It was a
family sort-of affair, our
typical nuclear fam-damily
gathered around the dinner table to
actually, factually break
together without the intrusion of
"Aaah!!! Real Monsters"
or "Pete and Pete" (although the
latter is my own personal raving
fave), forks aloft and ready to
commence shoveling in a tasty pork
butt cubed, when it
Parvo, a hound many of you dads will remember
rememberis a hillbilly Shepherd
who may be a mutt that by
happenstance looks Germanic, or
may simply be the product of the
unholy union of his
mother and her own
doggy-brother, was gaily munchy-wunchin'
on a circular marrow bone about the
size of a generous
ring holder when he began baying in
series of blood-curdling
yaps, yips, howls and screams ---
a canine cacophony enough to rattle
even a dead man to the very
The dog jerked and flopped,
bouncing off the four corners of our
dining room making
a wild piston-like digging motion
his snoot with both paws.
The children began
My wife went a rather unflattering ashen
The pork butt cubed remained stalwart and stoic.
Parvo somehow managed to push his marrow bone
up on his jaw, wedging it behind his
bottom incisors and
encircling his lower snout,
and nothing he was doing would
He wasn't choking, but he
couldn't shut his
mouth either, and the
grating of the gnarly bone coupled with
his wild clawing and
digging loosed a torrent
flood of blood and doggy saliva.
looking less and less attractive.
My wife and
I, models for our children
in times of crisis, opened that special
intuitive line of communication that we
shared in our storybook
marriage of nearly two decades, and
the dialogue ensued that would save our
pooch, and surely serve as an abject
lesson in crisis management
to the kids.
"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU
GIVE ME THE WHITE PAGES FOR??!!
'V' IN THE YELLOW
"PAGES FOR 'VETERINARIAN!!'
"HOWINTHEHELL AM I GONNA FIND IT IN THE FREAKIN'
"I found it RIGHT
HERE in the White Pages
"under 'V,' smartass!"
"You found WHAT??"
"Vet clinic --- EMERGENCY VET CLINIC."
you SHOULD have looked in the YELLOW pages."
Parvo shook his head furiously,
room with bloody
spirals of saliva not unlike the
decorations in "Carrie."
"WHY WOULD I LOOK IN
THE DAMN YELLOW PAGES
"WHEN I ALREADY FOUND IT UNDER
"'V' IN THE WHITE PAGES??!"
"You couldn't find your ASS WITH
"BOTH HANDS IN A PHONE
The vet at the emergency clinic
this sort of thing happens at least once
(the bone thing, not
the phone booth thing), and that
"...they usually get 'em off themselves
But as Parvo shinnied his snoot
in a bloody
path along our
decimated carpeting, it didn't seem the
situation would be resolving itself any time soon.
Now, we've had our fair share of
running all up and down
the Darwinian scale.
daughter, who like me in the halcyon
days of youth, won a fish at a
fair by tossing
a ping pong ball at a pyramid of goldfish bowls,
learned about the Reaper's insidious ways
just as her new
friend "Judy" was settling
into underwater life in
mundane little household. "Judy"
happily navigated her tap water
and my daughter dutifully
fed her a healthy pinch
of fishy flakies.
But in the morning, it was
obvious that Judy had kakked,
and in a solemn
we committed her earthly remains to
garden where to this day she
serves as a nutrient emulsion for
our habañero and cayenne plants.
The next day a blue
polymer block floated where Judy had
yet immeasurably happy fishy tenure.
"What's with the block?"
"That's not a block that's Cedric."
The blue, buoyant proxy-fish
happily even now, though the sight
makes me wonder if one day I will be
substituted by a draft
posing as a proxy dad upon my untimely
apparently nearing) demise.
But in the urgent
present, the panic-stricken Parvo
was contorting himself wildly in
with only his yay-hoo owners to put him to rights.
The dog wouldn't let us touch him,
and being the cheap-a-zoidal creep I am,
I would not assent to the
expensive after-hours vet ER
trying to extricate that soup bone ourselves.
"Crisco up your hand, and I'LL HOLD HIM DOWN!"
I bellowed as I took a flying leap toward
old Parvo and
pinned him down like
Bo Bo Brazil would've done back when
Big Time Wrestling was really really real. (?)
I pinned that cur and he bucked like
a mule, digging
tracks through my pants
and into my flesh with his hind
"I got him --- I GOT
My wife yanked at his snoot for all
was worth but Parvo reared back in a
flying across the kitchen into the trash can,
and throwing me, SMASH!! into a
recycling bag full of
empty porter bottles
like a mechanical bull in a sleazy disco bar.
He galloped off, flailing and wailing.
Dazed, my wife and I stared blankly at
one another for
a suspended second.
It wasn't the first time we'd
a semi-conscious moment together,
but the last time had probably
college when urine tests were not a
precondition for employment.
standard dad-issue worn-out jean shirt
and even worner jean trou,
fought my way upright. From stem to
your favorite dad was now clad in
blood, doggy spit and again more
To the casual observer, it would have
seemed our little family had been visited
Krenwinkles, van Houtens and Watsons
whose next move would surely
be to scrawl
"DOGGIES" and perhaps "HEALTER SKELTER"
(sic Mansons, FYI) in hound-dog hemoglobin
old 'fridge right under the crepe paper
collages and spelling
When the smoke cleared, I hadda lay
93 Samoleans for the after-hour vets
doggy with downs
and saw off the 12-cent soupbone.
well below zero out there
with the unrelenting Great Lakes
windchill, and we nearly totaled
the car in an unexpected
skid sending our
(not yet paid for) car careening
an icy intersection.
bleeding all over
the upholstery on the way to the ER,
then stunk up both the flivver and our
lovely suburban home to high heaven
with the gaping pus-dripping
ringing his mouth where the soup bone
Parvo wobbled back into the house,
splayed himself in front of the 'tube,
and began to
zeee-out into a barbiturate
haze, lulled off by the Bronxian
that comic genius, Al "Grandpa" Lewis
episode where he generates his own
electricity for the Munster
if I'm not mistaken).
Yet, the dadly indignities on this
most egregious eve were far
o dear dads.
"When can we
get a kitty?" asked my daughter,
laying me to waste.
"Gimme ninety bucks for new Nikes!"
son, stabbing me
square in the heart.
"Forget about Tim Allen, we're
"watching 'Frasier,' " my wife
dealing me a final and