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BREAKING NEWS … !

20 Apr

BREAKING NEWS: Animal Federation employs MOAB* to send message to imminent domain residents.

SUGAR MTN, NC — The Western North Carolina Chapter of the Wild Animal Federation sent a definite message to residents of Chestnut Ridge in Sugar Mountain last night.

The message? GET OUT!

“We were here first,” said chapter spokes-“person” Pogo, an opossum elected by the Wild Animal Federation to represent their complaints.

“These interlopers, not to be confused with cantalopers or antelopers, forced their way onto our reservation without so much as a how-do-you-do. It’s gone on way too long. We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to put up with it any longer!”

Bud, the bad-ass black bear who is the Enforcer of the group, volunteered to do the deed, which was under the cover of night.

“Sure, come sneaking up in the dark. Pretty cowardly if you ask me,” said one of two year-round residents.

“Fine with me,” said the other year-round resident, who asked to remain anonymous. “I got my 30-ought-6 loaded and at the window if they want to test me!”

“It’s not only the bears,” said the first residents. “Deer, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and crazy-ass Robins have colluded to make this serene and picturesque area a place of potential carnage! What we NEED is a wall to keep these critters OUT!”

Both sides have been reluctant to come to the bargaining table.

“Just look at me!” complained Bud, the alleged perpetrator of last night’s melee. “I’ve put on 183 pounds this month due to all of the sugar and fat these humans have tossed! It’s not only unHEALTHY for ME, it’s a cruel kind of baiting I think has got to stop. Look at all the damn bird feeders, for crissakes! There’s not a wren or a titmouse for miles around able to fend for themself anymore. They’ve all become dependant. It’s like — here’s some free and easy bird seed — come and get it! Then, in the winter, these snowbirds fly south and take their birdfeeders with them! That’s as bad as giving away a free hit of heroine, if you ask me!”

The decades-old battle between squatters (how the animals refer to the humans) and animals is not likely to find resolution any time soon.

“They are just not like us,” murmured Bud under his garbage breath.

“Animals is what they are!” replied one of the year-round residents.

*Mother of all Bears

 

Garbage carnage as a result of MOAB attack during last night’s raid

 

Why I no longer show who is following my blog

21 Jul

Why I no longer post who is following my blog

 

I really enjoy knowing that people out there in Blogland like and follow my work. It is gratifying, boosts my aging ego and encourages me to continue adding to my repertoire of writing.

What I don’t care for are the now multiple business blogs that like or follow my blog in hopes to pick up a customer.

When a person follows my blog, I make it a point to visit that blog site to thank that person for deciding my work is valuable enough to them that they want to get notifications of my uploads.

I know everything I write is not for everyone. Not even for me. For example, I’m not too keen on posting this particular blog.

What prompted this post is that I received a notification of a follow from a blog site that contains explicit pornography.

I just recently posted a piece my 9-year-old granddaughter wrote. If I publicized those that follow me, and she were to go onto my site and inadvertently click on that site’s symbol — WHOA! Papa Skip! What’s this?

I also had a teacher who wanted to use my poem “The first step” as part of the graduation ceremonies for her GED class. She wanted to post a link to my blog on her own teacher’s website.

Again — WHOA! Etc.

Unless you can tell me differently, there is no way to block someone or some company from following you. And if you use the widget that lists those that follow your blog, there’s a good chance that follower could appear on your front page. And if it appears on your front page, it’s tantamount to an endorsement by you.

So, if you are using the widget that displays followers, you might want to make sure that you are okay with the content of that follower’s blog, because it could work its way to your home page, and you would be endorsing that site.

To all the folk that have followed my work — or are not businesses or not explicit pornographic sites — thanks for the follow, but understand why I’m not opting to display the icons of followers.

I can’t do anything about those who “like” my work — but do wish I could. My granddaughter, you know.

No offense to those businesses and porno blogs meant.

SM (which does not stand for “sadomasochist”)

 

UPDATE:

I did  comment on the pornographic site and requested that they unfriend me, and explained why. Within a few minutes they complied.

UNFAIR!

24 Jun

 

 

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UNFAIR!

AMERICANS TIED BY PORTUGAL

IN FINAL TICKS

OF WORLD CUP MATCH!!!

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

You might be tempted to conclude that the 2-2 draw between the U.S. and Portugal in World Cup soccer play last week was unfair. If you are an American, that is.

That’s the word some sports commentators are using — even saying the U.S. “deserved to win.”

I’m sure the Portuguese aren’t saying that. Nor the Germans nor the Brazilians, nor any other country competing in the event. Maybe the U.K. is.

We Americans have this thought if we play with all our heart and go beyond expectations, we should come out ahead. We “deserve” success.

The harsh reality of life is it doesn’t work that way. Never has, never will.

If the determining factors in success were will and heart, then:

The South would have won the War Between the States;
LeBron would be wearing his third NBA Championship ring;
California Chrome would be the latest Triple Crown winner.

