My wife Betty and I used to laugh at those old folks who own a house dog and speak to it as if it were human. They even refer to themselves as Mama and Daddy when talking to the dog, and take it everywhere they go and spoil it rotten and ...well, you get the picture. You've seen them, too, haven't you? Betty and I both agreed there must be something really peculiar about that type of person and that you'd never catch us making such idiots of ourselves.
Yeah, right. This just goes to show that you should never laugh at other people's quirks, because guess what? In the prime of our Golden Years we unaccountably lost our sanity one day and saddled ourselves with a house dog. A reddish-brown, shorthaired dachshund, to be specific, weight sixteen pounds, going on forty when lap-sitting, which is his preferred position.
It isn't the fact that we got a dog which is so puzzling; it is that we allowed it to become a house dog. Shucks, we've had other doggies and they stayed outside most of the time on our hundred-acre farm where we grow Christmas trees and pretend we're making a living at it. How did this one turn out to be a house dog who gets treated like a people--and acts like one most of the time? Maybe it's because for the first time in our lives we actually paid money for a pet, the princely sum of a hundred dollars.
I've forgotten why we decided on a dachshund to replace the Chihuahua we had before, who guarded us, the house and the farm with all the fierceness and determination of a hundred-pound German shepherd until the day he died.
I guess it really doesn't matter now anyway. What I do remember is that appealing little whine coming from the cardboard box we were bringing him home in.
The sounds were so appealing, that I just had to take the sleek, wiggly little sausage doggie out of the box and cradle him on my lap, thereby setting a precedent which is carried on to this day. In fact, on this very cold morning as I'm beginning this tale, we're all out in the office, converted from a two-car garage, and with a cheery fire going in the Franklin stove. The new kitten, named Velcro (for obvious reasons) is playing with a lizard that made its way inside with some of Betty's house plants, brought in for the winter. I am at the computer, writing (and also pretending to be making money). Betty is sitting in her easy chair reading. And the doggie is asleep in her lap. He loves laps almost as much as he loves doggie biscuits.
Naming a dog Biscuit wasn't one of our brighter ideas, even though it seemed appropriate at the time. As I recall, we had gotten a couple of different kinds of puppy food the day we brought Biscuit home. While Betty began fixing breakfast, I put some dry food out in a bowl for our new doggie. He sniffed at it, looked up and whined.
Obviously, I was missing a signal somewhere. Over the next half-hour, I tried him with canned dog food, cat food, a piece of leftover steak and some bread. He whined and sniffed, and sniffed and whined, but wouldn't touch a bite.
As Betty was cooking and I was trying to think of something else to offer our new doggie, we discussed names for him. Somehow, every one we came up with sounded trite, unsuitable for his countenance or silly. Then we thought of names one of us liked, but the other didn't.
The naming session went on until breakfast was ready. Betty put the eggs, bacon and biscuits on the table and we sat down. Immediately, our new little house guest scattled over between us and sat up on his hiney with his little front paws in a perfect begging position--and I promise you that we neither taught nor encouraged him to sit up like that.
It must have come with his genes because that part of his life not spent draped across Betty's lap, he spends sitting up on his hind end, looking around like a people. Well, shucks, if I was only three inches high and fourteen inches long and had four legs when I was a little fellow, I probably would have done the same. Besides, he is perfectly balanced like that and it leaves his forepaw free to wave at us like a band conductor when we don't understand immediately what he wants.
Anyway, there he was, sitting up between our chairs and whining. I broke off a piece of buttered biscuit and held it for him. I'm lucky he didn't grab a couple of fingers in the process, the way he snatched that piece of biscuit. I tried some more. He gobbled those bits of biscuit as fast as I could break them off and reach down to feed them to him. In fact, he ate all my biscuits and I didn't even get any that morning.
"Why don't we name him Biscuit?" I asked Betty, wiping off my mangled fingers on a napkin. "He sure does like them. And fingers, too."
"Well, okay," Betty agreed.
I think she still wanted to name him something like Prince or Rex, but she finally gave in when it was obvious how silly anyone would look calling a Dumbo-eared, short-legged, long-bodied, snuffly-nosed little Dachshund by a name like that. So Biscuit he became. And thus we became the ones sounding silly.
It's a good thing we don't have close neighbors. I know I'm a little eccentric, but there's no sense having the world think I've gone completely around the bend, which is what would happen if anyone lived within screaming distance of us. Screaming distance? Yup.
