Daddy came home today, said it was a beautiful day, and told us we were going for a quick walk at the State Mental Hospital. “Watch out for the ticks!” Mommy said. I am more worried about the moaners and the twitches but if Mommy doesn’t like ticks that’s OK too.
“She means the blood sucking parasites,” Foley said.
“Her kids are going to be there!” I asked excitedly.
But no, she meant the little back bug that crawls on us, bites, and holds on. Mommy doesn’t like us walking anywhere there may be ticks. Mommy would prefer us to go on a walk in a scorched nuclear wasteland 20 years after the last bomb fell.
Daddy assured her that we would be careful and we were off. Daddy started out carrying us on the sidewalk because he’s nervous when we walk near the road. Then we were at the entrance of the hospital, he put us down, and I did my favorite thing. I ran.
I ran back and forth over the sweet green grass tickling my piggy toes. Foley ran too, like Big Papi trying to beat out a bunt. I could only run as far as the flexi leash would let me but that was fine with me. I started pretending I was Daddy’s boyhood dog Barney.
He lived in the 70’s when the drugs were cheap, love was free, and so were dogs, to roam where they choose. Barney was a mutt’s mutt. The Animal Control Officer, who was quite familiar with Barney, thought he was 30% bear. They said he was one of a kind, but it being the age of love the one you’re with, by the time Barney went to the bridge, he had created his own breed.
I have heard lots of Barney stories. Barney used to drive Daddy’s Mom crazy, she was so afraid he would knock a child of a bike (he did); get picked up by the police (he did); get run over (he did, and survived) and steal from the neighbors that she spent lots more time worrying about him than enjoying him.
One day Daddy was playing basketball in his driveway when he looked up the street and saw Barney dragging a bag in his mouth. Daddy’s house was at the bottom of a hill and Barney picked up speed heading downward, and stopped at Daddy’s feet dropping a 50 pound bag of Doggychow he had stolen from mean Mr. Medas’ garage at his feet.
Barney looked up at Barney and said: “See, I don’t’ need you, I can feed myself.” Then they both heard a roar and looked up to see old square headed Mr. Medas raging towards them. The bag had ripped open as Barney dragged it out of his garage, and the half mile home, and Mr. Medas was following the trail of kibble, stepping on it, crunch, crunch, crunch, as he drew closer.
“Gotta go!” Barney said as he ran off into the woods.
“Me too!” Daddy said as he followed.
Daddy’s Mommy was so upset about the dog food incident, she had to buy mean Mr. Medas a new bag, and she was sure the family was the talk of the neighborhood. She never had been a dog person, and when Barney crossed the bridge, another dog never spent a night under her roof.
Now Daddy’s Mommy has a favorite brother named Skippy and Skippy is married to Aunt Betty. (Oh Aunt Betty isn’t her real name. We are protecting her identity, but Uncle Skippy’s name is really Skippy. Any 80 year old man who is still named after a jar of peanut butter doesn’t deserve to have his identity concealed.)
Daddy’s mother was heartbroken when Skippy got a pup. Skippy hates to go anywhere without this dog. Daddy’s mommy always loved when Skippy would come to stay at her house, but now that Skippy had a dog, they don’t stay there anymore.
Last week Daddy went to visit his Mommy and she was talking about how much she hates that dog and she told a story about Skippy and Betty taking the dog for a long walk in a meadow and when they got home Betty had a tick in her crotch.
“And you know how painful that can be!” Daddy’s Mommy said.
“What does she mean I know how that feels?” Daddy said telling our Mommy the story. “Am I suppressing some long forgotten of my Mommy tweezering a tick from my crotch?”
I know this was still bothering Daddy during our walk because he pulled me away whenever I went to go in the tall grass. We did have a great walk, and we got home, and I saw, sitting on his porch, “Mr Frank and Beans,” in his bathrobe.
“Did you go for a walk across the street?” he asked.
Daddy said we had.
“Better check for tick in your crotch,” Mr. Frank and Beans said.