Yogi Berra, famed New York Yankee catcher and manager, said “It ain’t till it’s over.” That’s the size of it.

The final bell.

The final tick.

The fat lady sings.

We lost. Fair and square.

Was it a shame? Not to the Portuguese. Remember, the same scenario existed against Ghana in the preceding game the U.S. played — only the U.S. was the team that benefitted. Final ticks. Boom!

Don’t remember hearing complaints by the media over the disheartening loss the Ghanaians experienced. Only the repeated fact that it was the Ghanaians who ended the American soccer dream in the previous World Cup. They deserved to lose, apparently. Bad Ghanaians!

Now the U.S. soccer coach is setting up an excuse if we lose to Germany based on miles the Americans had to travel to play their matches. Nearly twice the distance as the Germans. And the venues in hot, sultry conditions.

What if General Lee complained that the North had all the factories and population, and that the Union generals all drank to excess?

What if LeBron said the broken air conditioning in San Antonio for Game 1 was why the Heat lost to the Spurs, which led to the three straight losses by double figures?

What if the owner of California Chrome complained that many of the horses at The Belmont hadn’t run the previous two links of the Triple Crown? Oh, come to think of it, he did!

Two wildly popular phrases in American conversation today are “at the end of the day,” and, “it is what it is.”

Are there times when life is unfair?

Of course. Bad calls by officials. Bad breaks. Bad whatever . . . karma?

We all know that. In our own lives and work.

Good things don’t always come in our direction, in spite of our efforts, our enthusiasm, and how much we might deserve them*.

Loss is loss. It hurts. I don’t like it — and bet you don’t either.

It comes with the territory. It is the potential of participation.

Only way not to lose is not to play.

So, buck up American soccer fans. There’s another game coming. And another. And another.

At the end of the day, it is what it is.

 

 

*I find it interesting that sometimes the victors state, “First I want to thank God who gave us this victory!” God apparently loves the Seahawks. God hates (in the words of the Westboro Baptist Church members) the Broncos.

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 24 June, 2014

 

 

What does that even mean?

27 May

 

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What does that even mean?

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

I’m distracted from my administrative work on account it’s your fault! Indirectly.

Today, last night, or somewhere in between, somebody hit the follow button on my website.

Whoever you are, it’s okay. Really, you could blame all the 699 or so other people who hit the follow button before you did. And I’m sure your action was not premeditated.

Regardless, that puts me over 700 followers.

What the hell does that even mean?

In an ant colony, it means that a zillion little exoskeleton buggers are lined up nose to butt and going somewhere.

Do they care where they are going?

Do they ask the next guy, “Pardon me, do you know where we’re headed, for God’s sake?” (That guy, by the way, sounds like Woody Allen. Or Dave Foley).

That’s a helluva onus!

What if, like when Jesus healed the guy who was crackers and the herd of pigs went bezerk? What if I ran and leaped over a cliff and all of you followers went too?

What if my real name is Jim Jones?

Or, worse (given I might call you guys the 700 Club), what if my name was Pat Robertson?

Jeesh!

So, I’m startin’ to feel some power here! Some leverage! Maybe a movement, no less!

Maybe one day I’ll write “JUMP!,” and I’ll get 600 comments asking “How high?”

Maybe not 600. Probably more like six. If any.

But, I do appreciate the gesture of someone saying they are going to follow me, even if it doesn’t pan out. I mean, you gotta have a split personality to follow more than one person at a time. Am I right? (Chorus responds: Yes! You’re right!)

I mean, following is a whole lot better than “like,” right? Don’t you get tired of all those “likes?”

That does nothing for me. I keep asking, “What the hell do you like?” (Someone’s going to like this post — guaranteed!)

Remember in junior high? Okay — middle school? Remember when a friend would come up to you and tell you that Johnny or Suzy (or both, these days) likes you? And you replied, Yeah? Tell them I like them too?

And then you were “dating,” but you never went anywhere or did anything that even resembles a date?

I think if I could time travel and go back to that time in my life, and know what I now know, when that friend came up to tell me Johnny or Suzy (I can roll with it) likes me, I would tell them GO ASK JOHNNY OR SUZY JUST WHAT THE HELL IS IT THEY LIKE ABOUT ME!!!

I digress.

So, whoever you are that clicked on follow, may a thousand crazed camels deposit camel “presents” around your house!

Not really. But, really!

So, I guess rather than rant and seem unappreciative, I should actually thank all of you for following my work.

Without people reading what I write, writing would eventually become pointless. Except for the fact writing is the scratching of the itch.

And, as I think about it, the itch is rather pleasant mostly — painful at times!

So, Whoever You Are, the one who pressed on the “follow” button, I forgive you. You did not realize your action would throw me off my game today, distract me from my ADMINISTRATIVE WORK! Or to respond — very emotionally, I might add — to this perplexing situation I find myself in.

