Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

So I’m down at my parent’s house yesterday and my mother accidentally let her little poodle Jack out the back door. Jack immediately makes a run for it across the yard, the fields, and into the snake, bobcat and coyote inhabited woods behind their place. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little but believe me when I tell you that Jack would not fare well in the wilderness. Little bro has been raised by my 90-year old parents and would probably be overtaken and eaten by a colony of rabbits or something. Anywho, Jack had vamoosed. Scrammed. Hightailed it for parts unknown. He was gone.

At the time I was standing by the door talking to Mom and The Spark was out in the Jeep, where I’d left him earlier. Mom was a little panic-stricken, so I ran to the Jeep, let Spark out, and yelled, “Spark! Go get Jack!”

Honestly, I have no idea why I did it other than it seemed a good option at the time. I’ve seen Sparky do too many amazing things to doubt him.

At that point The Spark springs out of the Jeep, ears up, and makes a quick inventory of his surroundings. Then he bolts, nose to the ground, zig-zagging across their backyard as I gave chase.

Even with my impressive foot speed I couldn’t keep up, and the last thing I saw was Spark go halfway across the bridge over their lake, make a u-turn, and sprint towards the back part of their property and to the woods beyond.

All I could do was walk briskly towards where Sparky had gone, and for a couple minutes all was quiet. Finally I stopped and listened, but I heard nothing.

And then . . .

In the distance, bursting through the bush, here they came. Jack, with Spark close behind, headed my way. I swear to you that Sparky was herding Jack like a cow or sheep or something. Every time Jack tried to veer off or turn back, Sparky would give him a body bump or an occasional nip to keep him headed in the right direction.

Sparky continued this until Jack was basically corralled directly into my awaiting arms, at which point my flabbergasted mother met me with a leash so she could take Jack back inside.

Of course, my buddy proceeded to receive a ton of attention from both my parents, with ear rubs and plenty of “good boys” all-around. Spark, of course, acted like it was just another day at the office, even though he’d never rescued a poodle in his life.

Sparky, man. He never ceases to amaze me.

Yep. hat’s a happy dog, man.

Listen, everyone knows I’m a big animal guy, and I love dogs in particular. Hey, who couldn’t be a dog lover with this guy by my side? Anyway, although I like cats I don’t feel like you can count on them, ya know? I mean, I can’t imagine a cat chasing off an intruder or warning me about an oncoming 18-wheeler like The Spark has done. And although some cats can be all cuddly and whatnot, others are more standoffish, indifferent and aloof. In addition, a percentage of cats are downright evil, and here’s proof. What you are about to lay your eyes upon are images of pure evil, images that will chill you to the bone, images that shall prove that some cats are demons with eyes that are the Gateway to Hell. View at your own risk.

Ernie will never forget the day a portal from hell opened, right there in his mom’s kitchen.

What the . . . RUN!

10 to 1 odds this demon just walked on across the ceiling after the photo was taken.

Supposedly this monster got into some flour, or perhaps he just murdered the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Sleep well, human. Sleep well.

Here kitty kit . . . HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!

Santiago Catzalez as he plots his ultimate world domination.

The precise moment Kimberly knew that her beloved Toby had turned on her.

PS- Over the past few years I’ve pissed off clowns, midgets, bowlers, nazis, and LeBron James, among others. I’m sure I’ve just added cat lovers to my list.

Check out Digby, man. Just struttin’ out on that fake grass like a boss. Too bad it was fake grass or there would have been a mallard massacre. Instead we had some loss of dignity for Digby, but being a dog he shook it off and got on with his life. Dogs, man. Nothing gets them down for long. Not even fake grass.

PS- I’d be willing to bet a cat put that fake grass on that pond. Cats are diabolical. 

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Stop it.

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – Three people were injured during a dog attack Friday afternoon, according to Tampa Police. Police said a pit bull mix named Scarface attacked its owner and continue to attack other family members who tried to stop the attack.

Brenda Guerrero went outside to put a sweater on the dog when it began attacking her. Her husband, Ismal Guerrero, attempted to pull the dog off his wife when it began attacking him.

Animal Control and Tampa Police responded, and Animal Control shot the dog with a tranquilizer.

The Guerreros were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.

Listen, my stance on this important issue is well documented, because if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times – don’t put clothes on a dog. I know you think it looks all cute and whatnot, but think of the dog, man. He’s embarrassed. Plus, he already has a coat. It’s called fur. Because of this I’m 100% behind Scarface on this one. So hear ye all, and let this be a warning from all dogs to all dog owners: Attempt to clothe me and you shall be attacked viciously, repeatedly, and without remorse. Thank you and good day, sir.

Aww . . .

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Somehow, I’d never read this quote from Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon found a dog beside the body of his dead master, licking his face and howling, on a moonlit field after a battle. He was haunted by this scene until his own death. Here’s the quote:

“This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog. I looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog.”

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Truth.

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Love it.

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Huh-larity.

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Hey, anybody in there?

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I can relate.

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It’s not the size of the dog in the . . . well, you know.

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Wonder if he fetches?

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“I dropped a tear in the ocean. The day it is found is the day I’ll stop missing you.”

Nine years ago, on September 8th, I lost the best little friend I’d ever had.

I first laid eyes on Delaney in early December of 2000. She was a 4-year old rescue and my wife and I had to go pick her up from the Dayton Scottish Terrier Club of America. She was unrecognizable as a Scottie. Her hair was long and unkempt, totally full of knots. When we reached down to pet her she would immediately hit the floor, going flat on her stomach. She just assumed she was going to be hit.

Del had been terribly abused by her owners. She trusted nobody, and would growl and shy away from anyone who tried to touch her. It would be over a year before she would even lick your hand. She had no idea how to love or show compassion. When we brought her home to meet her new brother Poe, she growled and nipped at him, generally making his life miserable for several months.

Over time, Del learned that we weren’t going to hurt her. She slowly and gradually warmed up to us, but it seemed to take forever. When she finally opened up to us, her incredible personality was revealed. She was a feisty, tough, animated, energetic little girl, albeit one with a giant chip on her shoulder. She had the most amazing eyes and expressions that just spoke to you. When she wanted something, she never hesitated to let you know with a yelp and a nudge of her nose. In fact, she came quite proficient at using that nose as a battering ram. If a door was left even slightly ajar, you could soon expect Del to come barging in to see what you were up to. To make matters worse, she taught her brother the same trick.

Del was a fighter. She didn’t back down from anything, whether it be a bigger delsleep11dog or a terrible disease. Ten years ago we took her in for a vet appointment and found that she had an abdominal mass inside of her. We’d had no idea. She’d been at the beach all summer and hadn’t shown a bit of discomfort. Her spleen had to be taken out, but she was as good as new in a month or so.

Then, in the fall of ’07 Del fell ill again. This time it was cancer, and she had to have a 9-pound tumor removed from her little 25-pound body. After surgery, pancreatitis set in and it was really bad. She was at MedVet for several days, and at one point the doctor told us that we shouldn’t hold out much hope, that Del didn’t have much of a chance, probably wouldn’t make it through the night. She could barely hold her little head up, and we basically said our goodbyes.

But as I was leaving a young vet called me aside and whispered this:

“Don’t give up. She’s a hundred times stronger than you or me. I can tell.”

And he was right.

The next morning we called expecting the worst, but incredibly we were told she was sitting up. Stunned, we went to see her and were thrilled to see she was much better. The doctors were shocked and Del was quite the little celebrity among the vets and staff at MedVet. Everyone was just amazed that she’d fought through it and came out alive. Del was a little miracle dog. She came home a few days later and just kept recovering until she seemed as good as new.

