April 21, 2015 | by Mark McDonald
Held Hostage by a Dog

An Open Letter to a Pup’s Godparents

By the Editor
Dear Sally and Tom,

While liberating this future field-trial champion from your litter yesterday, I forgot to ask for shot records, his union card and country club membership. Come to think of it, don’t bother.

Pup uses tree limb for dental floss.

Pup uses tree limb for dental floss.

During the drive from Dallas to TallTown, the 8-week-old set of needle teeth gave five hours of broad hints as to his lineage: He chewed on my hands, my ears, my cap, the steering wheel and the gear shift knob. Chief object of his affection, however, was a wicker basket specially prepared for his journey. He tried to eat it.

Last night, the pup celebrated his first night away from his littermates with a 2 a.m. wee-wee dance on our hardwood floors, followed at 4 by a private poopee party on The Matriarch’s favorite den rug. For a visual, think Kappa Sig rush party. Artistic in every way, this masterpiece would have Vincent Van Gough quit the paint brush for a tennis racquet.

Innovative in design and aromatic, this assault on the senses sent his bleary-eyed caddy to the kitchen cabinet groping for emergency clean-up supplies. Tile cleaner … no … wood polish … no … dishwater detergent … no again. Hand soap … nope. Perhaps you could recommend a industrial strength product? I need something under the label “Nuclear Dawg Shit Remover.”

Hungry for protein, pup turns to the nearest source.

Hungry for protein, pup turns to the nearest source.

Now fully empty and pleased with his work, the pup looked for new worlds to conquer. Didn’t take long. I had no idea a dog’s sleeping pads had so many government labels. And who knew that yanking and tugging would produce such a satisfying shreds? Soon enough, my toothy terrorist will learn that in 14 states, removing these labels is a felony.

We all envision this pup growing into 75 pounds of valued field companion, an all-star retriever of dove and pheasant, with a keen nose for endangered species, such as quail and honest Senators. Lofty goals require commitment. The pup must watch his diet. This morning, wunderdog eschewed a bowl full of overly engineered, over-priced Science Diet Puppy Blend, Large Breed in favor of his breakfast of champions — human flesh. Nothing, it seems, gets a pup’s day kick-started quite like sinking his teeth into the chewy goodness of my bare toes.

Nothing with straps is safe, not even the camera bag.

Nothing with straps is safe, not even the camera bag.

If, after reviewing these clues, there might be any room left for doubt, the pup’s background was fully revealed an hour ago. He happily walked past a stack of squeaky, gummy, ridiculously expensive store-bought chew-toys, and started gnawing on the corner of our brick home. Yep. He’s a Lab.

Thanks mucho for sending me home with the handbook on how a puppy trains his master. This dog sees me for a slow study, but so far, “A Dog in Hand: Teaching Your Puppy to Think,” by Dr. George Gates, DVM (Tapestry Press, 144 pages, 2003, $19.95), has been most helpful. I squeezed in a chapter or two early this morning, between feedings, cleanups, and answering the door to explain the yelping hoo-haw to neighbors. Maybe I overlooked a chapter, the one entitled “Surviving the Teeth – Containing the Carnage of Canine Commandos.”

If I may prevail on you with one last request, kindly advise in giving this fuzzy ball of teeth a name. Here are our leaders in the clubhouse:

In the absence of human flesh, pup tries to eat a tree.

In the absence of human flesh, pup tries to eat a tree.

Bogey – A bad thing, always waiting to happen.

Miner – In honor of the only alma mater I will ever have, UTEP, Oxford on the Interstate. Our rumdum mascot, Paydirt Pete, didn’t make the finals.

B-52 – A serious bomber, this pup carries a heavy payload.

Klozer – Every good pitching staff needs one.

Jhihadist – A mutt on a misguided mission of evil.

Overbite – Tooth imprints on my ankles prove it.

En route from Dallas to West Texas, needed his rest. Takes a lot of energy to eat a steering wheel and a gear shift.

En route from Dallas to West Texas, needed his rest. Takes a lot of energy to eat a steering wheel and a gear shift.

Lawyer – Fill in the blank.

Queso – Everybody likes cheese. Ask yourself, what’s better than cheese? Only melted cheese.

Napper – Tending to the pup every three hours at night, I could use a nap right about now. We all could.

Blocker – At long last, it would be nice to finally have one in this house. Old football teammates have waited long enough.

And to think you once had eight of these creatures? I’ll put in the good word for you with St. Peter. Meantime, put yourself in for a pay raise. You deserve it.

(signed,)
Pup Caddy
TallTown, Texas

{Editor Mark McDonald is the author of six non-fiction books, none that have lost money nor won the Pulitzer Prize. His latest work on the perils of youth sports – “They Gave Us Baseball: Now Look What We’ve Done” – reaches a breathlessly awaiting public later this year.}

Pup must be a literary critic. He gets wildly excited by good writing.

Pup must be a literary critic. He gets wildly excited by good writing.

 

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