Just what does that even mean?

SM

The Saga of a Rescued Dog: Chapter Five

22 May

 

Photo by Graham R. Marsden Used by permission

Photo by Graham R. Marsden
Used by permission

 

 

 

The Saga of a Rescued Dog

Chapter Five: Time sure flies . . .

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

Previously:

The two went through the door, and about an hour later, the mister emerged without our friend. The mister’s face was streaked with tears, and he turned and pinned Mangum’s picture and bio on the cork board, then quickly walked out of the compound and through the front door, letting it close by itself.

Hey, I said to the dog in the cage across the aisle from mine. What numbers are still left on my card that haven’t been crossed off?

He squinted and looked, then lowered his head and said something.

What? I can’t hear you, I said.

Six. Six days have not been marked off.

_________________

 

 

I’ve heard that for every human year on earth, a dog ages seven. I don’t know where that comes from. I’m four years old, as nearly as I can tell. But, am I really twenty-eight instead?

Time sure flies when you’re having fun. Or even when you’re not.

When the dog across the aisle said I had six days left — six days! — I called him a liar and said he was being cruel. After all, I can count on one paw how many days someone hasn’t been cruel to me.

I figured he wanted to get my goat for some reason.

Oh yeah? I barked back. You only got two days. Two freakin’ days! Do you hear me?

But I lied. He had about fifteen. He had come in after I did and knew better. But I didn’t like him. He had buggy eyes and no tail.

What dog has no tail?

Speaking of tail, mine had healed with the last two inches bent into an ell. What adopter is going to want a dog with a bent tail? Huh?

Next day Muffy got adopted. An old man and his wife saw her picture in the newspaper and came in.

Why, she’s just like my Cousin Gladys’s dog! Let’s get her, Henry, and the next time Gladys lords her dog over me, I’ll just say “Gladys, I have my own dog, and she’s every bit as good as yours.”

Muffy heard, and grinned at me. The irony wasn’t lost on me at all, and I wish I could have been there when those cousins got together again with their dogs. Or, maybe just one would have a dog. Life is truly stranger than fiction, I’ve heard.

Some human celebration was approaching — you know, the one where bad little misters tie firecrackers to dogs’ tails? Not my favorite.

But for some reason adopters started flowing into the animal shelter. I think the mister was so upset over Mangum that he went all out with the advertising. Guilt is a wondrous motivator.

And so dog after dog got adopted and left, their photos and bios going with them.

Even Damien. Yep. Damien was adopted, and the adopter was kind as kind can be and not into dog fighting.

It got to the point only me, the mutt across the aisle from me, the manx and that dodo head possum were the only animals left in the compound.

It was hot. Very hot.

And I was on my last day.

The mister strolled down the aisle in the compound several times, filling everyone’s water bowls — even dropping in pieces of ice, too.

He was a kind mister.

I kept thinking, Hey, why not take me home with you? I’ll be the best dog ever — promise!

And he would look me straight in the eyes, as though he heard my thoughts.

I’d take you home with me if I could. I really would. But the missus would move out. I’ve run through that hand, and we have six big dogs at home. I truly, truly wish I could.

I put on the saddest look I could muster. But he turned away and walked back out of the compound. I lay down on the concrete, trying to get cool. But I couldn’t help thinking about the next day.

So, I fell asleep and dreamed my regular dreams — Mister Master, punishment, the semi, Mangum walking down the aisle to the door, Muffy and Damien going out the other door. And that stupid possum and manx, staring at me from their little cages.

Man!

I awoke to the mister seeming to shout from the next room. It wasn’t an angry shout, but a YAHOO! cowboy kind of yelp.

It was late in the day, and I knew he was getting ready to close up and go home. But I could hear him, excited as all get out.

And when he came bursting through the door into the compound, he made a beeline for my cage.

This is him! This is definitely the one you want! Oh, his life before he came here was terrible — just awful! Mistreated like no animal should be!

I kept thinking — Wrong! We don’t want anyone to know about my past and about my hang-ups!

Walking into the compound, hand in hand, was a mister and his missus who grinned from ear to ear.

I think I heard the Alleluia chorus break forth from the heavens at that very moment!

They walked up to my cage, still grinning. She was crying slightly. I know I was. And probably grinning from ear to ear myself. I riveted my eyes on his, then hers, then his, then hers, remembering what Mangum had told me.

Oh — make eye contact. Be sure to do that. If you continually look away, they think you’ve got something to hide.

I had nothing to hide — that’s for sure! It was all I could do to restrain myself from jumping up on the door of my cage. Instead, my tail began to hurt it was wagging so fast!

Perhaps they would see the ell in it.

Let’s go fill out the adoption papers in the office and get everything in order.

God, I thought I’d never hear the mister say that about me!