Unfortunately, the cancer came back and this time it had spread to her bladder. In January 2008 we were told that Delaney had 4-months to live. You would never had known it as she was as perky and vibrant as ever, hopping around, standing on her back legs asking for treats, just generally being Del. The 4-months passed and she was still going strong. Once again Del was beating the odds. Then, in late August, she started showing signs that things weren’t right. She started to decline quickly, eventually stopped eating and our local vet told us that it was time.

We lost Delaney on September 8th, 2008. She was nearly 12-years old, and I held her as she passed. She was wrapped in an old robe of mine that she loved so much. You know, I learned more from her than anyone can imagine. Her determination, resiliency, and lust for life were inspiring. Once she learned that we loved her, her loyalty, compassion, boundless energy, and sheer will-power made her a remarkable pet and the perfect companion.

She’s been gone for 8-years now, but she will never, ever be forgotten.

I loved that little dog so much.

Ever heard of Salty and Roselle? If you haven’t it’s a damn shame because their story is amazing. Both were in the World Trade Center, Building 1, on September 11th, 2001 when the plane hit. Salty was on the 71st floor and Roselle was on the 78th, and both miraculously led their friends to safety amidst the chaos before the burning tower collapsed.

It may not surprise you to learn that Salty and Roselle were dogs, and they were the only guide dogs in the Towers that day.

When the attacks occurred that terrible day, Salty and his sightless owner, Omar Rivera, found themselves on the 71st floor. Refusing to leave Rivera’s side, Salty stayed with his best friend. About halfway down a co-worker, trying to help, tried to take Salty’s lead but it was a no go. Salty refused to leave Omar, leading him to safety and away from the soon-to-be fallen building.

Roselle? She was asleep under her blind best friend Michael Hingson’s desk on the 78th floor in Tower 1 of the when the attack commenced. She was awakened by the plane impacting some fifteen floors above them. Roselle then calmly and bravely led Hingson to Stairwell B despite the smoke, confusion and noise surrounding her.

She then proceeded to lead her owner and 30 other people down 1,463 steps and out of the tower. And do you know the only time Roselle stopped, about halfway down? It was to pause and lick the hands of some people going up the stairs – the firefighters.

Somehow, it seemed that Roselle knew.

The descent of took just over an hour, and just after exiting the tower, it collapsed, sending debris flying everywhere. Hingson later said, “While everyone ran in panic, Roselle remained totally focused on her job, while debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm.” Once clear, Roselle led her owner to the safety of a subway station.

Salty passed away in 2008 at the age of 11, and Roselle followed in 2011 at the age of 13. Both died as unsung heroes of 9/11.

Dogs, huh? If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times – one day we’re going fully understand what dogs know and just how much they understand, and the answer will surprise us.

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So here’s the latest. I was at a local shopping mall today when I had to run into a store to look for something. As always The Spark was with me, so I left the windows down 4-5 inches to keep him cool. I know, I know, it still gets hot but I’m never gone more than 10-minutes so he’s fine. Plus, I remote start the car when it’s necessary. Chillax.

Anyway, after a short jaunt in and out of the store I return to my jeep. I climb in and immediately see this on the passenger side seat:

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Da hell? Did somebody recognize my jeep and leave me one of those Grabber Claws as a present? Was somebody just messing around? Then it hit me – I’d left my iPhone on the console between the seats. Seems a thief had attempted to reach in and grab my personal property with the claw thingy.

My guess is the bandit was either scared witless as my fierce defender lept from the backseat and dropped his burgle tool in horror or Sparky actually leaped up and grabbed the damn claw from burglar boy’s larcenous hands. Trust me, if Spark got hold of the claw he would not let go. Of that I am 100% certain.

Anyhoo, bottom line? My possessions remain mine and I in fact have a handy-dandy Grabber Claw with which to play.

Atta boy, Spark.

Not on my watch, ya filthy crook.

Not on my watch, ya filthy crook.

Sparky’s hatred of all things feathered has been well documented on this site. Y’all are familiar with Sparky5 his banishment from the Commonwealth of Kentucky for a chicken massacre that he may or may not have been involved in. For the record, Spark still steadfastly denies any involvement and I believe him.

Yes, the first thing Sparky does when we leave the house is scan the friendly skies, but I’m sure he’s just checking the weather. And just because he can spot a buzzard 300-feet in the air and chase it half a mile up Twin Road means nothing. And he does love chicken nuggets, but who doesn’t? Oh, and he’s terrified of slippery surfaces but thinks nothing of sprinting across the ice on my parent’s lake in pursuit of a duck or goose. And there was that little incident in Petland when he tried to scale the wall of the little exotic bird sanctuary, but I’m pretty sure they were taunting him. And I’m sure this is neither here nor there, but he once tried to attack a 7-year old kid on the beach who was pretending to be a pterodactyl.

Anywho, that’s all circumstantial evidence, correct?

Which brings me to the Spark’s latest adventures in birdhunting. You see, in my back yard is a massive stand of bamboo. Family legend has it that one of my cousins brought it back from Puerto Rico in the 60’s and gave it to dad. Dad planted it, thinking it wouldn’t have much of a chance in the Ohio climate, which was dead-wrong. That stuff has been growing and trying to spread ever since. It’s thick as hell and 20-feet high at least. The whole stand is probably 30 x 40-feet wide.

Anyway, turns out that bamboo makes an awesome bird sanctuary, even in winter. Guess who has noticed? Yep. The one and only Avian Avenger himself.

It all began when Spark realized he could raise havoc by running around the perimeter of the bamboo, causing a few birds within to take flight. A couple weeks ago, however, he took things up a notch. To my surprise he barreled headlong like a bat out of hell  into the bamboo, yapping like a canine banshee from the netherworld. Keep in mind this stuff grows a few inches apart and is as thick as hell, so I’ve no earthly idea how he made it through without slamming into a stalk or three. All I know is he disappeared into the void and all hell broke loose. I heard a mixture of hellish barking, the loud rustling of bamboo and the terrified shrieks of hundreds of birds before they flew to the heavens, trying to escape the hellhound that is Sparky.

Long story short, every time I let my pooch out the back door we go through the same ritual. Spark leaves house, Spark attacks bamboo stand, 1000 terrified birds fly to the heavens, Spark struts back to me as proud as a peacock.

Good Lord.

Note: Sparky also hates my feather duster, so there’s that.

Note 2: Yes, I have a feather duster. Deal with it.

 

So touching.

Today my best friend turns 8-years old. Well, at least I think he does. I don’t really know when his real birthday is, but I do know he came into my life 4-years ago on June 27th, so as far as I’m concerned that’s his birthday. Anyway, since I’ve known him he’s changed my world as I know it, and I’ll never be able to repay him for what he’s meant to me. Only I know what that truly means, but let’s just say this little dog means as much to me as any human I’ve ever known.

Because he’s such a big part of my life I’ve written a lot of stories about him and his crazy antics. So, sit back, grab a beverage and read about the smartest, most loyal, and most loving companion ever, my best friend, the little dynamo of a dog called Sparky.

Let’s begin with my very first blog about him. It was simply a brief introduction I wrote shortly after The Spark came into my life . . .

ABOUT SPARKY

Sparky, also known as “Sparky the Wonder Dog” or “The Avian Avenger”, joined Shoe on June 27th, 2012 after living for about 4-years in Kentucky. Sparky was asked to leave the Commonwealth after being implicated in a chicken massacre in which he has steadfastly denied involvement.

