friday faves - dog days

I like to think of myself as a kind, benevolent human being, but sometimes I can come off quite the opposite, particularly on weary, frustrated, angry or sorrowful days. Saturday was a good example.

Friday night Calvin got his first dose of what would have been considered his ninth antiepileptic drug except that he’s tried this one before, when he was just two. And as sick as the idea makes me, since there doesn’t seem to be any other choice, he’s now on three powerful anticonvulsant drugs since his seizures keep inching their way back up.

Saturday, gorgeous warm weather invited the two of us outside, Calvin in denim shorts and a striped polo, me in a pair of clam-diggers—my holey jeans rolled up mid-calf—scuffing around in orange flip-flops and a sleeveless white cotton blouse. It must have been eighty. Much to my chagrin, Calvin stumbled around the yard as if the world was spinning (no doubt for him it was.) As he toppled and tripped, tumbled and tipped, I caught him with a bent knee, an outstretched arm or a yank on his harness. He looked like a boy who’d just jumped off of one of those kid-powered merry-go-rounds with the elbow-shaped handles you spin around on until you get dizzy—or sick. Except his dizziness was because of the drugs. So, rather than torturing both of us any further I loaded Calvin into the stroller, clipped Rudy on the leash and headed for campus.

Folks were out in droves—students, teachers, a bride and groom, their guests, families, dogs and squirrels—enjoying the balmy weather. Calvin sat calmly sucking his thumb and poking the bejeezus out of his eyes. We happened upon a familiar dog named Bella with her kind elderly owner. The college allows dogs to roam freely so the two old dogs played like a couple of puppies while her owner and I chatted.

Rudy spotted another dog nearby. This one, a stout, unfixed male yellow lab, was restrained on a taught harness. As Rudy happily—harmlessly—approached, the owner tugged on the harness raising his dog’s front paws just off the ground. After initial sniffs, the dog attacked. Rudy barked back before retreating. “Go away!” the wife of the owner scolded Rudy in an annoying tone while pointing a witchy finger, as if he were the trouble maker. I called for Rudy and he came.

“He needs to be on a leash,” she barked.
“I saw your dog initiate,” I replied confidently, “Rudy is friendly, just wanted to say hi.”
“Then he’s gonna get attacked sometimes,” the man added crossly, keeping the choke hold on his stupid, jerky macho dog.

All I could do was roll my head in an exaggeratedly apathetic manner. As the three of us sauntered away the couple kept yakking at my back. I punctuated my disgust of their sour spirit with an implied fart in their general direction, figured it'd have more of an effect than flipping them the bird. My outward composure remained calm but inside my heart was pounding with ire at these wretchedly abrasive people.

As we walked home I thought of things I wished I’d said. You should think about cutting off some balls, I imagined saying or, grow some neuticles, or you’re just jealous of my well-behaved dog. Perhaps I should have stamped my forehead—using my thumb and index finger—with the shape of a capital “L”: LOSERS! I was in the mood to pick a fight, perhaps get into a brawl with the wife—pull some hair, scratch some eyeballs out—wanted to insult their stupid-ass kid who just stood there gawking. I nearly looped back around to intercept them and give them a piece of my mind.

But in my seething fury I remembered something my mother-in-law wisely says, don’t get into a pissing contest with a skunk. I laughed to myself, my petty anger dissolving away, bent down and kissed Calvin, pet Rudy on the head and kept on strolling. And when we got to the corner a half block from home, Calvin adorably squealed with delight knowing we were almost there. I smiled.

Version originally published 10.10.11.

photo by Michael Kolster


  1. Ah yes, I've encountered a skunk this week and will take that advice to heart.