And they walked back to the front, the misses looking back several times, smiling, and still tearing up as she went.

So there it was! This was it! Miracles of miracles — my luck was about to turn! Good-bye Mister Master! Good-bye BAD DOG! Good-bye hiding and getting hit or kicked or starved or a hundred other bad things my memory is full of.

What was that tune? Happy? Oh, yeah! HAPPYHAPPYHAPPYHAPPY ME!

Then I suddenly remembered when the mister first bent over to pick me up in the waiting room. And how Mister Master jumped into my head. And how I snapped at the mister for no reason at all.

Naw. That wouldn’t happen — couldn’t happen now, could it?

Could it?

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 22 May, 2014

 

The Saga of a Rescued Dog: Chapter Four

22 May

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The Saga of a Rescued Dog

Chapter Four: The other inmates

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

Previously:

BAD DOG!

And I awoke, startled, hungry and afraid. It was night, and I stood on wobbly legs and slowly stepped out into the yard.

The moon was waning — yet bright enough in the sky to illumine the tall oaks that bordered the compound. I lay down in the cooling dirt and shook my head to clear the cobwebs. The conversation resurfaced slowly.

Euthanasia?

Thirty days?

What day was it?

_____________________

 

 

I remember lying on the livingroom floor and watching “The Shawshank Redemption” while Mister Master droned out on the couch, snoring loudly and letting a Budweiser slip from his hand. The beer poured out onto the wood floor, and when he awoke, I was blamed for the spill, naturally.

Anyway, the movie came back to me in the animal shelter, when I realized that at the end of thirty days, whatever euthanasia was, it was going to happen to me.

My cellmates explained to me that there were only two doors to the compound. The door I had come through days earlier, that led into the front waiting area of the shelter, and the door at the end of the hallway.

That door, my mates told me, was where dogs went and never returned.

Of course, I proposed immediately that perhaps those dogs were adopted, and that there was a loading area where the adopters drove to get their new family members.

The only response I got from that idea were low-slung looks and knowing slow shakes of the head.

The chihuahua in the next cage over clucked and said I was full of rice and beans, and that everyone knew what happened when a dog was taken through the door at the end of the hall. They just didn’t know how it happened.

My new friends filled me in quickly on the dos and the don’ts of the compound. How leg-lifting on the gates was frowned upon; how loud and incessant barking wasn’t the smartest thing to do; how any kind of snarling or gnashing of teeth marked you as a bad dog — which was the quickest way to get a one-way ticket through the door.

Mangum, a slow, fat southern bloodhound, had been there the longest. He had seen dogs adopted, and dogs by-passed by the excited misters and misses and little misters that crowded together at the various doors of the cages.

You don’t want to lung up on the cage doors. That’ll excite the misters and misses, who  will fear their little pups will be bitten or scratched by you.

What do you do? I asked.

Well, you smile — as best you can. And it helps to look real sad-eyed. That gets a lot of response from the misses. And wag your tail, too. Oh — make eye contact. Be sure to do that. If you continually look away, they think you’ve got something to hide.

Mangum was probably not going to get adopted, and had resolved himself to that fact. His mister, whom he had lived with and hunted with for years, had died when the old house they lived in burned down. Mangum made a valiant attempt to save him, but the dead man’s weight was too much for the aged Mangum to drag. Firefighters found Mangum, unconscious but alive, laying near his master’s side.

I’m too old to be adopted, he wheezed. And I guess I’ve had about the best life a dog could wish for.

It made me sad to think of Mangum going through that door. He deserved better. So did we all. Except maybe Damien. But even Damien was a victim of circumstance.

Damien was a muscular Doberman. Black with brown and white markings — he exuded warrior. He had the battle scars to prove it: one ear was half bitten off, and his back leg was horribly mangled.

Damien was a gladiator. He fought other dogs. As he puts it, he was a fighter the minute his foot hit the ground, and all of his training prepared him for the pit.

I ain’t good for nuthin’ else, he growled.

He broke all of Mangum’s suggestions. He leaped viciously at his door when adopters came through. He barked and slathered (he said that slathering was a particularly intimidating tactic in the pit, because the other dog thought you were crazy) for hours on end.

The mister and the little misters carefully slid Damien’s food and water through a small opening in his cage just big enough for the bowls. They never came in to clean his cage because he would charge in from his yard before they could close the door to the yard. So they hosed his area out with him standing there like a demon dog.

That’s what they called him, too.

Only one adopter expressed interest in Damien, but the rumor came back that the adopter was also involved in dog fighting.

Damien had been “rescued” when the sheriff’s department raided the pit he was fighting in.

He told us it was a shame he wouldn’t be going out fighting.

Muffy was a dainty Shitzu — which she pronounced “she-zoo,” and the rest of us said “shit-zoo.” Many a howl over Muffy. Her story was that one day she wandered away from her yard, and a mister drove up in a van and took her.