Since his arrival in Ohio, Sparky has proven himself to be a fun, intelligent, loyal, and non-bloodthirsty companion. He has made several friends and is now considered a resident of Ohio in good standing.

Sparky likes chasing balls, rabbits, small running children, and anything with wings. He also enjoys eating cheese balls, french fries and chicken nuggets. His dislikes include anything that runs, anything with wings, and hobos.

Sparky’s many talents include catching cheese balls from incredible distances and having a vertical leap of approximately 9 1/2 feet. He also catches houseflies by mouth on a consistent basis and once leaped from a moving car in an effort to catch and kill a squirrel.

His dream is to someday catch a bird in flight, hopefully a seagull, or make solid contact with a beggar’s throat through the car window as we roll by on the street.

Sparky insists that any connection between his hatred of winged creatures, love of chicken nuggets, and the accusations in Kentucky are purely coincidental.

And then the stories began . . .

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SPARKY

So I got Sparky a little over a month ago, and since that time we’ve been together constantly. We travelled down to Oak Island, up the coast to the Outer Banks, and back home in a little 10-day excursion. When we’ve been home he pretty much goes with me everywhere, except when it’s going to be too hot and he can’t stay in the car. And you know, when you spend a lot of time with somebody you learn a lot about them. Here are a few things I’ve learned about Sparky so far.

Sparky hates things that fly. As a matter of fact if you were to believe his accusers he hates anything with wings, as he may or may not have been involved in a chicken massacre back in his hometown. But that’s neither here nor there. Details are unclear and nothing was proven. Still, I do know with certainty that in a little over a month since I’ve had him, Sparky has gone after seagulls, sandpipers, sparrows, gnats, flies, crows, moths,  mosquitoes, my mom’s parakeet, an entire cage of assorted birds at PetCo, and a kid on the beach pretending to be an airplane. What’s interesting is that he can take or leave a cat, he doesn’t really give a damn. If it has wings, though, he’s going after it with murderous intent.

Sparky will chase anything that runs. O.K., remember what I just said about cats? That’s true . . . unless they run. Same for rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, or rhinoceroses. Size is of no consequence. If you run you will be pursued. Seriously, if an animal just sits there he’ll pay it no mind. If it runs? All hell breaks loose. The chase is on, and something must die. Now.

Note to self: Don’t take Sparky to track meets.

On Hobo Watch.

Sparky hates hobos. Regular people he has no problem with. But you know those guys who stand by the road out at WalMart with the signs begging for money? Sparky has no tolerance for those dudes. I had the window down as I cruised by one of them and thank God I had his leash on because Sparky went for it. And when I say “it” I mean the jugular. He lunged right out the window at the guy, and I thought for a second he was going for the sign, but then to my horror I realized he was going for the throat. Luckily I pulled him back in before blood was spilled. Either Sparky hates hobos or the guy smelled like chicken.

Sparky would rather jump than walk, always. I have a couch and a chair that are about 5-feet apart. If Sparky is on the couch and I am on the chair he invariably attempts the leap to get to me rather than simply hop down and trot over. Walk around a 4-foot wall? No way. Spark’s going over the top, and more often that not he makes it. In addition, if he wants something he’ll do a series of vertical pogo jumps straight up and down, practically looking me in the eye at his apex. Dude has a helluva set of hops.

Sparky has the reflexes of a mongoose. Well, at least when I throw cheese balls at him. You know, the little cheese puff balls you get in those industrial size plastic jars. I tell him to get on a chair, say “stay”, back away about 20-feet, and fire away. I’m telling you I can’t get a cheese ball by him. For fun I’ll lob some pop-ups for awhile, then just zip a line-drive at him for a change of pace.  He never misses. I’d say he has a 99.2% field percentage. Amazing.

And oh, you may want to avoid rushing towards me. Sparky gets a little tense when I’m approached in a hasty way. He perceives it as a threat to his best friend. Rush at him? No problem. Rush at me? Problem. He gets j-u-s-t a little protective. You’ll see a lot of growling and showing of teeth and whatnot. So, fair warning, approach respectfully and you’ll be treated thusly. You may even want to bow or even go to one knee first. Just a suggestion. And you know, it’s about time somebody understood the respect with which I should be treated.

Thanks Sparky.

SPARKY SAVED MY LIFE TODAY

He really, REALLY did. I’ll go to my grave believing that. Because today I may have found out SparkySmilewhy Sparky and I ended up together.

Now, those of you that read my stuff regularly know that I don’t go for the “everything happens for a reason” stuff. I’ve always thought people said that to help them deal with things they can’t comprehend or understand, and that by believing that there’s some Master Plan behind terrible events in their lives it helps them to cope.

Today I second guessed that line of thinking.

It happened on Bridge Street. I was stopped at the intersection in front of Roosters, heading north. On my right was the off-ramp from Route 35. Spark was on the seat beside me, sleeping.

Or so I thought.

When the light turned green, I started pulling out. At that point Sparky started yowling, just screeching and bellowing like I’d never heard before. I naturally looked at him to see what was wrong, and he was looking quickly back-and-forth between me and out the window.

It was then that I saw it.

An 18-wheeler carrying automobiles had come flying down the off-ramp, shot right through the red light and barreled through the intersection not 5-feet from my front fender. It shot by me and, as I watched, crossed the intersection and on to what I assume was the auto dealership behind Roosters.

For a second I froze, then felt my knees become weak and start shaking. As I drove on I felt a lick on my elbow. I then had a moment of total clarity as I looked at my best friend, who was staring up at me.

That’s why you came to me.

I know, maybe I’m crazy. But I do know for certain that he saw that truck coming.

And he warned me.

Otherwise I’m 99% sure I wouldn’t be typing this right now.

I always knew that Spark came along at just the right time in my life, precisely when I needed a little unconditional love, a true friend, somebody who would accept me and love me in spite of my many faults. Yep, he’d already saved me in a lot of ways.

But today? He literally saved my life.

POPULARITY SCORE: SPARKY 3, ME 1

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So I ran up to the outlets outside of Court House today to pick up some stuff for my upcoming trips to North Carolina and the Caribbean. I left Spark in the car but soon realized it was a little too hot for him so I went back, got him, and took him for a stroll around the mall.

Anyway, as we’re walking around we run into several different people that we know. I say “we” because here are the responses we received:

“Sparky! Hey! It’s Sparky!”

“Hey Shoe, what’s up?”

“Sparky! The Spark! Come here buddy!”

“SPARKY! IT’S SPARKY! Can I pet him? Look, IT’S SPARKY!”

So, to review, Sparky and I went to the mall today, ran into some people we knew (3 couples and a small group of 5-6), and of the four encounters, three addressed Sparky before they addressed yours truly.

Now that I think of it I was actually sort of an afterthought. After they’d finish showering my dog with affection they’d look up and say, “Hey, how ya doin’?”

Listen, I know I don’t have the best people skills but what the hell? My dog has more friends than I do now?

Good grief.

SPARKY AND THE COLD SNAP

So a few days ago I’m going through my weekly Sparky vs. The Sweeper Ritual, in whichSparkPV2 Spark attempts to assassinate my new Hoover Nano Cyclonic ($79.99 at The Walmart). Sparky is convinced the sweeper is after his toys, so an all-out war takes place every time I attempt the simple task of cleaning my own damn house.  Hence, my new sweeper now looks as if it’s been in a fight to the death with an 18-foot Nile Crocodile. When the hostilities end (which basically consists of me turning off the sweeper),  Sparky always thinks he’s won. Hence, I then have to witness him prancing around the house like a pint-sized canine gladiator who just took down Cyclops or something.

