Thursday! Writer’s Workshop. Go!
This week, I chose:
2.) List the names of five dogs from your lifetime. Write about why one sparks a stronger memory to you than the others.
When I was growing up, we had two or three dogs at once. The only one I remember is Snuffy (short for Snuffleupagus). He was mine, given to me on my eighth (or sixth or seventh; come on it’s been awhile) birthday. Oh, how I loved this dog. He was a German shepherd and as sweet as they come. Unless you tried to come into the yard. Or the house. Or, wait, if you walked by the gate. Or were the mailman. Or the cat next door. Or that boy around the corner named Leslie who threw aluminum cans at me. Only then did he bark.
No one likes can throwing boys named Leslie.
I don’t remember the tale of Snuffy eating the whole roasted chicken, but I do remember him getting the popcorn box stuck on his head. I remember him sleeping at the foot of my bed, green eyes glowing in the dark as he walked with me to the bathroom in the middle of the night, keeping quiet while I sneaked to make butter sandwiches.
The other dogs in my life as a child were ones I loved just as much as Snuffy: Clifford, Benji, Lady (from Lady and the Tramp), Flash from The Dukes of Hazard, Freeway from Moonlighting, Pecos Bill from WKRP in Cincinnati (why I remember this, I have no idea), all 101 Dalmations, Pluto, and Elwood from The Shaggy D.A.
And then there’s the one that sparks a stronger memory than the others. Well, naturally that’d be Cujo. Last week I wrote about being startled. I didn’t think about it at the time, but aside from my own house scaring me, I was most recently frightened by Cujo’s little brother. Except not on screen.
Until last month I was working 7-3. In order to get to work by 7 I had to be on the 6:05 bus which meant before the sun rose. One morning I am running a little late. I jog to make it to the bus stop before the bus. I hear him before I see him since it was still dark. And then he is running directly at me, teeth bared, full speed. He is as high as my waist and on his hind legs would likely be my height. He is muscular. And angry. I know I shouldn’t have run, but in this moment, getting bitten and having a tetanus shot or being checked for rabies runs through my mind. So, I run. Smack dab into a parked Jeep.
Disoriented, I run around the side of it and to its back. The dog follows, running so fast it looks like he will fall over. He’s growling, barking. I run to the front of the Jeep where his owner stands seemingly bewildered. I keep wondering how it would feel, those long teeth cutting into my flesh. Where will he bite? My leg? My arm? My neck? I imagine him biting my butt and I start to run faster, still in a circle around the truck because seriously, dumb ass, get your dog!
It is nearly Christmas and I cannot imagine being laid up with gauze on my butt because this creep doesn’t have a leash for his dog. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the dog got out. Maybe. After the third trip around the Jeep I am getting tired, slowing up. How long have I been running? Is there really a dog chasing me or is that residual vodka making me think there’s a dog chasing me? Speaking of talking and dogs, now I’m seeing the black dog in “The Son of Sam” talking to David Berkowitz. Amazing what the mind will come up with when under duress but no one wants talking dogs right now; you need to climb onto the top of this truck so that Cujo’s brother won’t bite your butt!
Instead, I twist my ankle and almost go down but the sight of that dog coming at me propels me forward. I wonder again if the dog escaped its yard and the owner (is he high? Why is he just standing there? Does he have insurance?) is simply retrieving/catching him? He’s not doing too good a job at catching; they should send backup. Also, if the dog left because it’s being mistreated, he better hope it doesn’t have a cell phone to call and report him.
On the fifth (the fifth!) trip around the Jeep, the guy grabs the dog by the collar. He mumbles, “sorry, ma’am.” I respond as politely as I can, out of breath with muddy pants, and having missed the bus, no longer caring about any benefit of any amount of doubt, ”Fuck you. Get a leash.”
And now I suffer from dog chase induced PTSD. I cannot walk down that street without pausing, listening. I certainly refuse to jog down that street. I swing my head back and forth, sweeping my eyes up and down the block just in case. Every day I think I hear him, see him running toward me. I cross the street now when people are walking their dogs, even if they’re leashed.
You can never be too sure that that isn’t a demonic black lab telling the owner to let him bite random butts.