Tolerance goes to the dogs


January 27, 1993|By COWHERD KEVIN

Let me begin by saying that I am a dog person, to the point

where I actually broke up with a woman over a dog once.

This was back in 1971, when I was sharing the top half of a dingy house with a 135-pound St. Bernard named Holmes.

My girlfriend at the time, the lovely R.C. (not her real initials), did not much care for Holmes.

One problem was that if you stopped petting Holmes, she would . . . well, I suppose we ought to clear that up right away.

Yes, Holmes was a she. I was not hung up on gender-specific names. This was the '70s, for God's sake. People were naming their kids Moon Unit and Blue. So naming a female dog Holmes didn't necessarily mean you had just fired up a chunk of Moroccan hash.

Anyway, Holmes loved to be petted. But as soon as you stopped petting her, she'd cuff you with one of her paws.

OK, I use the term cuff. But this was a very big dog. And when she cuffed you, it felt like a two-by-four landing on your shoulder.

The point is, R.C. didn't go for this. And she wasn't crazy about the fact that Holmes slobbered a lot, either.

Anyway, R.C.'s dislike of my dog eventually led to a loud New Year's Eve dispute during which R.C., fueled with three glasses of Boones Farm wine, said tearfully: "You care more about that stupid dog than you do about me."

I was not thinking that clearly myself at the time, and so I allowed her remark to slip by without a comment.

The next sounds I heard were the door slamming shut and a Camaro roaring to life in the driveway. And since Holmes could do many things, but not open a door or drive a car (at least not a stick-shift), I assumed it was R.C. walking out of my life.

Anyway, I think a story like this more than establishes my credentials as a bona fide dog person.

However, let me say this: I have found some dog people to be absolutely the dumbest people when it comes to managing their pets.

This became clear the other day when I found myself in a strange neighborhood looking to purchase an item I'd found in the Want Ads.

Anyway, I knock on the door of this house and I hear this frenzied barking and the sound of an animal hurling itself against the door.

When the door opens, I see a woman holding back this vicious-looking Chihuahua.

Now, I don't like Chihuahua's in the first place. But I especially don't like this Chihuahua, as it seems to be the result of some evil cross-breeding between a wolverine and a piranha.

So now I reach down slowly to let the mutt smell me, so he realizes that I'm OK and not here to slaughter everyone in the house.

And with that the little son of a . . . well, he snaps at me!

"Oh, he won't do anything," the woman says with a smile.

Oh, he won't do anything. And here the little monster nearly severed three of my fingers!

So now I start to walk inside and the mutt clamps down on my pants leg. And naturally he won't let go.

"Oh, he's just getting to know you," this woman says.

Well, he got to know me all right. So now I'm walking across the room, dragging this stupid mutt along with me. And I kept thinking: Lady, you might have a dog now. But next time, you really should ask for a brain.

A neighbor of mine, Bud, who's a former salesman, tells about the time he pulled up to a house on the grounds of a state hospital for the criminally insane.

Suddenly these two bullmastiffs came charging up to the car, barking and growling and baring their teeth.

Now, I don't know if you've ever seen a bullmastiff. But this is a very big dog. And it's kind of scary-looking. Picture Ernest Borgnine with a bad hangover . . . that kind of scary.

Anyway, within seconds, the bullmastiffs became even more frenzied, lunging repeatedly at the car and generally acting like the dinner bell had just rung and poor Bud was scheduled to be the first course.

Then suddenly a woman came out and scurried over to the dogs.

And the woman started yelling at the dogs and clubbing them over the head with a stick while shouting (to Bud): "OH, THEY'RE OK! THEY WON'T HURT YOU!"

Bud, of course, chose to remain in the car - as would anyone who had not recently had an anvil dropped on his or her head.

You have to wonder about some dog people. You really do.

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