Good Lord.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this story. After The Battle with the Sweeper from Hell, I took Spark out for a walk. It was around 3 degrees that day, weather The Spark hates. Since he’s so well-behaved I rarely put him on a leash anymore unless we’re in a public place with a lot of people, so he was free to roam. As he’s strutting up the street in front of me as only Spark can strut, I notice something . . .

Sparky was rotating his feet to keep one of them off the ground at all times. What the hell, you say? Seriously, Spark would go through the following routine:

  • His back left foot would be off the ground as he ran, safe from the freezing ground, hopping on his right back foot and running normally with his two front feet.
  • Then he’d switch to lifting his back right foot, running on the other three.
  • Then he’d repeat this process with his two front feet.

I noticed he’d rotate raising his feet accordingly, back left, back right, front left, front right, over and over until we got back inside.

I’ve always hated people who dress their dogs in people clothes, but I really need to look into getting Sparky some boots.

And you know, maybe one of those coats they have at PetSmart. And maybe a neck scarf. I wouldn’t want his neck to get cold. Something tasteful of course.

And would some ear muffs be out of the question?

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TERROR ON TAYLOR STREET: WHEN SPARKY ATTACKS

Well, this was terrifying.

So I’m sleeping like a baby the other night when I’m dragged slowly from the Land of Nod by a noise. It was a low, growling sound, sounding like a panther as it eyes its prey. I sat up and glanced at the clock.

3:17 A.M.

Only then did I realize the noise I’d heard was Sparky. There he was, standing at the foot of the bed, growling, and staring at the doorway . . . and the dark hallway beyond.

That’ll wake a man up fairly quickly.

For a few seconds I did the same thing. Stare I mean. Growling would’ve just been weird. Anyway, I have a little sensor light by the backdoor inside the kitchen because I often have to let a certain 4-legged furball out in the pre-dawn hours. As Spark is growling and I’m staring into the darkened hallway, that light comes on.

From two rooms away.

For a few seconds I was indecisive. Sparky? Not so much. He sprung into action like a Hound from Hell, leaping off the bed and tearing towards the kitchen. Whatever, or whoever, is out there is in for a bloodbath. I grab a Civil War era bayonet off the wall by my bed and follow. As Spark makes his charge he’s emitting a noise I’ve never heard from him before. He’s barking, but it’s a deeper, more feral sound, mixed with a growl, really frightening.

I swear to God, at this point I was 100% sure sombody was in our kitchen.

I also thought he’d picked the wrong house, because he was about to meet 22-pounds of pissed-off territory protecting terrier who happens to jump like a pogo stick and has a penchant for going for the throat (just ask that homeless dude out by Walmart). Not to mention the 210 pound guy with the bayonet that was coming, not so much to engage in combat (I’d prefer he run), but there was no way he was going to hurt my best friend.

Long story short, unless burgler dude had a gun he was in for a soul and larynx crushing defeat.

So I follow, through the hallway and back bedroom, into the kitchen. The whole sequence, from waking up to getting to the kitchen, probably took no more than 30-seconds. But when I got to the kitchen Sparky was there, going crazy and pawing at the backdoor. No intruder in sight. I checked the door and it was locked. Strange. I then did a quick search of the house, including the basement. Nothing. In the meantime, Spark was doing a search himself, behind chairs, under tables, still growling all the while. After we were convinced we were alone, I figured it would be a good idea to take him out for a quick look around the yard.

Other than dogs barking a block over, nothing. Still, dogs were barking . . .

Did somebody try to get in? Did Sparky hear the doorknob rattle? Could that have made the sensor come on? Was it nothing at all? Whatever it was, suffice it to say it took me awhile to fall back asleep, but I eventually did.

Sparky? He laid by my bedroom door, head on paws, watching. I tried to get him to come up with me on the bed, but he would have none of it. He was still there when my alarm went off at 6:00 A.M.

Man’s best friend? Damn straight.

SPARKY AND THE POWER SUIT

Don’t let the shy look over there fool you.

So I’m on my way to the bank after school yesterday, just cruising down West Main minding my own business and enjoying the beautiful weather. I had the passenger window down so The Spark could stick his head out, sniff the air, and bark at birds and hobos. After his going airborn incident a few weeks ago I thought it would be prudent to wrap his leash around the gearshift. You know, in case he spotted another squirrel or something.  Anyway, as I approach the Gazette building I notice an attractive, nicely dressed middle-aged woman leaving and coming around the front of her parked car. She was wearing one of those power suits, really dressed for success and all. She had a briefcase in one hand, a bag slung over the other shoulder, and she was holding with both hands what looked like a stack of papers on a clipboard in front of her.

You know how the lanes on West Main are a little tight, right? Because of this I was sort of close to her car so she had to wait for me to pass, and as I approached I got a stone cold stare that seemed to ask, “What, you can’t stop for a lady, you low-life male chauvinist scumbag turd?” The answer was I probably could have, but hey, I wasn’t really paying that close attention.

By the way, you know exactly where this is heading, don’t you?

What happened next is really sort of hard to describe. In my mind Sparky saw the smug look on the woman’s face and was simply doing what I would have done. You know, if I were a dog. Anyway, to say he barked at her doesn’t come close to what actually happened. As we passed her, very closely I might add, he leaped as far as his leash would let him while emitting a feral, ferocious and terrifying combination snarl/roar/howl. A snoarl if you will. For a horrifying second I thought he got a piece of her throat or maybe her nose, but by the grace of God he air-snapped. Then I looked in my sideview mirror and saw a bunch papers floating from the heavens and onto the street. I swear it looked like 9/11 back there, sheets just fluttering everywhere.

And there, in the midst of the document shower stood an angry businesswoman, hands on hips, glaring at my departing car and the savage canine contained within.

Sparky? He was wagging his tail and smiling at me like, “Heh-heh. Got her good, didn’t I dad?”

Oh yeah, Spark. You got her alright. Good.

I probably should have rounded the block and gone back to apologize, but the look on the woman’s face told me that might not be a good idea. I turned on Paint Street and finally hit a light, just sitting there shaking my head at my crazy-ass but extremely loyal and lovable dog. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see a guy pull up beside me. It’s a 30ish dude and there are tears in his eyes from laughing. He pounds the steering wheel and says, “That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a woman in heels jump that high in my life! Papers everywhere! I gotta get me a dog like that!”

Sorry buddy, but you can’t. There’s only one dog like that, and I got him.

Just another day in my life with Sparky.

SPARKY VS. THE COYOTE

SparkLogoThis evening I had the scare of my life. Sparky had a scrap with a coyote. You heard that right – a COYOTE. Here’s what happened . . .

Spark and I like to walk up around the new housing development north of Bourneville, across from the graveyard. There are only two houses there so far, but the street circles off of Twin Road and connects back with it again, so it makes for a nice evening walk. I never have him on a leash when we go there, since Sparky is generally well-behaved. Well, unless he sees a squirrel or something with feathers. Other animals, like other dogs or a cat, don’t usually illicit much interest.

So around 6:00 this evening we’re on the back side of the development, enjoying the nice weather. I have a long walking stick in case we’d run into a groundhog or something, as you never know for certain how my pooch could react to something unusual.

It’s not odd for Sparky to go darting into the fields around my house if he sees something of interest, so it wasn’t a big deal when Spark stopped and perked up his ears.