Here's the scenario. Take one person (me) who has a puppy still being trained in the intricacies of inside living. That means lots of yelling, shouts of "no!" as he tugs the tablecloth and dishes onto the floor, pees on the carpet, chews on the kittens' tails, and/or tries to electrocute himself with the irresistible lure of cords from the TV, computer, lamps, etc. When we yell, he cringes, knowing he's been bad. Or, on the other hand, when he, for instance, refrains from slobbering all over your face when he's in your lap, you say, "good doggie" or, when he's particularly well behaved, you say "good doggie, Biscuit."
Now fast forward to the football playoffs. The first time I saw a great play I yelled and hollered madly--until I saw poor Biscuit clawing at the door trying to get outside, thinking he'd done something really bad. I rescued him and then tried to keep my voice down. No way. I mean it was a playoff game, right? I had to yell. And every time, Biscuit cowered and started trembling, wondering what in thehell he had done that was bad enough to make me yell like that.
It was too cold to put him out for more than a few minutes. He would scratch the paneling if I locked him up in another room. He didn't believe my reassurances after I yelled that he was being good when I would holler again every few minutes. He was getting paranoid and I was getting frustrated. Finally, I hit on the obvious solution.
And that's why I don't want nearby neighbors around during the football games. They would think I was crazy, hearing me yell, "Good Doggie! Good Doggie!" or after a particularly great play, "Good Doggie! Good Doggie, Biscuit!" And since I don't have nearby neighbors, the solution worked great.
Well, almost. After three hours of hearing me yell about how good he is, Biscuit doesn't think he can do anything bad for two or three days afterward. This means I really have to guard my socks, telephone cords and anything else remotely chewable.
He catches onto other words real fast. Irresistible other things, too, like learning to drive which I'll tell about later. Nowadays, knowing how intelligent our little Dumbo-eared doggie is, we're careful of what we teach him, but at that time we didn't know any better.
Learning how smart Biscuit is all started with me giving him a ride up the drive to check the mail. Remember, we live on a big farm and it's a quarter-mile up the dirt and gravel road to the mailbox. That was simply too far for my old bones to walk most of the time especially after spending a hard morning writing stuff that mostly doesn't sell for beans. Or playing around with some of the thousands of Christmas trees which earn even less money than my writing but have to be tended to anyway, because otherwise, Betty would make me go out and get an honest job. Back when I started the business, one of my good friends told me not to plant any more trees than my wife could take care of, but I didn't listen much better than Biscuit being told to leave the steering wheel alone while I'm driving.
Once he tried riding a few times, Biscuit decided he liked to go in the truck as much as a kid likes to go on Merry-Go-Rounds. Pretty soon, he was begging to go everywhere I went. As soon as I make a move for my truck keys, he starts bouncing up and down and yelping and turning in circles and squealing as if he has a giant flea tickling him in a spot he can't get to.
Well, Biscuit hadn't been much trouble going to get the mail or newspaper so I began letting him go along to town with me while I ran my errands. At first, he just sat quietly on the seat beside me, but pretty soon he graduated to my lap (remember, he's a lap dog by temperament), and since my truck has no air conditioning, before long he was sticking his head out the window and barking at all and sundry who were using his road. Yep, every road we drove on belonged to him.
I thought it was pretty funny and the trips continued. I would come home and tell Betty about him barking at squirrels and crows on his road or cows and horses leaning their heads over fences as if they were just itching to climb over and invade his road, and yelping at people walking on his road, and in particular, warning cars in front of us to get off of his road.
On rainy or cold days, of course I left the windows up and since he couldn't stick his head out the window, Biscuit would sit in my lap. And that's what led to the trouble.
Sitting in my lap gave him a better view and he began to prefer that to hanging out the window, other than when we stopped and a strange dog, cat, any animal or person approached his truck on his road. In that case, he had to stick his head out (if the window was open) and tell them in no uncertain terms to get the hell off his territory.
Besides the vantage point given by sitting in my lap, Biscuit occasionally honked the horn by accident. He's a pretty smart dog, like I told you. Before long, he learned where both horn buttons were and that they were responsible for making all those neat, loud noises.
The first time we pulled up in front of the house after Biscuit had leaned on the horn the last hundred yards in order to let everyone know Biscuit, the boss of the farm, was home, Betty ran out the back door all atwitter, thinking I was in dire trouble. I was, but I just didn't know it yet.
Besides scaring Betty when we drove up, until she got used to it, Biscuit learned other uses for the horn. For instance, he soon found out that he could get me moving faster if he gave a couple of toots on the horn when I slowed down or stopped for some reason or other.
