Tuesday, December 29, 2015

people, let me tell you 'bout my best friend

So, there I was sitting in one of my favorite San Patricio restaurants when I heard the refrains of a tune I have probably not heard since the year Richard Nixon was re-elected president.

It was an instrumental arrangement, but my fading memory head had no trouble filing in that familiar opening line.  And I have handily provided it to you as the title of this piece -- a choice that will undoubtedly boost my Google hits.

Those of you who were television watchers from 1969 to 1972 (and whose memory is still firing on all cylinders as a good Duesenberg should) will recognize the line as being from The Courtship of Eddie's Father.  One of those single father situation comedies that peppered our lives in my youth.

That little stroll into a nostalgia cul-de-sac was timely because Barco Rubio has discovered a new playmate in our neighborhood.

Before I bought Barco, I seriously thought of adding two puppies to my dog-less pack.  The best argument for two (maybe the only one) was to provide companionship for each of the puppies.  I am no spring chicken.  I am not even a winter rooster.  With two dogs, I hoped they could amuse each other.

I decided that argument was not good enough to counter my concern whether I could handle two puppies simultaneously.  And I would have failed -- if dealing with Satan's Spawn (Barco's nickname this week) is any example.

We are in that stage of puppyhood that I had almost completely forgotten.  House-breaking.  Barco has decided that the courtyard is a perfect place to relieve himself.  We have a bit of a disagreement on that.  Translate 'bit of disagreement" into what Ted Cruz thinks about Obamacare -- and you just about have our polar positions.

Fortunately, life is not just about toilet venues -- even for bladder-challenge puppies and OCD dog owners.  Barco has added a good deal of amusement to what was becoming a far too comfortable life -- the malady that convinced me to move away from Salem.

My failure to provide Barco with a fraternal playmate has turned out to not be a problem.  He is a puppy.  He can create fun out of a discarded plastic bottle.  Or four legacy stuffed animals only slightly-used by Professor Jiggs.  Or some hapless butterfly that crosses his path.

And then there are the goats across the street.  Three of them.  He treats them as if they were dogs.  Initially wary of him, the goats now treat him as a mere nuisance.

But there are real dogs.  Lilly, a large breed owned by my neighbor Mary, is a replacement mother figure.  For Barco's first week here, Mary was fostering a young English sheep dog.  Bella and Barco could run and roughhouse for hours -- if we had let them. 

Bella has now gone to her permanent home.  I thought that would leave Barco without a playmate -- other than the goats.  Once again, I was wrong.

Over the Christmas weekend, a pug showed up while Barco was in the goat field gathering ticks in his ears while looking for just the right plastic bag to swallow.  Barco forgot all about Bella.  This time he was larger than his playmate.

The pug lives just down the street.  His name is Lucky -- it could be Loki (even though that strikes me as a bit too Nordic for my neighborhood).  My lack of understanding the name could have been right out of an I Love Lucy episode with Steve playing the part of Ricky Ricardo.

For all of the restrictions Barco has placed on my life, he has added far more than he has taken.  He has reminded me of small joys -- even when it is nothing more than the same food in the same dish three times a day.  Or his desire to simply be held and to trick me into feeling that I have some role in protecting him.

He has also taught me to laugh again.  Watching him hunting butterflies is a reminder that predator DNA lies just below the surface.

Lucky may be his best dog friend.  And Barco is mine.  But you have figured that out already. 

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