Then, however, the growling began. I’d heard it before, most notably the night we thought somebody was trying to get into our back door.

I followed Sparky’s sightline back into the woods, and just over the crest of a hill, about 30-yards away, I saw it – the head of a coyote, staring at us.

What the hell, didn’t they wait until dark to go out hunting?

Before I could grab him, Sparky made his charge. All I could think of was stories I’d read of one coyote acting as bait, luring another animal into a trap, a pack of coyotes. I mean, Spark is one tough hombre, but I could see he might be getting in a little over his head here.

Bottom line, I was terrified. Sparky was way ahead of me and I couldn’t see the coyote any more. I just ran as fast as I could after my best friend, yelling for him to come back:

“Sparky!”

“SPARKY!!!”

Nothing.

I burst through some underbrush into a clearing and stopped. It was eerily quiet, and for a second I didn’t know which way to go. Then, to my left I heard it – barking and growling, the obvious noises of a fight. I knew that one of the voices I heard was Sparky’s, and I headed that way. I swear to God I expected to find him being torn to shreds by a pack of snarling coyotes.

Instead, when I got to where I thought I’d heard the fight there was nothing. Again, it was oddly quiet. I stood there, desperately trying to hear something, anything.

123

Silence. I thought I’d lost him for good.

Except then, strutting out of some bushes like he’d just saved my life, was my pint-sized, fearless friend.

Then he rolled over for a belly-rub.

Ain’t no thing, dad. Just went to war with a Hound from Hell. What’s for dinner?

I picked him up and gave him a thorough going over, checking for bites or scratches. Alas, nothing. He was fine.

And I was too relieved to even be mad at him.

But boy, did he scare the hell out of me. And let’s just say the leash will be used the next time we take that particular route.

Life with Sparky. It is never, ever boring.

But damn it, Sparky!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SPARKY!

Three years ago today I was visiting a friend in Kentucky when a little 20-pound, 4-legged SparkySmiledynamo came into my life. It was the morning and I was in the backyard rubbing a horse on the nose when I first heard him. In the distance I heard a yapping, and it was getting closer by the second. I looked to my left and there he came, charging down a hill like a bat out of hell. He came to a fence but leaped through it without slowing down.

As he approached I thought he would surely leap up, take a bite out of my throat and kill me. But alas, I got down on my knees and he just ran up, rolled over, and let me rub his belly. Thus began a relationship that would change my life as I know it.

It was a week or so later that I got a call telling me that he had run into a bit of trouble, his family was looking for somebody to take him in, and they thought I might be interested.

After about 3-seconds of thought, I agreed to adopt the little dog named Sparky.

You probably need to know that I had gone through a break-up a few months earlier, and for the first time in a long time I was living by myself. To say that Sparky proceeded to fill a void is quite an understatement.

He soon became my constant companion, confidant, and best friend. He listened when I needed an understanding ear, he never left my side, and yes, he loved me unconditionally.

Sparky didn’t care about my hang-ups, inadequacies or shortcomings. He didn’t care that I was impatient or wasn’t a great listener.

He loved me just the way I am.

Sparky and I celebrate 3-years together today, and to be honest I don’t know what I’d do without him. I love that little dog more than anything, and that’s a fact.

He came along at exactly the right time, and he was exactly what I needed.

Happy Birthday Spark. I love you.

SELLING SPARKY

As I was writing my story about Sparky on his birthday I was reminded of something that SparkyAlerthappened a year or so ago. I’m not really sure why I haven’t told it before, perhaps I was a little concerned about people’s reactions to it, I don’t know. I’m sure a some of you will think I’m a complete idiot after reading it, but ultimately I don’t really care.

Like I said, a year or so ago I got an email from a woman in California, Los Angeles to be exact. She had read all my stories about Sparky and was very interested in him. She informed me that her job was to search for animals, in particular dogs, with a “high level of intelligence.” She said when she found a candidate she would take it for a few days, run it through a series of tests, and determine it’s intelligence level. If she found what she was looking for, she would offer to buy the dog and sell it to be used for things like bomb-sniffing, rescue operations, guiding the blind, but mostly for TV and movies.

She said that from everything I’d written about Sparky, she suspected very strongly that he was exactly what she was looking for. She said she’d found hundreds of dogs over the years and he fit the description of what she needed perfectly. She then offered to fly me to California, and if her suspicions were correct, she’d offer me a minimum of $50,000.00 for my dog.

Wow.

$50,000.00.

50 G’s.

50 Grand.

Man, could I use $50,000.00. Plus, I knew that once she met Spark she’d offer more if I bargained with her. Hey, I’d given Sparky those online dog intelligence tests and he always got a perfect score. Spark’s always been off the charts.

Did I mention that $50,000.00+ is a lot of money?

Man, I had to give this a lot of thought, and I did.

If you consider 2 1/2 seconds of thought “a lot.”

Because it wasn’t happening. No. Freaking. Way. I told her there was no price she could offer me that I would accept. Oh, she tried to convince me otherwise, but it soon became apparent to her that she was fighting a losing battle.

Because you can’t put a price on certain things. You know, like loyalty and unconditional love. Plus I could have never just handed him over and walked away in a million years. Couldn’t do it. Wouldn’t do it.

Ever.

After all, take a look at that photo at the top of this story. Could anyone simply take a check and walk away from that face? Not me.

So attention all people searching for highly intelligent dogs – mine isn’t for sale.

At any price.

SPARKY 173, THUNDERSTORMS 0

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Many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms. They hate thunder and lightning. Some even hide behind the couch or under the bed.

Sparky? Not so much.

When he hears thunder-boomers what does he do? He begs to be let out, and when he’s free he goes on the attack. He races pell-mell, full tilt and headlong into the mix, yapping and growling at the skies above, just raising holy hell.

Spark wants a piece of whatever is making that hellacious noise.

And in Sparky’s mind, he always wins. Because sooner or later the beast that is making the ruckus goes away, all because The Spark drove it off with his hell-raising Tazmanian Devil routine.

And afterwards, he inevitably comes strutting back in as if he saved me, and the world, from some horrifying fate worse than death.

Me? I always praise him for his fearless, life-saving effort.

Thanks Spark!

SPARKY VS. THE FEATHERED MENACE

So I ran into The Krog yesterday to pick up some necessities. When I go grocery shopping one thing is a constant – I never make the right choice for carrying everything I buy. If I take nothing I inevitably need a basket. If I choose a basket I should’ve taken a shopping cart. Because of this I’m constantly overloading and dropping stuff on the floor, much to the consternation of Kroger employees. Today I chose a basket and it was so full I dropped a 2-liter bottle of pop, twice. I’d filled the basket to the brim so I had the pop under my arm, hence the droppage. After that I dropped a big bottle of Listerine and in the process scared the bejesus out of an old woman in front of me. Bottom line, I always underestimate what I’m about to buy.

On a related note, because I refuse to make more than one trip from Jeep to house I’m pretty sure I’m the world record holder for amount of grocery bags carried at one time. My personal best is 15, so beat that suckers.

But on to the point of this blog. Like I said, I grabbed some necessities and when I brought them back to the Jeep Sparky was unusually interested in the grocery bags. He was sniffing and whimpering like a live chicken was in one of the bags or something. While he was a little over the top, I just assumed he was smelling his beloved Cheesehead All-Natural String Cheese, a noted Spark favorite.