Now that was fine on country roads, but there is no getting out of it; I have to stop when I come to a busy highway and attempt to cross it in order to get into town. Biscuit can't read of course, (at least I don't think so, but he's learning to spell so reading probably isn't far off) and he doesn't pay any attention to stop signs. To him, they are probably just something he would like to pee on if I would just let him out of the car while we're stopped.
One day, we pulled up behind a big, off-road pickup waiting to cross the highway. Biscuit gave the driver about two seconds to get out of our way, then began tooting the horn. I could see by the line of traffic that the truck couldn't move yet, so I pulled Biscuit's paws off the horn. He slobbered my face and while I was busy wiping it off, he tooted some more.
Biscuit was busy wetting down my face again when I saw the door of the big pickup ahead of me swing open. A burly redneck with sleeves rolled up over biceps about the size of my thighs got out. He hitched up his pants, spit on his hands and slowly walked back to where I sat with Biscuit in my arms, wishing now that I had signed up for that concealed handgun class and was armed to the teeth, instead of having to depend on a sixteen-pound idiot-savant dog to protect me.
"You in a hurry, bud?" the big fellow asked.
"It was my dog," I said as quickly as I could.
"Yeah, I bet. I think you're looking for trouble."
"No, really. It was my dog. Here, I'll show you. Biscuit, blow the horn for the nice man."
Biscuit slobbered on my face some more and barked rudely at the redneck. I began preparing myself for the afterlife.
I guess maybe the big boy liked dogs, because he looked disbelievingly at me, and then reached into the cab of the truck and scratched Biscuit's ears.
"You got a nice dog, bud. You oughten to blame things you do on him. Now don't honk at me again, you hear?"
"I won't," I said, holding Biscuit tight.
The highway cleared. The big-wheeled pickup began moving. I let go of Biscuit to start up again.
Biscuit promptly honked the horn.
I cringed, but the big truck couldn't stop, he was already out on the highway. Biscuit gave him a final toot to hurry him on the way while I silently prayed that our paths would never cross again, at least, until I could go take that handgun course and arm myself.
Besides honking at vehicles, Biscuit tended to honk for me if I took too long in the grocery store or convenience store or post office. The manager of the grocery store got real uptight one busy day when Biscuit honked for five minutes straight until I could get outside to quiet him down by offering my face as a sacrifice.
As time passed, Biscuit got the idea, accidentally at first, but soon purposely, that the little arms sticking out from beneath the steering wheel would do interesting things when he tweaked them, like making the windshield wipers work, or making the turn blinkers come on and so forth. I got to where I was very careful never to leave the truck running with Biscuit in it by himself for fear he would suddenly decide to see what the gearshift lever would do if he moved it to a different position.
One day Biscuit and I were out running errands, had already crossed the highway and were headed to the post office when we got behind a slow-moving state patrol car.
It was going way too slow for Biscuit. He began honking the horn.
I pulled him away from it, crossing the yellow line momentarily while wrestling with him.
He promptly turned on the left side turn signal. The wrong one, since we were turning in the opposite direction (he never has learned left from right).
I put the blinker back to where it belonged.
Biscuit honked the horn again as I let go of him long enough to turn the corner.
The cop car slowed down.
Biscuit honked the horn again.
I pulled him off of it.
He turned on the blinker and the windshield wipers both.
The cop car turned on his blinker, only his was on top of his car.
Biscuit thought it was for him and honked the horn again.
I pulled him off while coming to a very erratic stop.
"Now you've done it," I told Biscuit while I reached for my driver's license. That gave him room to honk the horn again.
The state trooper walked slowly toward my truck, hand hovering over his holster. He got to the window of my truck. Biscuit barked at him.
I shushed him (or tried to) and held out my driver's license.
The trooper ignored it.
"Sir, it appears you may be driving under the influence."
"No way," I said, truthfully. "Not only am I cold sober, but I don't even drink any more."
That might possibly have gone over, except that the trooper looked a little familiar and suddenly I recognized him. He was the same officer who had got me for DWI ten years ago, the last time I ever took a beer with me when I drove.
"I'll just bet you're sober," he said. "Get out of the car."
"It's a truck," I said, not very wisely.
"I don't care what it is. Get out."
I did so, while Biscuit barked and barked. He didn't like all that blue color, apparently. Or maybe it was the threatening tone the officer was using to talk to me and he wanted to protect me.