He ripped off all of her identification, and drove forever away from her home. She thought he was going to try to sell her, but she managed to get away when he stopped for gas and left the passenger side window down.

She took the chance and leaped out, running through four lanes of traffic to escape.

Someone found her days later, and brought her to the animal shelter.

Of us all, Muffy was the most refined and queenly in her deportment. But we put up with her anyway.

At the front end of the hallway, against the wall, were the cages for small animals other than dogs. A thick-furred manx, who claimed to be two generations removed from being a bobcat, hissed from her enclosure. Like Damien, the manx was reclusive and spiteful. Plus, she was a cat.

In case you didn’t know, I hate cats. I had a bad experience with a feral cat when I was a puppy, and there is no love lost where I’m concerned. There are not enough dogs, and too many cats in the world. I’m sorry — that’s just how I feel. Live with it.

Clarence was a possum (Oh-possum, he would say) and was just plain stupid. His tail was broken when he tried to cross the road at about the pace of a slug, I’d say. And at night! A car loomed out of the dark, and Clarence was mesmerized by the headlights.

He told us he thought they were twin meteors coming out of space . . . what a dip! But the idiot had the dumb luck of being an animal the mister would nurse back to health and turn over to a local zoo. He was not going down the long hall and through the euthanasia door.

Imagine that.

And there were others in the compound — mostly whom I never got to know. Newbies came in about every other day.

Oh, the mister came through and took pictures of all of us with a Polaroid camera, and taped the picture to a piece of white cardboard on which he wrote about us. He also put numbers one through thirty on the bottom in a line, and crossed them off, one by one, for each day we stayed. That card was fastened to the front of each cage.

When he brought in potential adopters, he would go over each animal’s history. If lucky, and adopted, the adopters took the photo and the card with them.

If not adopted, and all thirty numbers got crossed off, the mister would pin the picture and bio to a cork board fastened next to the door at the end of the hallway. It was a large cork board, and there were a lot of photos and bios pinned to it.

The saddest day in the compound was when the mister entered and walked slowly down to Mangum’s cage. It was no surprise to Mangum — he knew the day was coming. The day before he asked the dog in the cage opposite his what numbers were still left on his card that weren’t crossed off.

None, came the reply.

The mister was extremely sad, and he walked to Mangum’s cage with his head bowed. Mangum sat ready on the other side of the door, also with bowed head.

The mister didn’t even leash Mangum, but opened the cage door, and out Mangum stepped. Then the two slowly walked to the door at the end of the hall, Mangum’s picture and bio in the mister’s hand.

The two went through the door, and about an hour later, the mister emerged without our friend. The mister’s face was streaked with tears, and he turned and pinned Mangum’s picture and bio on the cork board, then quickly walked out of the compound and through the front door, letting it close by itself.

Hey, I said to the dog in the cage across the aisle from mine. What numbers are still left on my card that haven’t been crossed off?

He squinted and looked, then lowered his head and said something.

What? I can’t hear you, I said.

Six. Six days have not been marked off.

The Saga of a Rescued Dog: Chapter Three

22 May

 

 

 

The Saga of a Rescued Dog

Chapter Three: The Hoosegow

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

Previously:

I moved in quickly, but stealthily, wary of any other animal, or that some kind of trap had been set.

Nobody and no thing. Just slices and slices of bacon stacked up high.

Oh! I dove in with unabandonment. And the taste! The aromas! The crunch of the pan-fried meat! I was inundated in ecstasy — euphoric — totally out of my mind with bliss!

As I wolfed huge bites of bacon down, at the corner of one eye I spied the mister approaching slowly, carefully from around the building with that rod with the wire loop at the end of it.

And you know what?

I did not care one iota.

____________________________

While bacon is indeed an incredible culinary experience, it is not without its consequences. The first being the euphoric state of mind that renders you incapable of normal reactions.

So when the mister slipped the wire loop over my head, I did not budge from engorging myself on the diminished pile of bacon strips.

And when he slowly tightened the noose, I was not distracted from licking the morsels and bacon grease from the metal bowl.

And when he gently tugged me away and into the animal shelter, I followed willingly. Maybe a growl and a snarly look at the first tug. But because the bacon was all gone, there really was nothing for us to fight over.

We walked into the waiting area and around the counter to a second door in the back of the room. That door led to the animal compound.

The compound was a long room situated perpendicular to the front of the building. A concrete aisle ran down the center of the room, and on either side were caged spaces with doors — five to a side. Nearly all the spaces were occupied by a dog, and all were barking their little heads off when the mister and I entered.

We walked down the aisle and stopped midway at the door of an empty cage. The mister opened the cage and walked in with me, then crouched down carefully.

There, there, little buddy. This is your new home for a while. And these are your companions.

I sat and wagged my tail a bit to show the mister I wasn’t going to be a threat. He slowly reached his big hand out, which I sniffed, then licked. There was bacon smell and taste on his hands.

