Sunday, July 19, 2009

Suffering In the Heartland

Today, at almost ten o'clock in the morning, the temperature is only sixty eight degrees, even though the sun is shining from a cloudless sky. It is "human being" weather. Perfect summer weather for me and my old dog, Duke. Not too hot. In fact, it is not hot at all. It is beautiful. So naturally, I am sitting indoors writing on the computer.

Usually on this date in Kansas, a person can not breathe from the hot humidity suffocating everything in a moist blanket of suffering. The older I get, the less I can tolerate it. Same goes for Duke. In an effort to help ease his suffering through the typical ungodly Kansas heat and humidity horrors this year, I had him professionally shaved. Dropping him at the vet's I carelessly said "Do not shave his legs, since he runs through the tall grass."

Will I ever learn that careless speech leads to catastrophes?

When I returned for Duke, I was met with a miscarriage of responsible pet ownership that brought tears to my eyes. Duke's normally thick, beautiful coat of Chow/German Shepherd genes had been reduced to the same stubble left on a new Marine's head. His flabby old belly was exposed. His wrinkled neck seemed too vulnerable for such a good old dog. Worst of all, he had been given a poodle cut! The thick silky fur on his shoulders and hips had been left in place, giving him the look of a silly city dog with no common sense. All I could think to say to this poor animal was "I am so, so sorry!"

He looks horrible and it is all my fault. I know he is far more comfortable without that smothering dog fur that keeps him perfectly comfortable in the snow and ice of January. But he looks so silly, even the chickens do not give him a lick of respect.

I know precisely how he feels. When my mother remarried, I had to move to Wichita and go to a new school. I was doing okay until my aunt graduated barber school. My aunt and my mother forced me into getting a haircut - a "pixie" haircut. The shoulder length hair that I had valiantly defended against my mother's constant assaults, fell in long strands from my aunt's shiny new scissors. When I looked in the mirror, I knew the entire rest of sixth grade was going to go so very, very badly for me. My bangs were a mere 1/2 inch, emphasizing my high forehead. I was almost bald. No one can wear a hat in school, or a head band, or a scarf. You just have to go, pink ears shining, white forehead beaming, humiliation complete.

A moment of silence for the abject abuse suffered by me that year... and another moment for the Dukester. Cruelly, a humiliated heart continues to beat....


cyberkit said...

Oh, do keep telling yourself that he's more comfortable ...

I'm seriously thinking about forwarding your post to the ASPCA, PETA and maybe ASCAP (there's a twangin' song rolling around in the tall grass somewhere).

What's next? Outfits for different occasions?

Duke, I'm soooo sorry that your human is such a total woof-woof-whine yip. Maybe you can tell your friends you're doing undercover police dog things that you can't really talk about.


Jackie said...

Even the coyotes were coming up to the edge of the yard and rolling hysterically....

cyberkit said...

"The Laughing Coyote" Sounds like it would have been a great title for a Tony Hillerman mystery, if he was still among us.

I'm glad you posted a photo ... It was far worse in my mind's eye. (I'm not sure what that might say about me...)