14 February 2022

Ellis Millsaps -- Go Dog Go: Go Around Again

  Garbo died of natural causes in Mansfield on a sad hot date in August. I think she was eleven years old.

 Maybe it was because of the sorrow of Garbo's demise– seven year old Jack would not come out of his room for the burial under the magnolia ( one of two dogs and a half dozen cats interred there. a phenomenon that led  a decade later to the adjoining Wiffle Ball field to be named Pet Sematary Park)-- but Cynthia ruled that I couldn't get another dog, That was a few months before she came home with Chance, a mongrel shepherd- bird dog mix.

Chance was a good dog. I think that all dogs are good dogs when raised with kindness. He had a good sense of humor.  Looking at you intently, drooling while you were eating pizza he’d say, “All I am saying is give Chance a piece.” He never got tired of that one.

 In Mansfield a walk to Blackwell Grocery( the old downtown Blackwell’s) was a seven times a week or more occurrence. Garboo I could tell to wait outside, but not so with Chance who would come inside to do his own shopping the next time someone opened the door. Consequently it was necessary to tie his leash to a lamp post outside.

 One day Chance disappeared for a while. It wasn't like him to wander off but the kids and I drove down every street in town unsuccessfully looking for him. It was later in the day that I remembered he’d walked with me to Blackwell's that morning. He was still tied to the lamp post when we found him looking not distressed but happy to see us.

Chance had a problem with recurring ear infections. On account of this he had to take a daily cortisone tablet which handled the ear infection the but caused him to get fat.

 After he got fat he had trouble with the slick vinyl floor in the kitchen. He could make it okay if he proceeded carefully, but once he reached the doorway to the dining room he would panic and try to make a run for it thereby finding himself splayed out on his belly.

After this happened a few times he solved the problem by turning around and walking backward over the door sill. This he  repeated several times a day for the rest of his life, Sometimes we'd make the forklift backup beep while he did so.

 Grace and I bought Ginsburg when she (Grace) was about sixteen. He was the largest puppy in the litter, a black lab whose father was the champion working dog in the state, a  drug sniffer. He threw up in the car on the way home, not the last time in his puppyhood he would get car sick. He had a history of stomach issues. He once swallowed the target ball from our bocce game (a ball about twice the size of a golf ball) which had to be surgically removed. 

Ginsberg could not be tied to the lamp post outside Blackwell's because he was temperamental  didn't care for strangers. I had to tie him to a tree on the other side of the railroad tracks.

 One day he was tied loosely there and as I was crossing the tracks to get him he was looking at me with his tail wagging in anticipation. At the same time a drunk guy was approaching him from the side. I realized too late that he intended to pet the handsome happy dog. Ginsberg saw him out of the corner of his vision and attacked, one of his paws scratching the drunk's upper arm.

 For this he had to spend a week in doggy jail. I still feel guilty about it. I visited him every day bringing treats and conversation. The animal control lady said Ginsberg behaved like a ” perfect gentleman.”

 One day I was just visited by Jack and John Thigpen who brought  three dogs with them, each of them bird dog size: Jack's dog, another of which Jack has joint custody with a former girlfriend and John T’s dog.

 John and I  were seated in armchairs while Jack lay on the sofa, Ginsberg’s spot, with all  three dogs. Ginsberg came in and surveyed the situation then went in the kitchen and barked, whereupon the three visiting dogs went to join him defending against the imaginary intruder.

Ginsberg left them there and walked back in the dining room and hopped up on the couch with Jack.

 Well played sir.

- Ellis Millsaps