for a children’s story.  It turns out that they are a high maintenance, high-energy breed of dog.  They require lots of attention and outlets for this energy (or they will destroy whatever they find), at least in the case of Sarrah.  She chewed, dug and clawed her way through many material possessions in her youth.  Later, I saw part of dog show on television claiming that they were bred to trot under horse drawn carriages ten to fifteen miles per day in defense of the horses and people.  This explains a need for exercise, fierce loyalty to chosen humans, intrigue with large animals and aggression toward other threats.

After a few weeks Sarrah discovered a way to preoccupy herself, without howling.  At first I was relieved and happy, for both of us.  Then I heard a strange digging sound and went downstairs to investigate.  The little monster was sitting down while feverishly scratching a hole in the sheetrock, another hole, in a series of them.  It became my evening activity to mud the damages of the day, to keep the little beast from digging all the way through the wall.  She gave up on this evil obsession, after a few months.

Sarrah had an appetite for destruction.  Her first “cute dog bed” lasted less than fifteen unsupervised minutes.  Sarrah discovered the delightful white fluff inside made for a good tug-of-war opponent, thru a nipped hole.  This synthetic fluffy stuffing was everywhere!  I gathered it up and stuffed it back in the hole from which it came.  The next morning it was mostly all pulled out again.  I reinstalled the filling again, and again.  This game lasted a few days until the bed finally gave up holding together and was tossed into the trash.

Leah special ordered a personalized engraved dog tag; it lasted less than eight hours, becoming a mangled bit (leaving what she couldn’t get to) of red and white plastic that now said “—rah”.

Tennis balls were quickly plucked bald, giving way to yet another mess and green fuzzy dog turds.  She would go crazy with these balls; grip them with her paws, chew and pull in a mesmerized frenzy that didn’t end until her mission was complete.  At least they were intended targets for destruction and easily replaced.

Despite a huge growing collection of toys; balls, bones and things that squeaked (for the approximate ten minutes that it took to tear out ‘the squeaker’) Sarrah seemed to prefer boring, regular everyday ‘around the house’ things to chew on.

For some reason Sarrah discovered a taste, an insatiable appetite, a gnawing fetish for… footwear.  She liked all kinds, new and old; chewy flip-flops’, tasty backed sneakers and the delightful tug of war promised by bootlaces.  Since we live with the household ‘no shoe’ policy, there is always a plentiful source, by each entrance to the house.  She would chew at least one of each pair, before time willing, going back for the second unmolested shoe.  The unexplained desire to chew off the back of the heel of sneakers and running shoes, rendering them useless, was exceptionally irritating.  Bootlaces are fairly inexpensive, but are not an easily obtained important part of the early morning workday.  I recall that she finally gave up her footwear compulsion after a couple of years and could finally be trusted to leave them alone.

One warm day, while taking a break I went into the kitchen to get some water.  I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye, and again, and again.  Each time I moved closer to see what was going on…it was flying dirt!  As I got to the sliding door, all that I could see was her hind end sticking up out of the ground.  Her tail wagged in a staccato that would impress a Jazz musician, as it kept time with the small explosions of dirt flying out of the hole in the ground, the current hole in the ground.  My once prized backyard looked like old war footage with holes throughout.  When she heard me open the sliding door, the dirt covered little terrorist came running over delighted in discovering her new digging skills and the endless supply of nice flat ground to practice on.  I filled them in, scolded her and went back to work.  I checked on her later and repeated my steps.  We did this frequently for days, weeks and months.

Fortunately Sarrah was only out when the weather cooperated and she did not like that I buried her ‘bio-hazard land mines’ that she left, in the new holes and eventually stopped digging.  My yard hasn’t been “perfect” (nor will it ever be again) since Sarrah showed me that ‘there is more to life’.

As the clumsy puppy grew more coordinated and discovered her birthright for speed, the backyard became an amusing ‘Speckle-job Speedway’.  The little black and white blur made for contrasting excitement.  She discovered that running a figure-eight pattern allowed for limitless distance and honed her skills at banking, in either direction.  She would hole-shot launch from zero to fifteen plus miles per hour, sometimes after the cats, but often for no apparent reason at all other than perhaps burn off steam or just to show off.  If the cause was High Speed pursuit of the cats, they quickly evaded and would taunt her from safe vantage points of the fence, smirking as she went wild with crazy puppy excitement.

Sarrah would instantaneously takeoff running on the deck that runs the length of the house; her gouging toenails would add yet more scars to the wood.  As Sarrah got stronger, she began to jump up onto the built-in bench.  It seems that Sarrah had learned a few tricks from Tux and Simon; she would sit and lay on the bench for sunshine, view advantage and I think mostly to pose, like a cat.  In time, with practice the bench began to serve as a launch platform into the yard, adding to her range for flight and to the collection of toenail scars.  Soon after she began to shoot under the bench at full speed, so often that she permanently wore the hair off of a small area on her chest from deck friction.  As the scars in wood fade into seasoned marks of character and distinction sealed between coats of stain, they become preserved reminders that ‘Sarrah was here’.

When Sarrah was old enough, Leah enrolled her in an obedience class.  She returned after the first class beaming with all kinds of pride because “Sarrah was the best behaved in the class” and everyone was so impressed with her mellow demeanor and cooperation.  I could not believe it!  After the second class, Leah came home in a huff.  Sarrah’s true colors came out and she was a disruptive menace causing many problems with the others, as she never really liked other dogs.  I laughed, that’s the Sarrah I knew!  The next class was their last.  The instructor asked them not to return.  Perhaps a lack of practice and homework was a part of the downfall of Sarrah’s school days (Huck Finn would’ve been proud).  Sarrah always seemed to be a quite, mellow observer until she knew enough of the situation and was comfortable enough to fly her real colors.

In addition to dealing with behavioral matters, there were other adjustments to my home.  Dalmatians have hair, not really much for fur.  This hair is like short little pins that they constantly shed, which in turn persistently stick into all things made of fabric and static cling to everything else.  The blend of white, black and gray hairs ensures that some will be noticed, regardless of clothing color.  I used to say; with a bit of disgust “I’ll be finding her hair, everywhere, for the rest of my life!”  Now I say to myself with a tinge of repose “I’ll be finding her hair, everywhere, for the rest of my life”.

Through the times of Mayhem and Destruction, I made a discovery or at least a bit of dark humor.  I began to joke, “The reason puppies are so Cute, is so that you don’t kill them!”  Sarrah caused many moments of all consuming anger, but I suppose the fault ultimately lies with the humans responsible for the situations.  She won me over with affection, made me laugh and earned forgiveness for those issues that became less significant.

Fortunately I salvaged some of the ‘dog bite enhanced’ items (moving blanket, flip-flops, pull start handles, misc. wooden handled tools, extension cords, etc.  These “damaged items” are new ‘signs of life’ or souvenirs’ (aka. Gifts) proof that I am able to live with less than perfect material things and am actually a little proud of it.