Shoes but No Laces – A Story of a Dog and his Man
There is not a person dead or alive that loved and cared for his dog, more than uncle Slappy feared for his dog “Mutt”.
Uncle Slappy testified almost daily as to the validity of Mutts’ progencee.
“Uncle Slappy, I think you mean pedigree”. I corrected politely.
Feigning missing the correction, Uncle Slappy would always
reply. “Yeah I guess he got some of that in him too!”
“Uncle Slappy how did the name Mutt come to be”. I quizzically asked.
“What else would you name a dog that was part cocker spaniel part airedale, shepherd, pointer, great Dane, collie, chihuahua, dachshund, and depending on what angle, and time of day you wit¬nessed this thing, you would see exactly what it is? A mutt.”
One of Mutts’ many flaws was the fact the Mutt could not bark. Uncle Slappy explained that when Mutt was a swaggerdly pup, he attempted to jump the sidewalk, and he banged his little nuts on the curb, and never really barked after that.
Dog and his man had become one. It was a very profound thing to witness. Uncle Slappy could with just the flip, snap, or just the twist of his fingers could command Mutt to complete several tasks. Uncle Slappy held his hand in a certain position. Mutt would stand as if he were a prize fighter staring down his opponent before the first bell. Another movement of his fingers would command Mutt to crawl on his belly, as if imitating a soldier crawling under barbed wire during basic training. Only seeing, would you believe Uncle Slappy flicking his wrist, and Mutt begin pecking the ground as if he was a chicken. The sound Mutt made was exact, and good enough to convince any chicken Mutt was one of them.
The years passed too quickly to count. Returning from the war, my bliss was elevated when I found Slappy on his porch engaged in one of his aggressive-defensive heated verbalizations with a gentleman who was sure that Mutt was as colorblind as any other dog.
“Put your money where your mouth is,” says Slappy.
As soon as the bet had been agreed, Slappy would snap his fingers, and Mutt would come to attention. “Go get my brown shoes”. Slappy would command Mutt.
In a flash and a half, Mutt would return with the brown shoes. “So what, what does that prove, gimme my money back”, quipped the challenger.
A flick of the wrist, and Mutt was at the ready.
“Go get my black shoes” is the command.
Like he had pulled a rabbit out of the hat, Mutt returned with the black shoes.
“You only got two pairs of shoes in there” Says the bettor.
At which time Slappy accompanies the challenger to the room, to show the eleven pairs of shoes, lined up under the bed. Back on the porch Slappy would command Mutt five more. Mutt returning each time with the correct color shoe. Slappy would take a deep bow, as if he just conducted the Boston Symphony. The challenger would scratch his head, and reluctantly succumb to his wizardry, leaving his money, and his mouth, wide open.
Slappy was always bothered when neighbors, relatives, and friends would ridicule and question him as to why he never took Mutt for a walk, or let Mutt outside of the fence. Uncle Slappy owned a three acre piece of land. On which set a small farm house acquired through his third divorce. Slappy built a six foot high,
fence around the perimeter, outside which Mutt was never to ven¬ture.
I often wondered why I never memorized Slappys’ dissertation
on why he did not let Mutt outside of his property. It seems I
had heard the speech more than my name.
Passing by one morning the farmer Danky yelled from his truck, “when you gonna let that mutt outside that fence for some fresh air”. The farmer’s laughter seemed to set a fire to Slappys’ ire. Slappy was incensed, and there was nothing else to do, but get comfortable, as Slappy was about to set it off.
Slappy stood, reached for the empty belt loops on his pants,
a place to rest his thumbs while he launched into what has be-come known as “Slappys’ ode to poop and pee”. It was a bit of a challenge for a novice to keep up with Slappy as he preached. One sentence would find Slappy the narrator, the next finds Slappy the first, and third person. Slappy always made it clear. “You may not know what I’m saying, but you sure as hell know what I’m talking about.
”Ninety-nine percent of dog owners bring their animal out of their house, apartment or building, for the traditional ‘walk the dog’. Some time during the walk, your ‘baby’ (a woman passerby was overheard saying, she had no children, the dog was her baby) re¬lieves itself. While the owner stands looking as if the miracle of St. Jude had just been performed. Be it the city, state, government building, or your neighbor’s lawn. The lamp post, the car tire, brick wall, or the sand one of the ten best beaches on the coast. Regardless of the spot, it is someone else’s pro¬perty.
“Baby pulls, tugs, and sniffs, until the right spot is found. Yep! there it is, the spot. Wham, baby relieves it¬self. Oopsie, forgot that plastic bag, so Mr. and Mrs. Amerika decide to just kick a foot full of one of the best beach’s sand over my baby’s poop. No one is looking, and so what if someone is looking. The fact is just owning a dog entitles Mr. and Mrs. Amerika, to dump their baby’s relief, on anyone’s property they choose. Besides they have no children that might choose this spot to sit and dig in the sand, or by happenstance, put a mouth full of sand while mom is not looking, directly in its mouth. Baby has found another spot and pee, baby must. Too bad there is no plastic bag for that. Oh well, another foot full of sand and no one will be the wiser.”
Slappys’ thumbs would be well rested, as he stuck his hands in his pockets to assist him in yanking up his pants. Continuing on, “then Mr. and Mrs. Amerika breeze away from the scene, having left babys’ relief on someone elses’ property. ‘Oh yes! The plastic bag. Let us find someone else’s trash bin or receptacle to dump our baby’s relief. We would certainly never take it to our home or trash. WE certainly wouldn’t think of washing baby’s pee spot, as we would do, if it were our property!’ Slappy would stand even straighter, as his voice diminished an octave, as he fought back a tear or two he persisted with his tirade.
“That’s what wrong with the world today. Everyone thinks they can shit and piss wherever they like. The mere ownership of a dog entitles the owner to poop and pee on someone else’s property. That is why my Mutt remains on my property. I am better than no one. No one is better than I. Neither I, or my Mutt will poop or pee on anyone, or their property.” Slappy would remove his handkerchief from his back pocket, wipe his brow, and gloat as if he had delivered the Gettysburg add¬ress. Patting Mutts’ head as it were a bongo drum, professing Mutt to be his prolifaagee.
“Uncle Slappy, I think you mean protégé,” I added.
“Yeah I guess he got some of that too” Slappy re-added.
Feeling that he had made his point, Slappy dismissed all listeners, as if he were an opera prima donna, who had grown weary of the hangers-on in his dressing room.
“Just leave me be,” he commanded.
The plight of life separated me from Slappy and Mutt.
I got the message that Slappy had passed away. As the story goes
Mutt carried a black right shoe and brown left shoe to the front
door, every time the bell rang, anticipating Slappy’s return. Mutt passed not long after. Then and only then did aunt Beans (Slappys’ sister, better known as Ant Beans) explain the shoe wizardry.
Slappy had taught Mutt to get the next pair of shoes in line. Slappy would arrange the shoes according to color. He would memorize the order of color. He would call out the color, and Mutt would simply bring the next pair of shoes in line which of course would be the right color.
Mutt never pooped or pee’d like other dogs, but he was just as colorblind as Fido.
It was cousin Spickett who lifted my spirits by assuring me that he made sure Mutt had a pair of shoes to make the trip.