Wonderdog

My uncle once owned a dog that did not love him. Despite his owner’s constant adoration, affection, and regular meal offerings, the mustard-colored mutt escaped the confine’s of both yard and house with a regularity that would have impressed Steve McQueen. Whenever my uncle arrived home from inspecting train wrecks — that was his job — he would discover the yard empty, his food untouched, or the window screen torn asunder.  At such moment, my uncle would race down the street to our house, load my brothers into his truck, and slowly circle the neighborhood, shouting ‘Ralph!  Ralph!” — for that was the dog’s name — ‘Godammit dog, where are you?”

Ralph would always emerge a day or two later from the woods, wet from a swim at the reservoir, or covered in briars.  At which point, my uncle would hug and kiss the doe-eyed convict, while muttering in a sing-song baby voice “Such a goood dog!  Such a goood doggie.”  Ralph would be chained of course for another week or so, before his master would forgive his past transgressions.  The dog, who knew nothing of redemption, gratitude or the human parole system,  would immediately celebrate its freedom by running into the woods for another three or four days, chasing squirrels and sniffing deer pellets. Continue reading