Lately, I have been acting inappropriately around strangers. Don’t worry, I haven’t been hanging around elementary schools or women’s locker rooms or anything, it’s just that the increasing absurdity of nearly all I see around me these days is creating a sarcastic cynicism that causes me to say or do things that under ordinary circumstances might be viewed as odd, or mildly anti-social.
Entering the house through the side door after having returned from the bank this afternoon, I heard a small sound. With eight dogs roaming the property I normally give little heed to the barks, growls, howls, or multitudes of other noises they make during the course of the day. A pack of dogs is not a silent thing and I have learned to tune out for the most part their 24/7 churning cacophony. This sound, a bleat really, a sound I had never heard emanate from this particular group of dogs, caught my attention however. Rounding the corner of the house, I came upon our Beagle Boomer wallowing in the mud and making a series of plaintive wails that told me in no uncertain terms that he was in some sort of distress. In addition to the sounds he was making, he couldn’t seem to get his feet under himself. As he only has three of them due to an unfortunate run in with the left front wheel of my pickup truck a few years ago, this is normally a somewhat laborious but always successful endeavor for him. Not so this time as he was squirming in the muck like the tawdriest of strip club mud wrestlers, and come to think of it was making the same sounds if my memory of the Louisiana oil patch serves me. Laying next to him in the Woodstock like quagmire that his thrashing about had created, was a large half consumed toadstool of some sort.
Scooping him and the offending fungus up, I tossed them into the front seat of the truck and was off to the vet. About halfway there he began to shake uncontrollably and to howl loudly. This created an exaggerated vibrato that in combination with the smile/grimace that had taken over his face, conjured up in me an image of a wild-eyed Charlie Manson covering Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”. Against my most fervent wishes, as we were approaching the vets office, I began to laugh hysterically.
Gathering myself for a moment, I burst through the doors carrying Boomer who was now chattering like a drunken chimpanzee. Unfortunately, when the young veterinary’s assistant asked me in a most serious tone why my dog was warbling, that’s the word she used, warbling, my artificially induced gravitas dissolved and while tossing the responsible fungus onto the counter I blurted out in between gasping guffaws , “He’s havin’ a bad trip man! Don’t eat the brown mushrooms man!!!”. Strangely, the staff didn’t appreciate my humor. Stiffs.
Glancing about the waiting room at the grim faces and icy stares that returned my little outburst, I again gathered myself. Thankful that I hadn’t been beaten by the appropriately serious owners of sick and injured pets in attendance, the staff assured me that Boomer would be fine once they administered a few hundred dollars worth of…I don’t know…the canine equivalent of lots of black coffee and a talking down I suppose. They would have to keep him for a couple of hours and suggested more gently than I probably deserved that I leave and come pick him up later.
Pulling back in the driveway and re-entering the house through the side door, another sound immediately greeted me but this time it was one of my teenage sons. “Dad! What’s wrong with Ole!! Looking past them into the living room, I saw Ole rise up and attempt to walk on his two hind legs before falling awkwardly backwards. He attempted this two more times before I could reach him. He then began to warble. Scooping him up, I deposited another very stoned dog onto the front seat of my truck and tore out of the driveway. On the way I thought it would be only polite to call and let the vet staff know that I was visiting again sooner than they expected. When the receptionist picked up the phone, I soberly reflected on my earlier outburst and acted accordingly. Rather than cracking an inappropriately timed joke or saying something to further annoy the hospital staff, I simply held the phone up to Ole and let him explain what was going on.
Perhaps a trip to the doctors office, or his couch, is in my future as well.