This behavior continued when I got home, to the point of becoming annoying. He was doing his famous Sparky dance, hopping on his hind legs while waving his front paws at me like a lunatic. It was when I put the grocery bags on the floor that everything became clear. Spark reached in and grabbed his target with the speed of a mongoose, making off with it and running into the bedroom.

Was it the cheese? The lunch meat? Hell nah. It was a menacing, life-threatening item I’d purchased in the cleaning aisle. It was a dreaded, evil feather duster.

Spark had snatched the offending beast in his jaws and carried it to the bedroom in the blink of an eye, attacking it with a vengeance heretofore only seen when a fat kid consumed a carnival corn dog.

After a short battle I wrestled the monster away from him and tucked in safely in a closet, only to watch Spark paw at the bottom of the door until I lured him away with a cheese doodle.

What can I say? It had to be the feathers. Sparky’s hatred for feathered-creatures has been well-documented, and perhaps he detected the scent of peacock or something.

Yep, somewhere in Sparky’s past he must have had a historic confrontation with some pterodactyl-like beast or perhaps a canary.

But man, does Sparky hate anything with wings or feathers.

Note: Yes, I bought a feather duster. Deal with it.

ghfjh

SPARKY VS. THE HOBOS

SparkGame2

That image to your right may be the last thing a future hobo may see.

I’m not particularly proud of this, but Sparky’s not a fan of the homeless. Well, maybe not homeless people per se, but beggars in general. God, that sounds horrible. I swear Spark’s not a bad dog, he just has an ongoing War with the Hobos. It’s weird, because he’ll run up to anybody with his tail a waggin’, but if he sees a guy standing by the road with a sign asking for a handout he becomes unhinged. Seriously, he just goes to another place, and that place ain’t the land of unicorns, bunny rabbits and teddy bears.

Today I was going to The Walmart to pick up some stuff.

Note: Sorry, but a lot of things have THE before it with me. I had an uncle who prefaced everything with THE. For instance, He once told me that he heard Freddie Mercury had THE AIDS, and another time he told me I had an aunt who had THE CANCER. Hence the THE before a lot of stuff. Deal with it. 

Anyway, I’m cruising down Bridge Street, getting ready to turn right onto the road that leads to The WalMart. The window is down with it being a nice day and all, and I thought Spark might enjoy the fresh air and smells of the beautiful day.

Turns out he smelled something, and the beautiful day it wasn’t.

As we cross the bridge, a low growl emits from the throat of my best friend. He has spotted a hobo, from 300-yards away.  Keep in mind we’d driven through town and passed several innocent pedestrians, to which he’d never batted a canine eye. Other than that lady in the power suit he scared the living hell out of a few months ago, he rarely barks at people on the street.

Hobos and beggars asking for handouts? Yeah, different story.

The window went up.

So he’s working up a lather at the mere sight of this drifter dude, and when I make a right turn toward the guy Spark becomes an enraged ball of pissed-off puppery (I’m pretty sure that’s not a word but it’s my site and I don’t care. It sounds cool.) He’s bouncing off the rear interior of the car like a furry pinball, all the while snarling and yapping like he’s possessed by the ghost of Cujo.

My head is whipping back-and-forth like Linda Blair in The Exorcist as I try to calm Spark down and drive at the same time, but he’s a dog on a mission, and that mission is to apparently rip the throat out of an unsuspecting roadside tramp.

The closer we get, the more agitated and unglued my dog becomes. What is it with my sweet and loyal little Jack Russell Terrier and these panhandlers? I don’t get it. Was he menaced by a bearded and smelly dog-hater at some point? Does he not like Duck Dynasty style beards? Does he somehow sense they’re running a scam? Does he hate people looking for helping hand? Wait. Horror of horrors, is my dog a right-wing conservative?

As we passed the vagrant, Spark took it up one more notch and actually threw himself against the car window, and I was watched in the rearview mirror the poor guy actually took a step backwards as if expecting Spark to come hurtling through the window, knock him down, pull a vein out of his neck and kill him.

For a second I almost rolled my window gown to give the hobo a “Sorry man!” wave but I instantly realized Spark would take advantage of that opportunity way too quickly. He was a pup possessed.

The window stayed up.

I actually parked at the far end of the Walmart lot, lest Mr. Hobo Hater catch a glimpse of his mortal enemy while I was inside and lose his gourd. Still, I turned around and checked several times before I went inside, half expecting to see the door pop open and Spark make a mad charge across the lot, roaring as he went in for the slaughter.

Thankfully, our roadside adversary was gone by the time we left, thus I avoided another riveting episode of Sparky vs. The Roadside Vagabond. Again, I have no idea why my beloved companion has such an aversion to these people, but I have to roll with it because, well, what choice do I have? I love the little guy.

So, you guys standing by the road with signs? You have been warned. And you’d better hope I remember to keep my windows up.

SPARKY AND THE HORSEFLY FROM HELL

I was taking The Spark for a walk today when we encountered the Horsefly from Hell. I mean this gjgtugjthing was the size of a sparrow, and it came out of nowhere, just relentless in its efforts to kill me. Horseflies try to bite you for your blood, you know that, right? Well, this one thought my bald head looked mighty tasty, because he would not cease in his vicious attack. I first felt it on the back of my head and I swatted it away, thinking that was the end of it.

No chance.

The monster kept circling and dive-bombing me, trying its best to get a piece of my flesh. I was swatting and punching at it as I did a series of pirouettes, leaps and punches. I was also yelling at it, which seems a bit silly now. I don’t know, do horseflies even have ears? If this one did he sure wasn’t listening.

All the while Sparky was leaping up and down himself, snapping at the winged-beast and trying to bring it down from its deadly arc.

At one point the horsefly made a direct charge for my face and I knocked it away, but not before hitting myself in the nose so hard it brought tears to my eyes.

Damn, that hurt.

Finally the behemoth made a costly mistake – it flew within The Spark’s range. Sparky timed his leap perfectly, pogoed up like a furry canine bouncy ball, and snatched the freak from the sky.

It was instant death. Spark then picked up the carcass and whipped it away with a toss of his head, dismissing the mutant for the trash that it was.

As I bent over checking for injuries both self-inflicted and otherwise, Sparky trotted over, rose up and licked my nose, telling me that all was well and he’d saved me once again.

Good dog Sparky. Good dog.

SparkySmile

IT’S SPARKY’S WORLD AND I’M JUST LIVING IN IT

Damn it, Sparky!

Damn it, Sparky!

So I’m in Chillicothe the other day doing some shopping, and as I pulled into the lot of a local mall I notice that I’ve parked 2-cars down from a jeep nearly identical to the one I drive. Same year, same color, same bug guard, same rain guards. As I parked it crossed my mind that I’d probably come back out and attempt to get in the wrong jeep, being the moron that I am. However, I quickly forgot about it as I walked into a store.

Probably 10-minutes later (I’m a quick shopper – real quick) as I was exiting the store I saw a woman walking towards the two jeeps and carrying some bags of clothes or something. For some reason I stopped and watched, because I had a weird feeling she was going to do what I thought I’d do – pick the wrong vehicle.

Sure enough, since my jeep was closer to the store she walked right towards it. She hit her remote keyless entry, assumed she’d unlocked her jeep, and grabbed the door handle.

I don’t know if she saw or heard the Fury of the Spark first. From my vantage point I saw a blurry, enraged Canine from Hell slam against the window as my loyal companion threw himself toward the intruder. The windows were cracked, so I also heard a snarling, growling sound that Spark usually reserves only for winged-creatures, hobos, and the occasional lady in a power suit.

