Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Norman and Tequila

The important thing is that Norman was sensitive and intelligent. He was so shattered by the loss of his first home that he never adjusted to subsequent homes. He soon adjusted to us once he adjusted to the horses in the stable and our back yard.
Nothing in Norman’s previous apartment-style life had prepared him for people who just sat right down on a horse and rode it around. The first time he saw me on a horse he tried to drag me off by my boot heel. However, once Norman had decided that there was nothing obscene or degrading in the relationship between a man and a horse, he loved to come along with us. He had learned that horses occasionally got out of the yard and went interesting places, did interesting things.
Norman was the most intelligent dog I have ever met. He understood hundreds of words. It was our custom to go grocery shopping once a week. And every other week we bought Norman a bone. This bone held tremendous significance for him. He would bury his bone as soon as he received it. Then, in the evenings, when we came out to sit on the glider in back of the house and drink our coffee, Norman would appear with his bone. It was a pack thing, something we all did together, he and his family.
But one grey day Joanne forgot Norman’s bone. He understood time enough to know it was bone week. He stood at the door looking through the glass into the kitchen while Joanne unpacked our goodies. Suddenly, she looked at the dog and said, “Oh, my God, I forgot Norman’s bone!” Norman put his head and tail down and left the kitchen door.
Joanne ran to the phone in the living room and called her friend, Zoe Ann.
“Hello, Zoe? Have you been shopping yet?...Well, I forgot Norman’s bone. Could you pick one up for him?...You’ll bring it here in a half an hour? Wonderful!”
A living room window was open and Norman, sitting outside, heard this one side of a telephone conversation, but he understood. When Zoe arrived within half hour, Norman met her at the gate. He fawned, groveled, crawled on his belly like a reptile. He knew who Zoe was, knew she had his bone and he wanted it! Zoe had never before walked into our yard unchallenged, and she never did again, but that afternoon she was visiting royalty.
About the time that Norman came to live with us, Joanne’s brother, Fritz, and his wife Ruth acquired a German Shepherd bitch whom they named Tequila. And so, as must inevitably happen in the face of profound, collective ignorance, we decided to breed the two dogs to each other. Now dog breeding is one of the Greater Arcana, right up there with transmutation of substances and balancing the checkbook. People spend their lives breeding and raising dogs and still spend restless nights wondering about the myriad things that could go wrong. But we, we knew nothing of these things. Dogs have bred without human help for tens of thousands of years. How difficult could it be?
And so we got the two dogs together and poured ourselves some wine. Unfortunately for us, we had two virgin dogs. Norman smelled the air, he smelled Tequila, and then the two of them stood around looking expectantly. Surely something should be happening. But it wasn’t.
We had some more wine. Even that didn’t help. We picked up Norman and placed him on Tequila. Still nothing. We were getting rather desperate when Norman accidentally made the proper penetration. Then the two dogs were permanently stuck. They stuck together even when they tried to walk off in opposite directions. Finally, they got too near the bluff and fell ten feet into some brush where they fortunately separated. For some strange reason, we could no longer interest them in coupling. Perhaps they felt that sex was just too painful. Forget pups if that’s what you had to do.
We had come to that conclusion ourselves. And so Tequila and Norman never added to the gene pool.

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