Here’s some water, and here’s the bowl where you’ll be fed — once the bacon works through.

That’s the other thing about bacon — and dogs. It’s a consequence of eating bacon at all — but especially of eating a whole bowlful in the matter of a few minutes. If you understand what I’m saying.

So, for the next day and a half, my stomach and my bowels gave me  and the mister  a fit. But he was understanding, and happy to have his little misters clean both my cage and me following the aftermath.

My cage was a cubicle — not too small, but definitely a downsizing from the space I was used to. It was simple. Concrete wall at the back with a rectangular space left open that led to a small fenced-in yard where I could go if I chose.

The cages were also separated by cinderblock walls that went up a few feet — high enough to keep animals in adjoining cages from physical touch.

The floor of the cubicle was concrete, and cool to my underbelly when I stretched out on my belly or side. There were a lot of flies.

Paddle fans suspended from the ceiling along the aisle moved the air about, and kept a wafting breeze that would tickle the hairs on my nose, causing me to sneeze abruptly from time-to-time.

Inside the compound were the mixtures of smells: the other dogs, the wall of small cages where small animals were kept. Like cats. Yuck. And the smell of PineSol and other cleansers.

My yard was mostly dirt, with a walked out trench along the fenced closures. Some grass and dandelions grew along where the fence touched the ground. There was a line of trees a few feet behind the yards that threw late day shade over the yards on that side of the aisle. I was lucky that mine was on the west side, and didn’t get the harsh splash and heat from the morning sun.

For those first days I recuperated from my orgiastic meal. I wasn’t too aware of my surroundings so much, and not at all of my fellow companions. I only vaguely sensed them as I went in and out of nausea — hearing them talk, like dull background clatter, or getting a brief whiff from time-to-time.

Why I was where I was had faded to a dim memory, which I dipped into from time to time during my dreams.

Mister Master. His large, angry face grown incredibly large — spewing curses and harrumping his fat body like an irate gorilla.

The kicks and the lashes and the hours on end chained to the elm tree in the back yard.

The dry, rusty water bowl, neglected for days.

My own feces, piling up in the small grassy lawn — which was always tall and unkept. Flies swirling in packs, alighting on my head and ears.

Bzzzzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzz.

The echoing conversation between Mister Master and the mister of the animal shelter.

Thirty days.

Euthanasia.

The vague sound of the mister, leading other misters and misses down the aisle and back, who looked in on the various animals, asking echoey questions. Stopping at my cage and asking What’s wrong with him?

Thirty days.

Euthanasia. If you don’t want your pet euthanized, better not leave him here.

Nobody will take him. May as well euthanize him now.

It’s the law.

What’s wrong with him?

BAD DOG!

I awoke, startled, hungry and afraid. It was night, and I stood on wobbly legs and slowly stepped out into the yard.

The moon was waning — yet bright enough in the sky to illumine the tall oaks that bordered the compound. I lay down in the cooling dirt and shook my head to clear the cobwebs. The conversation resurfaced slowly.

Euthanasia?

Thirty days?

What day was it?

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 22 May, 2014

 

 

The Saga of a Rescued Dog: Chapter Two

21 May

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The Saga of a Rescued Dog

Chapter Two: Ain’t Nuthin’ Betterin’ Bacon

by L. Stewart Marsden

Previously:

Is he up on his shots? I see he has a tag.

YEAH. I TAKE GOOD CARE OF MY PETS AND MAKE SURE THEY’RE UP-TO-DATE ON EVERYTHING.

Except love, I thought.

Mister Master handed my leash to the other mister, grunted, and walked out of the door and out of my life. He didn’t pet me, or say good-bye, or even look at me once. He just walked out the door, got into his truck, and drove away.

What now? I thought, and watched the other mister come around the counter with my leash in hand.

He bent down to pick me up.

_____________________

I heard about this scientist that did a lot of experimentation with dogs and dog behavior. Seems we animals get conditioned to respond in certain ways.

If a bell rings, for example, we run to a door and press a button. It opens, and voila — a dog treat!

In my case, I was conditioned by Mister Master — only what I do is definitely not good. When he would come and get me, and when he would stick his face near mine? Sometimes I growled and snapped at him.

He said I had a nasty temper. I say I don’t really know.

So, when the mister at the animal shelter bent down to pick me up — I dunno — Mister Master’s face flashed in front of me, and I growled and snapped at him pretty viciously. He dropped me and the leash and backed up and around the counter quickly, grabbing a long pole with a loop made of wire.

In the meantime, I headed for the front door just as a little old lady opened it from the outside. I scooted outside into the parking lot and looked around quickly to see where to hide. Just across the road from the shelter was a big field of corn that had grown maybe a couple of feet high.

Perfect!

Just as the mister ran through the door after me, I dashed for the field. I had one thing on my mind: that corn field.

