Sunday, August 05, 2012


TACO’S TAIL (TALE)

OK, I don’t think many of you humans know what it’s like to be a dog, particularly a very small dog.  We dogs don’t get much respect as a rule.  There are a lot of references to dogs in our culture and not many of them are complementary, there are even biblical references to dogs and most are not nice at all.  Other than from the “dog lovers” out there, as a species we don’t get much respect (and as for me specifically, you could say I’m the “Rodney Dangerfield” of dogs - and not just because I resemble him - which I kind of do). So I thought it might be good to write a little exposition of sorts of my life to this point. I guess you could call this my tail, er’-tale (you humans and your homonyms, so confusing)
As you may have noticed, one thing you will have to get used to when reading anything I write, is that I have many random thoughts, sometimes related to what I’m talking about and sometimes not so much (but you have to understand my brain is about the size of a marshmallow and my attention span is about as long as it would take me to eat one of them).  They say that in spite of my somewhat limited brain size that I’m pretty smart (but we’re talking “dog smart” here so I’m not letting my head get too big with all that “smart” talk - and my head can’t get too big anyway cause I’m a really small dog and I would fall over frontward).
STREET DOG
So what kind of dog am I?  Who knows? All I know is I’m small and kind of funny looking.  People think I’m some kind of Chihuahua (which when you see it all spelled out like that, is kind of a cool name.  I kind of like it).  Some have said there are “apple head” Chihuahuas (long or short haired) and “deer head” Chihuahuas (mostly short haired).  If I am one, I’m definitely the “deer” head variety.  It is said that when I curl up to lie down, I closely resemble a very small fawn.  I have a long, skinny nose, very large (compared to the rest of me) ears and eyes, and my tail has been referred to as much like a rats.  I’m pretty scrawny (about 6 pounds-and some people still think I’m fat).  Oh well, what are you going to do when your parents are a couple of dogs? I have to play the cards I was dealt in this life.  Speaking of my parents, I have no idea what the heck kind of dogs they were.  I’m guessing one of them (probably my birth mother, whom I refer to as “the b - - - -“, was the Chihuahua. As for my birth father, I’m guessing he was some no account drifter, probably a migrant worker (sorry for not being politically correct).  FYI, another thing we of Chihuahuan ancestry have to put up with is a lot of racial innuendo; reference my given name, Taco.  Rumor has it that as if “Taco” isn’t bad enough (yo quiero Taco Bell and all that) my humans (who I actually do like-ok, maybe even love) were contemplating calling me “Pedro”.  Anyway, I’m thinking my birth father blew into town (maybe with the circus – you know those dogs with the tutus and such) some Saturday night looking for some action, and Lord knows on the SE side of town (not too far from where I was eventually found and claimed) there is plenty of action to be had.  Well, my father (and I use the term loosely) did what he had the urges to do and then skedaddled back to wherever he came from.  I never saw him and I’m pretty sure he never stuck around to even know I existed.
Anyway, so now my poor mom (“the b - - - - “) is “you know what” with a belly full of me and however many others there were of us in there.  Of course I don’t remember being born, when or where or any of those details, but I can imagine we were about the ugliest little slimy, hairless, squeakers ever.  Some (like my sweet human mom) would probably say we were “so cute” but they only would be saying that to be nice, or it would be like “they’re so ugly they’re cute” (I’ve heard that plenty my whole life-but as they say it’s the personality that counts and they say I’ve got a great one of those).  So somehow we survived, mom, my sibs and me.  But as, I suppose, is natural for “dogs”, we all got separated (which I’m alright with because whatever I could find to eat I didn’t have to share-come to think of it I’m still not real great at sharing, every dog for himself is my motto). 
 I kicked around a little bit, a little here, a little there, a while here, a while there . . . not a great life, but I survived.  I can’t tell you how many times I felt alone, like nobody cared whether I lived or died, how many times I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from.  Many nights I never knew if I would be able to find a warm or soft place to lay this hungry bag of bones.  And talk about scarry, yipes!  People say I’m ugly, but you would cringe if you saw some of the gruesome critters that were almost always chasing me.  Again, I’m about the littlest version of a canine there is and almost anything, from rats to humans, are bigger than me and, I guess, figured I would be a tasty (all be it somewhat hairy and scrawny) morsel.  So when people call me “street dog” (which happens pretty frequently) I take no offense.  I’m proud of my survival during those days. I consider being called “street dog” a badge of courage!