As I hung back and watched, the lady screeched and stumbled backwards into the side of a 1999 Dodge Ram Pickup, dropping a bag in the process. And of this I can’t be certain, but I’m 77% sure she may have wet her pants.

For a few seconds she stared at the jeep, uncertain how an obviously rabies-infested Jack Russell Terrier had broken into her vehicle and attempted to rip her throat out. In the meantime Spark was running from the front seats to the rear window, raising hell all the while, growling and yapping and looking for a way out in order to assassinate this hideous monster who was trying to break into his dad’s jeep.

Somehow, someway, the woman got herself together enough to look into my jeep (albeit from a distance of approximately 10-feet) and ascertain that she had indeed chosen the wrong car in which to enter. Trust me when I say she took a wide berth when going around my vehicle to her own.

As for me, I stayed well back until she was long gone. When I walked to my jeep, however, Sparky barked and let me know all was well as he looked out the window in the direction of the parting would-be car thief.

What can I say? Sparky has my back. And also my property.

Good dog, Sparky. Good dog.

I can only pray he never figures out how to operate the door handles

OPERATION TOY RESCUE AND THE SWEEPER FROM HELL

This is the latest in a hopefully long series about Sparky, my Jack Russell Terrier who is with me as a result of some carnage involving chickens down in Kentucky. For the record, Spark has steadfastly denied involvement. Poultry bloodbath aside, the little canine dynamo has been a godsend and, as such, changed my life as I knew it.

All dogs hate sweepers, I know that. But my sweeper, at least according to Sparky, is the Life Sucking Toy Stealing Food Grabbing Water Burgling Raging Beast from The Netherworld. You see, when I get the sweeper out all hell breaks loose. Sparky goes into attack mode, with a dash of SWAT Team tossed in for good measure. As I sweep, the sweeper is repeatedly assailed from different angles. Spark seems to enjoy going for the wheels in particular. He seems to know that if he disables the wheels the horrific entity will be rendered nonfunctional. Sparky hates the wheels.

But here’s the thing. In between these dive-bomb kamikaze blitzes are periodic raids to save all that is Sparky’s. First, a buzz-through to grab his beloved Loofa Dog from the bed. The Loofa is always first. This is accomplished by vaulting over the sweeper (this is completely unnecessary, he totally goes out of his way to do this), bounding on the bed, grabbing the Loofa, springing back off the bed (twice as far as he needs to bound by the way), back over the sweeper (again unnecessarily) before escaping into the living room where the precious Loofa Dog is tucked under a pillow on the couch. Can’t let the Deadly Sweeper Fiend from Hell suck the Loofa into its Jaws of Death, now can we? This process is repeated with his other favorite toy, the Squeaky Duck, as well as various tennis balls, pull toys, an unfinished nylabone, a pine cone he brought in from the yard, and a pair of my boxers I’d left on the bed. Thanks Spark.

But yesterday Sparky took this ritual to a new level. After he’d extricated his possessions (and one of mine) from harm and certain destruction, he grabbed his food dish and took it into the living room, where it was then placed safely behind a chair. What he did next, however, surprised even me. He has one of those gallon water jugs that filters water into his bowl, which usually lasts a few days. I glance over and he’s trying to drag it into the next room. No way the monster was going to deprive Sparky of his water. There was also no way was he going to pull that off without major spillage so I had to make an executive decision and exert my power as Head of the House.

I shut down his act. Regretfully.

Actually it was so cute to watch I felt sorry for him and moved it for him, but that’s neither here nor there. My best friend is completely spoiled not spoiled.

So as you can see, cleaning the house at my place is not as mundane a process as it is in other households. It is, in fact, a blur of furry fury.

Sparky.

I can’t remember what life was like without him. Thank God he killed those chickens.

Allegedly.

HOW DO I KNOW WHAT SPARKY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS? BECAUSE HE TOLD ME.

Seriously. He told me.

Listen, I expect approximately 9-people who read this to believe me, and those are all dog-loving freaks such as myself. I could literally name the people right now who will respond and say as much. As for the rest of you, I know you’ll think I’m batshit crazy, and I won’t blame you a bit.

As anyone who lives alone with a dog can tell you, after awhile you begin treating your dog like a human. By the way, is that an oxymoron or what? You can’t live alone if you have a dog. Anyway, most of the stuff is normal, like, “Do you want to go outside?” or“Do you want a treat?” You know, regular  things you say to a dog.

However, when it’s just you and the dog I think you sort of take your communication up a notch.

For instance, I’ve actually made the following comments to Sparky with a straight face:

“Stay here Spark. I’m going to go throw a load in the washer.”

“Spark, can give me your thoughts on the European Debt Crisis?”

“Well, what did you think, Spark? Should I ask her out again?”

You know, stuff like that. I respect Spark’s opinion, especially regarding that last one.

Keep this in mind as I recount my latest Sparky Experience. This morning I was in the bedroom getting dressed. The TV was on, a commercial came on that for some reason reminded me of Christmas. Just making conversation, I said,“Christmas is in a couple weeks Spark. What do you want this year?”

Sparky then looks at me, cocks his head, and runs over to a basket on the other side of the room where we keep his toys. Then he digs to the bottom and pulls something out. The next thing I see in front of me is this:

SparkSnowman1

That’s the snowman toy I gave Spark for Christmas last year. This actually happened. I just sat there with mouth open, looking at him.

Like I said, he told me what he wants for Christmas.

I know there are a lot of people who scoff at us dog lovers and our stories of how smart our pooches are, but I’d like one of the skeptics to step up and explain this one. Did the word “Christmas” set off something in his brain? Had to, right? Somehow, he made the connection.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do some Christmas shopping.

SPARKY TAKES FLIGHT

1I’m sorry, I’m trying to cut back on the Sparky stories but stuff keeps happening. What can I say, Spark’s a whirling dervish of action, a surprise a minute. Having said that, he almost gave me a coronary today.

Here’s the deal . . .

I had some errands to run in town and of course Sparky came along. He has a new car seat that lets him look out the window while lying down in it. I know, I know, he’s spoiled but it was a gift and it’s pretty cool to boot. He likes to stick his head out the window like most dogs, so to safeguard I hook him to his leash and put the other end over the gearshift.

So we were cruising down a backroad at about 40-miles per hour when a squirrel cut in front of me. It was about 20-feet in front of the car so I had a chance to slow down a little to let it pass. What happened next was a blur, a flash, and horrific all at the same time. Sparky vaulted out the window like a hound possessed in pursuit of the squirrel. It was as if he was shot out of a cannon, not even kidding. I swear he’s ridiculously intelligent, but apparently the smarts, along with Sparky, go out the window when a critter is on the run.

I hit the brakes as Sparky hit the ground. Thank God he wears a harness because if the leash had been attached to a collar The Spark’s neck may have been broken. Come to think of it we’re lucky nobody was behind us as well. Anyway, I see the leash snap tight but it holds, so I take it off the gearshift as I open the passenger door, expecting the worst. What I got was Sparky jumping back up in his seat like nothing particularly unusual had happened, as if leaping out of a moving car was perfectly normal. At that point he got a terrier ass-ripping, so he retreated to the back seat to avoid the verbal onslaught. No worries, I hurt his feelings for about 12-seconds, then he was back to his cocky little self. A few minutes later I pulled over in a parking lot to check him for injuries, and incredibly he seemed to be fine. Well, except for a weird black smudge over his tail. Not a clue where that came from.

All in all, just another day in my life with Sparky. Whew.