Hey! Stop pooch! Stop! C’mere!

I heard the word C’mere, which acted like jet fuel in my veins. I just didn’t hear the semi headed down that road.

SWEEEEEEOOOOOOOWWWWW! went the truck, barely clipping the very end of my tail. Dang that stung! I yelped loudly and sped into the corn field, the mister running and calling after me.

In the middle of the field I found a small ditch that had standing water. I lay down in the ditch, careful to douse my hurting tail in the muddy mixture.

I could hear the mister moving off to my left in the field, calling Here doggie! C’mere, doggie! I won’t hurt you, doggie! And he would whistle over and over.

I thought why did I act that way? I knew this mister was not like Mister Master. I could tell by his eyes, and the way he looked at me — sad-like. Why did I do that?

I was too afraid to stand and move — still hurting too much. I would wait the mister out. He would give up. And then what? Where was I going to go? What was I going to do?

The sun was hot, and while I licked at the water, it was very muddy, and there were mosquitos buzzing about. I had heard mosquitos were not good for me.

A pesky fly kept buzzing about my head, and I snapped angrily at it — not sure what I would do if I caught it. What does a fly taste like, anyway? What did I care? It was getting late, and my stomach was growling. I hadn’t eaten all day. Sometimes Mister Master fed me. Sometimes he didn’t.

I lay my head down on the ground and tried to get comfortable. My tail throbbed. The voice of the mister got further and further away, and finally stopped altogether.

I fell asleep.

______________________

I was awakened by a loud screech just overhead, and jerked alert in time to see a huge owl swoop by, illumined by the light of the full moon. The owl dipped into the cornfield suddenly, and a few moments later flapped back into the sky, a small mouse twitching in its talons.

My stomach rumbled again. My tail still hurt, but not as much. And now I was really thirsty. The late afternoon heat had dried the puddle I was sleeping in — or maybe my fur soaked it up.

I shook what water and mud had clung to my back legs and body, and looked about. Then I tilted my nose into the air and began to sniff.

Something absolutely incredible wafted into my nose!

Bacon! There was bacon out there — not too far away, in fact! Mister Master had given me small pieces of bacon — back when I was a good dog. When I was a really small puppy. My teeth weren’t too sharp at the time, and I mostly gummed it — but oh, glory be! There ain’t nuthin’ like a good strip of bacon! I could just howl thinking about it!

The problem was, it was coming from the other side of the road. From the animal shelter I had run away from.

Know what? I didn’t care. It would be worth the risk to cross back over for some bacon. Besides, how’d I know there wasn’t some other animal — a raccoon or a possum or a fox or skunk — sniffing out that bacon at the very same time?

As quietly as I could, I retraced my steps back to the road. In my imagination I saw and heard the semi barrel by, brushing my fur with the wind of its passing.

But it wasn’t there.

I looked down the road — first one way and then the other. I listened to hear the sound of tires speeding over asphalt. Or to see oncoming headlights.

Nothing.

Carefully — but not too carefully, remembering all the other critters getting ready to congregate around that bacon — I clicked over the road, my toenails making a snappy sound. Once across, I headed for the cinderblock building.

Sure enough — in a metal bowl on the front stoop of the shelter — was a stack of bacon! And next to that, another bowl filled with water. Just sitting there! God, I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

I moved in quickly, but stealthily, wary of any other animal, or that some kind of trap had been set.

Nobody and no thing. Just slices and slices of bacon stacked up high.

Oh! I dove in with unabandonment. And the taste! The aromas! The crunch of the pan-fried meat! I was inundated in ecstasy — euphoric — totally out of my mind with bliss!

As I wolfed huge bites of bacon down, at the corner of one eye I spied the mister approaching slowly, carefully from around the building with that rod with the wire loop at the end of it.

And you know what?

I did not care one iota.

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 21 May, 2014

Saga of a Rescued Dog: Chapter One

21 May

 

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Saga of a Rescued Dog

Chapter One: The Present

by L. Stewart Marsden

BAD DOG!

I heard Mister Master scream as he entered the house. He had found my present in the front hallway, no doubt.

C’MERE, YOU MUTT!

Mister Master did not have a mute button. Everything he said — at least to me — was at full volume. Needless to say, I did not c’mere, but tucked my tail and skulked down the hallway to my hiding place underneath the stairway.

WHERE ARE YOU? COME OUT NOW!

So I scrunched into the tiniest ball I could, and however much I tried, my toenails made a scratching sound on the wood floor. Obedience to Mister Master was not one of my better traits.

I HEAR YOU! YOU CAN’T GET AWAY FROM ME! YOU ARE IN FOR IT THIS TIME!

I never got way from Mister Master. But I always tried. It wasn’t so much I thought he wouldn’t find me, but it delayed the inevitable. At least for a few sorry seconds. It didn’t matter in the long run, and I was always in for it whatever it was.