NEW DIGS
Then my fortunes, my very life, changed forever.  Who says that life stinks?  Who says that nothing good ever happens to us?  Who says there’s no God, no Grace?  If you ever hear people say that, tell them about me. . . A little over 5 years ago (wow, time flies when you’re a dog and you sleep 80 percent of your life-but I’m cool with that), I’m thinking it was springish of 2007, I was found by the sweetest, dog lovingest, prettiest, awesomest (working on my good doggy points here, bear with me) lady I’ve ever seen. She happened to be driving around and I happened to be walking around and she spotted me.  I was a flea ridden, undernourished bag of bones, at that time just trying to stay alive.  She stopped her big old car/truck kind of thing she was driving (I later heard them refer to it as her “Suburban”, which was kind of strange because she lived in the “city”) and started coming after me.  Of course I had been chased by all kinds of creatures my whole life so my instinct was to get away, but she was persistent (which was amazing because she didn’t know me from any other “slumdog” (no millionaire here) up and down the street.  She cornered me, but there was something different about her and her approach.  It kind of paralyzed me, kind of neutralized my fear.  She really seemed like she wanted to help me and not hurt me like I was so used to.  I decided to give up (best decision I ever made).  I remember she picked me up (I probably peed on her as I seemed to do a lot of that back then) but she treated me very well.  I remember she went to a bunch of the houses around there and asked if I belonged to anybody or if anybody knew who I did belong to.  I could have told her I had nobody, nobody seemed to want a “stick dog” like me around for long.  She eventually took me to her home.  
“Home”, what a great word!  It implies belonging. Not sure I’d ever experienced that before, not that I remember anyway, but I sure liked it.  Four walls, a roof, comfy furniture, warm blankets and FOOD and WATER. Oh sooo good (did I mention FOOD?).  While these new humans were really good to me, I was in for a bit of a surprise.  There were already two other dogs occupying this home, never good when you’re the new guy.  Well as you can imagine I got busy right away “marking” my territory in this place (that didn’t seem to make these normally good natured humans too happy??).  Of these two other dogs, they called one of them “Sammy” and the other “Rosie”.  Based on their names and some (not so) stealth sniffing, I determined they were b - - - -s (sorry I’m in a nice home now and I have to clean up my act) er’ girls (although the small one really did fit the b-word pretty well).  That “Sammy” (about my size but a lot furrier) was pretty old and extremely ornery.  She was not at all thrilled that I was around and helping myself to “her” food (no worries, I’ve dealt with her type before).  The big one (about ten times bigger than me and also a lot furrier) didn’t seem to mind at all (I’m not sure she noticed I was even there, she’s pretty laid back).  She’s actually still around and we are good buddies to this day (even though she’s now like 100 years old, shed’s her hair all over the place, fart’s all the time, has bad breath and breathes so hard all night long nobody can get any sleep and don’t even get me started on if it’s storming outside, sheesh!).  Anyway this new, super sweet human lady was having a hard time (though I know she gave it the old college try) finding where I really belonged.  I, of course, knew I belonged right here with her and her (super good looking) daughter, so I turned on the old “Latin” charm.  You know what they say about Chihuahuas, we’re 50% fighters and 50% lovers.  I dialed up that lover part because I really wanted to stay.  It must have worked because, despite all the freakish looks they would send my way, I think they really got attached to me too.  Now, a good five years later, I’m (what I’d like to think) a huge (funny word to describe a small dog like me) part of this family.
FIVE FAST YEARS
In the five years I’ve been here we’ve had some great times (there’s been some rotten times too, like the time I got nailed by this stinky looking cat-like creature with a stripe down it’s back, who knew they could send that foul smelling pee such a distance so accurately.  That really smarted.  The human parental units were not too happy about that either but they scrubbed me up pretty well).  Over time, I actually moved with my new family into three different houses, but you know what, they all seemed like “home” because we were all together.  They say “home is where the mom is” and I had one (a mom) that I really loved.  
Sadly, after a while, that ornery little furry dog they called Sammy went to the big doggie blanket (I say blanket because my favorite thing in the whole world is to cuddle up in a warm blanket-particularly if my human mom is cuddled up in the same blanket) in the sky. (I understand Sammy was really not so bad when she was younger and that she had some ”condition” that made living not such a pleasant thing for her anymore).  She was missed by the whole family (well, not so much by me).
I remember meeting lots of other dogs through the years (like Dozer, the big black one across the street).  For some reason, I always think I have to yell at them so they will leave us alone.  Once in a while they’ll yell back (and most of them have a much louder, deeper voice than me and that’s kind of scary and embarrassing).  Sometimes my humans talk about me being small and having this “Napoleon Complex”, not sure what that is but it sounds kind of serious (I hope it’s not fatal). 