SPARKY VS. THE SEA MONSTER

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The first sign of trouble was the perking of the ears.

As we walked along the desolate beach, my beloved companion Sparky stopped, turned towards the ocean, and stared.

Something was amiss.

Before I could react, The Spark sprung into action. He bolted towards the surf, entering the water and pogoing over the waves like a hound possessed, then swimming past the breakers. Then, to my horror, he went under, diving headfirst into the abyss.

For a moment, the world was deathly quiet. Somewhere overhead, a gull called.

Suddenly, the silence was broken when a giant sea creature burst forth from the drink. At first I thought it was a stingray, but I soon realized it was a skate, a similar and equally dangerous undersea leviathan.

But where was my best friend and beloved companion? My mind was filled with worst case scenarios, endgames I not dare contemplate.

What I witnessed next will be etched in my mind forever.

Erupting from the sea came a furry, wet ball of canine fury, teeth gnashing, gutteral growls emitting from his very being. He leapt upon the sea creature’s back, grabbed its tail with his vice-like jaws, and proceeded to surf the animal towards the shoreline upon a huge wave.

Upon arrival at shore, he wrestled the animal away from the ocean, whipped it over his head by its tail and body-slammed it, then proceeded to end the fight with a vicious and ultimately fatal bite to the beast’s spine.

At that point Sparky stood with one foot on the head of the skate, head raised high as he stood with great pride over his vanquished opponent.

The battle had ended and The Spark had emerged victorious, thus saving me from a brutal and horrific death had I entered the sea.

Good dog, Spark. Good dog.

Note: We actually came upon a dead skate on the beach. Spark seemed proud, as if he had something to do with its demise. Hence, this story. Have a good day.

Note 2: Perhaps that is a ray. I can’t tell.

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Scanning the perimeter for seagulls.

So I got Sparky a little over a month ago, and since that time we’ve been together constantly. We travelled down to Oak Island, up the coast to the Outer Banks, and back home in a little 10-day excursion. When we’ve been home he pretty much goes with me everywhere, except when it’s going to be too hot and he can’t stay in the car. And you know, when you spend a lot of time with somebody you learn a lot about them. Here are a few things I’ve learned about Sparky so far.

Sparky hates things that fly. As a matter of fact if you were to believe his accusers he hates anything with wings, as he may or may not have been involved in a chicken massacre back in his hometown. But that’s neither here nor there. Details are unclear and nothing was proven. Still, I do know with certainty that in a little over a month since I’ve had him, Sparky has gone after seagulls, sandpipers, sparrows, gnats, flies, crows, moths,  mosquitoes, my mom’s parakeet, an entire cage of assorted birds at PetCo, and a kid on the beach pretending to be an airplane. What’s interesting is that he can take or leave a cat, he doesn’t really give a damn. If it has wings, though, he’s going after it with murderous intent.

Sparky will chase anything that runs. O.K., remember what I just said about cats? That’s true . . . unless they run. Same for rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, or rhinoceroses. Size is of no consequence. If you run you will be pursued. Seriously, if an animal just sits there he’ll pay it no mind. If it runs? All hell breaks loose. The chase is on, and something must die. Now.

Note to self: Don’t take Sparky to track meets.

On Hobo Watch.

Sparky hates hobos. Regular people he has no problem with. But you know those guys who stand by the road out at WalMart with the signs begging for money? Sparky has no tolerance for those dudes. I had the window down as I cruised by one of them and thank God I had his leash on because Sparky went for it. And when I say “it” I mean the jugular. He lunged right out the window at the guy, and I thought for a second he was going for the sign, but then to my horror I realized he was going for the throat. Luckily I pulled him back in before blood was spilled. Either Sparky hates hobos or the guy smelled like chicken.

Sparky would rather jump than walk, always. I have a couch and a chair that are about 5-feet apart. If Sparky is on the couch and I am on the chair he invariably attempts the leap to get to me rather than simply hop down and trot over. Walk around a 4-foot wall? No way. Spark’s going over the top, and more often that not he makes it. In addition, if he wants something he’ll do a series of vertical pogo jumps straight up and down, practically looking me in the eye at his apex. Dude has a helluva set of hops.

Sparky has the reflexes of a mongoose. Well, at least when I throw cheese balls at him. You know, the little cheese puff balls you get in those industrial size plastic jars. I tell him to get on a chair, say “stay”, back away about 20-feet, and fire away. I’m telling you I can’t get a cheese ball by him. For fun I’ll lob some pop-ups for awhile, then just zip a line-drive at him for a change of pace.  He never misses. I’d say he has a 99.2% field percentage. Amazing.

And oh, you may want to avoid rushing towards me. Sparky gets a little tense when I’m approached in a hasty way. He perceives it as a threat to his best friend. Rush at him? No problem. Rush at me? Problem. He gets j-u-s-t a little protective. You’ll see a lot of growling and showing of teeth and whatnot. So, fair warning, approach respectfully and you’ll be treated thusly. You may even want to bow or even go to one knee first. Just a suggestion. And you know, it’s about time somebody understood the respect with which I should be treated.

Thanks Sparky.

Stunning.

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So I ran into The Krog yesterday to pick up some necessities. When I go SparkyCargrocery shopping one thing is a constant – I never make the right choice for carrying everything I buy. If I take nothing I inevitably need a basket. If I choose a basket I should’ve taken a shopping cart. Because of this I’m constantly overloading and dropping stuff on the floor, much to the consternation of Kroger employees. Today I chose a basket and it was so full I dropped a 2-liter bottle of pop, twice. I’d filled the basket to the brim so I had the pop under my arm, hence the droppage. After that I dropped a big bottle of Listerine and in the process scared the bejesus out of an old woman in front of me. Bottom line, I always underestimate what I’m about to buy.

On a related note, because I refuse to make more than one trip from Jeep to house I’m pretty sure I’m the world record holder for amount of grocery bags carried at one time. My personal best is 15, so beat that suckers.

But on to the point of this blog. Like I said, I grabbed some necessities and when I brought them back to the Jeep Sparky was unusually interested in the grocery bags. He was sniffing and whimpering like a live chicken was in one of the bags or something. While he was a little over the top, I just assumed he was smelling his beloved Cheesehead Lite All-Natural String Cheese*, a noted Spark favorite.

*Sparky’s on a diet but doesn’t know it. Keep that between us.

This behavior continued when I got home, to the point of becoming annoying. He was doing his famous Sparky dance, hopping on his hind legs while waving his front paws at me like a lunatic. It was when I put the grocery bags on the floor that everything became clear. Spark reached in and grabbed his target with the speed of a mongoose, making off with it and running into the bedroom.

Was it the cheese? The lunch meat? Hell nah. It was a menacing, life-threatening item I’d purchased in the cleaning aisle. It was a dreaded, evil feather duster.

Spark had snatched the offending beast in his jaws and carried it to the bedroom in the blink of an eye, attacking it with a vengeance heretofore only seen when a fat kid consumed a carnival corn dog.

After a short battle I wrestled the monster away from him and tucked it safely in a closet, only to watch Spark paw at the bottom of the door until I lured him away with a cheese doodle.

What can I say? It had to be the feathers. Sparky’s hatred for feathered-creatures has been well-documented, and perhaps he detected the scent of a peacock or something.

Yep, somewhere in Sparky’s past he must have had a historic confrontation with some pterodactyl-like beast, or perhaps a canary.

But man, does Sparky hate anything with wings or feathers.

Note: Yes, I bought a feather duster. Deal with it.

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