Mister Master found me and screamed THERE YOU ARE!

He put on one of his heavy work gloves and reached under the space under the stairway and grabbed me by the collar. I scratched deep marks into the floor in my attempt to resist, which only made Mister Master madder.

He fumed as he dragged me back down the hallway to the front door alcove.

DO YOU SEE THAT?

He pointed at my present, neatly piled on the floor a few feet from the door.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT?

I’m not sure why he asks. He wouldn’t understand me if I did explain. And what I had to say was “If you hadn’t left me in the house for ten hours I wouldn’t have left you the present.” But that would only have made him madder.

So he shoved my nose into the present. I can’t begin to explain how awfully disgusting that is! And while he did that he repeated his angry statement:

BAD DOG!

I thought to myself, “Bad Mister Master.”

Then he took me to the back of the house and let me out into the back yard — which, by the way, was fenced in. Why he left me in the house in the first place was beyond me!

I cleaned myself in the unmowed grass and tried not to get sick from the smell. I love to smell things, but not that!

Mister Master stormed out into the back yard after a few minutes. He had the leash.

THAT WAS THE VERY LAST STRAW!

He hooked the leash to my collar, and dragged me to his truck, almost tossing me into the truck bed.

Then he jumped into the cab and slammed the door, and started the engine, revving it loudly. He jerked back down the driveway, tossing me about in the truck bed, slamming my body against the sides and the wheel covers. I was afraid of being tossed out of the back, which was protected by a webbed fabric gate. Not the strongest material where I was concerned.

Then we drove away from the house, reeling about corners, slamming to stops at intersections, and peeling out at green lights.

After a terribly long and frightful ride, Mister Master pulled the truck into a driveway where there was a one-story cinderblock building. A sign at the entrance to the driveway read County Animal Shelter.

He grabbed the leash and nearly tore my head off pulling me out of the truck bed. He dragged me toward the cinderblock building and through the glass front door into a waiting area.

An older, much kinder looking mister sat behind a tall counter, and was reading a magazine. He looked up at Mister Master and me, and seemed to size up the situation pretty quickly.

Problem with your dog?

Amazing! He didn’t shout!

HE’S A DAMN NUISANCE!

A nuisance? That all?

DONE WITH HIM. TIRED OF HIM CHEWING EVERYTHING AND CRAPPING ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Well, that’s generally what puppies do — chew and crap. You didn’t know that when you got him?

IT’S MORE THAN I CAN PUT UP WITH. CAN I LEAVE HIM HERE WITH YOU?

For a fee. We’re not a charity, you know.

HOW MUCH?

Fifty dollars.

FIFTY DOLLARS! DAMN! MAY AS WELL PULL OUT A GUN AND SHOOT ME!

Well, that WAS a thought I’d vote for!

We’ll feed him for thirty days and keep him safe. He’ll be put up for adoption.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THIRTY DAYS?

This is a country animal shelter. If an animal isn’t adopted over that time, we euthanize. So if you don’t want your pet to be euthanized, I wouldn’t leave him here.

GOT NO OTHER PLACE. NOBODY I KNOW WOULD TAKE HIM. ‘SPECT NOBODY WILL WANT HIM. MAY AS WELL EUTHANIZE HIM NOW, FOR ALL THAT MATTERS.

I dunno about that. We’ll wait the thirty days. It’s the law.

Mister Master pulled out his wallet and counted out the money begrudgingly, murmuring curses under his breath. I sat and watched the transaction, sensing perhaps a chance for a new life. I didn’t know what euthanize meant, and was sure it wasn’t good. But, even so, two weeks without Mister Master was going to be like eternal heaven for me.

THAT IT? ANYTHING ELSE?

Is he up on his shots? I see he has a tag.

YEAH. I TAKE GOOD CARE OF MY PETS AND MAKE SURE THEY’RE UP-TO-DATE ON EVERYTHING.

Except love, I thought.

Mister Master handed my leash to the other mister, grunted, and walked out of the door and out of my life. He didn’t pet me, or say good-bye, or even look at me once. He just walked out the door, got into his truck, and drove away.

Not that I minded.

What now? I thought, and watched the other mister come around the counter with my leash in hand.

He bent down to pick me up.

 

 

Copyright © Lawrence S. Marsden, 21 May, 2014

Query: looking for contributors to Anthology on Aging

21 May

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Anthology on Aging

Poems, stories, essays, art and photography (and more)

on the Golden Years

 

I’m aware of more and more excellent work being done on the broad subject of aging. As I’m sliding down that slippery silver slope myself, I find much of my writing geared in that direction.

Are you writing about that time of life? Drawing? Photographing? Recording?

If so, and if you would consider contributing to a project that would be self-published, let me know by emailing me at skipmars at gmail dot com.

Agreeable details can be ironed out by agreeable people, I think.

How about you?

Wanna try?

 

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