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My ten-year-old daughter, Beth, got her own little dog for Christmas. The dog is a hybrid; it’s called a Malti-shit or a Shitzy-malt or something like that. We already had two perfectly good big dogs, but Beth had insisted she needed something little. Something she could hold and baby. Not unlike Holly Hunter’s character in Raising Arizona when she says, “I need me a toddler, Hi.” So, Christmas morning, there was this little dog waiting in a kennel under the tree. Upon seeing it, Beth fell to her knees and tears streamed down her face as she announced how much she loved him, the dog, not Santa. Then we let the dog out of the cage and he ran and ran. An uncle, a cousin or somebody yelled, “Run, Forrest, run,” and that’s how our high priced little yap dog came to be called Forrest Gump. It was the real Forrest Gump who said, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” I’m a parent of four young kids. For me, life is not like a box of chocolates. For me, life is like a game of Chinese Checkers. Everyone wants to play, there are a million pieces on the board, and no one has a clue what the rules to the game actually are. Forrest Gump is the first dog we have ever paid for. Well, except for my wife’s basset hound she got right before we started dating. That basset hound truly was Forrest Gump. If you
were outside and took your hands off it, the thing would start running and all you saw was his low slung ass and floppy ears bouncing inches above the pavement as he dashed from sight. In a straight line. I’m not real sure about that dog’s blood line. Bethany was financing it from a shopping mall pet store. You just can’t make this kind of stuff up. Bethany was paying ten dollars a week for that dumb dog. I’m not sure what this says about Bethany’s frame of mind about the time we started dating and, quite frankly, I don’t want to spend too much time analyzing it. Our Forrest Gump is not that kind of runner. He runs in circles, not straight lines, and never gets too far from home, food, or my daughter. We’re house training Forrest, and I find myself spending a lot of time with him in the back yard. Our other dogs are perfectly capable of going to the bathroom by themselves. Not our Forrest. When nature calls for him, someone has to supervise. The back of our house is mostly glass and it is not unlike looking in a fishbowl. So as I stand there with Forrest, I can see one of my children suffering some type of slight at one end of the house, then running through the house screaming “Momma,” finding his mother hiding at the other end of the house, explaining the slight with great exaggeration and arm gestures, before getting dismissed by their mother when she realizes no one is bleeding or unconscious. Then the slightee will march all the way back through the house to the scene of the slight and inform the slighter that Mom said he or she is in “BIG TROUBLE” if they do it again. Forrest doesn’t seem that interested in what’s happening in the house. He’s too busy sniffing the grass, trying to get off the big, wet leaf that covers his whole face, or munching on
one of his own little turds. Yes, with our high priced dog, yesterday’s dump becomes today’s breakfast burrito. Forrest is not much of a watch dog, either. One evening a cat walked between where I was standing and Forrest was sniffing. Forrest never saw the cat. A high school marching band could have trooped through my backyard between us and Forrest would not have noticed. While his lookout skills can use a little help, Forrest’s bark is something he employs quite frequently. It’s a little yap, like you’d expect from such a small thing. To see him use it, you get the distinct impression he clearly doesn’t understand how little he is. He just yaps and yaps, then looks at you like he’s confused because you’re not cowering in sheer terror. Unless Forrest gets a megaphone, some serious platform shoes, and overdoses on Luther Vandross pills, that bark will never be ferocious. You simply can’t pull ferocious off from that pitch, that altitude or that volume. It would be like Sweden picking on Germany. It’s cute, you know, as long as no one takes it too far. And it remains to be seen how far Forrest will take it. Forrest is seriously playing the attitude game with Molly, one of our other dogs. Molly will be lying in the grass and Forrest will decide to drop some gastric luggage right beside her. It has to be showmanship. Got an acre of grass back there and Forrest feels the need to make his bodily deposit within mere inches of Molly’s head. As a guy, I’m sure Forrest is saying “Let me show that old mutt who’s boss. I’m gonna take this big, stinking dump right in her face. Uuuuggghhh! Oh yeah, bitch! Smell that! Take that!”
I guess I understand the sentiment of literally crapping on your competition or an adversary, but the turd that comes out of Forrest is the size of a kidney bean. The same kidney bean he’ll be munching on in a few days. To her credit, Molly never even raises her head. She watches Forrest with world weary indifference. Did I mention that Molly is a mother, too? Had about six puppies from some nappy haired love ’em and leave ‘em Lothario we never saw again. (We heard her suitor was shot shortly after Molly gave birth. He survived and some family adopted him. All I can say is, I didn’t shoot him, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Molly, and I haven’t checked out my wife’s alibi too closely.) Anyway, Molly has seen a thing or two in this lifetime and doesn’t get too worked up about much of anything. Now my daughter has come to the back door. Forrest Gump runs to Beth, she swoops him up in her arms, and little Forrest covers my daughter’s face with wet, slimy, shit-stained kisses. Then they are gone back to her room, where Forrest will sit in a baby doll sized bed while Beth combs his hair. That leaves just two of us in the backyard. It’s quiet. No one is running. No one is barking. No one is invading personal boundaries with tiny, bean sized turds. And Molly and I are content to stay right there, watching life through the glass.