"Officer, I can explain," I said. "That was my dog honking the horn and turning on the blinkers and all."
"Sure it was. See that white line on the road? Let's see how straight you can walk."
I walked as straight as I ever have in my life. Remembering that night in jail, I probably walked straighter than the line was. The officer appeared a little puzzled, but he wasn't giving up easily.
"All right, let's see you touch your nose with your eyes closed."
Heck, that was easy. I knew where my nose was almost as well as Biscuit did. I touched it several times.
"How come you were acting so funny?" the trooper asked, stymied from proving me drunk with field sobriety tests.
"I keep telling you, sir, it was my dog. He likes to honk the horn and play with the blinkers and stuff."
"Okay, have him honk the horn for me."
We walked over to the truck.
"Biscuit, honk the horn," I said.
"Well, turn on the wipers and blinkers," I pleaded.
Biscuit barked, looking pleased at all the attention.
The officer reached in the window and scratched Biscuit's head.
Biscuit retaliated by extending his extra-long Dachshund body through the window and slobbering all over the trooper's face. At least it shut up the barking.
"He just does it when he wants to," I said.
"What's his name?" the officer asked, wiping off his face with his hand.
"Biscuit," I said.
Biscuit barked. And then, thankfully, he decided we had spent enough time in that one spot. He honked the horn, loud and clear.
The officer smiled.
I breathed easier for about two seconds.
"Okay, I guess you're not under the influence, but I'm still going to have to issue a ticket for erratic driving. Give me your license."
I did so, wondering what Betty was going to say about this. She's the one who's always getting tickets, and here I was, going to have to explain one.
The officer finished writing, tore off the ticket and handed it to me to sign.
I wrote my name without paying much attention, mainly because I had left my spectacles at home. By that time I just wanted for me and Biscuit to get on our way, preferably in a direction opposite of the county jail.
The officer walked off.
I started up my truck and we drove away. Biscuit gave another honk and I got out of there as quick as I could without going over the speed limit.
When I got home, I looked at the ticket before going inside, then began laughing. The officer had written the ticket in Biscuit's name, citing him for driving without a license.
I went in the house and told Betty the story, then showed her the ticket.
She laughed, too.
We kept laughing about the incident right up until the time I got a notice in the mail that a person identified as Biscuit Dog was due in the courthouse the following week to answer a summons for driving without a license and erratic operation of a vehicle.
The next week, Biscuit and I drove to the county seat so I could take him to the traffic court. We could have saved our time.
They told me, no dogs were allowed in the courthouse.
I showed them Biscuit's citation.
The guard said he didn't care what was written on that paper, no dogs were allowed inside.
As soon as I returned home, I wrote a nice letter and included a copy of the citation, explaining the circumstances. I've never heard anything about it since then, but give us time. Biscuit has been pawing at the gearshift lever lately. If he would ever learn left from right, I would just give him the keys and let him run the errands
Doggie Biscuit! Copyright © 2004. Darrell Bain. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.
Darrell Bain is the author of about two dozen books, in many genres, running the gamut from humor to mystery and science fiction to non-fiction and a few humorous works which are sort of fictional non-fiction, if that makes any sense. He has even written for children. For the last several years he has concentrated on humor and science fiction, both short fiction, non-fiction (sort of) and novels. He is currently writing the fourth novel in the series begun with Medics Wild.
Darrell served thirteen years in the military and his two stints in Vietnam formed the basis for his first published novel, Medics Wild. Darrell has been writing off and on all his life but really got serious about it only after the advent of computers. He purchased his first one in 1989 and has been writing furiously ever since.
While Darrell was working as a lab manager at a hospital in Texas, he met his wife Betty. He trapped her under a mistletoe sprig and they were married a year later. Darrell and Betty own and operate a Christmas tree farm in East Texas which has become the subject and backdrop for many of his humorous stories and books.
To order this book:
Format: PDF, HTML, Palm
PayPal -or- Credit Card -or- eReader.com -or-Fictionwise
List Price: $4.50 USD ebook
Format: Trade Paperback
Amazon; Bamm.com; Barnes & Noble; Borders; other Bookstores
List Price: $14.95 USD
Back to Top
| home | audio books | books in print | ebooks | forthcoming books | links | memoirs | news | bainstorming blog | reviews |
- Send Darrell an email message
Talk to Darrell Bain
Web site content Copyright © 2005-2011 Darrell Bain. All rights reserved.
Web site created by Lida E. Quillenand maintained by Ardy M. Scott.
This page last updated 11-06-10.