Everybody treats me pretty well now, but there’s this one guy, he looks something like a younger version of the big one I’m supposed to call dad.  Everybody calls him Matt.  He’s tall too and he seems to enjoy annoying me (dad does this sometimes too-but not like this guy).  He would stick me in places I couldn’t get out of, he would stick me up on high shelves, chase me around, and all kinds of not so fun stuff. But it’s not so bad, I know he was just playing.  I have to say he is the one I can thank for getting me the most treats I’ve ever had (never enough treats though, just saying).  He worked with me and trained me to do some stuff that always gets a pretty happy reaction from human types and then they hand me a treat of some sort (Rosie’s never impressed though, she just wants the treats without doing anything). So now if a human is holding even a particle of food in their hands and kind of waving it at me, I will do practically anything.  I will sit, lay, roll over and play dead (hey, it’s degrading but the treats the thing man-it’s all about the food).  All in all I’ve got no complaints.  
Along the way I’ve even had the chance to do some traveling.  If there’s one thing I hate almost as much as getting nailed by a skunk, it is being left home when mom and dad (pretty much it’s only mom I miss, but don’t tell dad about that part-let him think I miss him too) go traveling somewhere.  Lately, though, they’ve taken me along quite often.  Last year we had a swell trip to some place they called “out west”.  We spent some really cold nights in a “Kanpin Kabin” (ok, that’s not me just being a dumb dog speller, that’s really the way they spelled it-even a donut hole sized brain dog like me knows that’s spelled wrong).  It was cold at night but we had great times during the day.  I even got to “french kiss” with a jack ass (no not dad-although I have done that on Saturday mornings when we’re all sleeping in) er’ donkey at Custer State Park.  Whoa that was a little freaky.  I think those ugly things want food even more than I do (doesn’t sound possible I know) but mom started feeding them some chips (hey, come to think of it she didn’t give me any) or something and they stuck their heads right in the car windows looking for more.  Well, being the brave family protector I am, I had to yell a little bit to try to get them out of there.  One of them licked me, eeeouww, not sure what I think about that.  He probably thought I was some kind of fruit or something (hey, I’ve been neutered but I’m not a fruit).  Anyway, we had a good time and I’m glad they take me (and leave Rosie home - ha ha sucka) on some of their trips.  I think we are going to have more fun trips together in the future.
There are many other mad cap adventures I’ve had over the years, but this story is already getting kind of long (not like me to be long).

A GOD THING
I guess you could say my human family is kind of religious (thus Rosie and I can always be found home alone on Sunday mornings, but that’s a good day to sleep in-come to think of it every day is a good day to sleep in).  There’s an expression I hear fairly often around the house.  They say “it’s a God thing”.   I think they say that when something turns out unexpectedly well in a random sort of way.  I’ve actually heard them say that’s what it is for me to be here with this family.  You see, this family has been through a lot.  Just a year or so before I came around this was actually two families, each with a mom, dad and three kids.  Then something unthinkable happened.  Mom’s family, unexpectedly, lost their husband/father and I know they loved him very much.  Shortly after that dad’s family lost, also unexpectedly, their wife/mother and they, too, loved her very much.  Both families were devastated and changed forever.  They were working hard to put the pieces of their lives back together when mom found me.  About that same time, these two families were starting to get to know each other (also a “God thing”) and soon after that we all became one big happy, blended family.  It has been said that because I was found about the same time as they found each other, I am looked at as a sort of family “mascot” as it were.  Like God (note that dog is God spelled backwards, so I know we dogs hold a special place in God’s creation) brought me to this new blended family as a sort of common thread that helps to tie us together into a tighter bond.  
I know this God is good. I know he is a God that works at redemption, and is constantly in the process of redeeming this world.  The greatest thing I can think of is that He has used me, a geeky, small, otherwise pretty insignificant creature to somehow give this family some additional joy.  Really, isn’t that what we dogs really want (well, right after food) is to see our humans happy and their tails wagging?  It has been said that it’s a “God thing” that I am here with this family.  I think they’re right, and my tails wagging too.

Grace to all . . . 
Taco  (aka - Toc, Tikity Toc, What’s Up Toc, Big Guy, Buster, Tacos, Butthead, My Man, Taco Va, Rat Dog, Killer, Buddy - you know, I guess I’ll answer to just about anything - if there’s food)