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Fabric of Life - The Good Dog Lost

My runnin' buddy - Tuco the Dog

My runnin’ buddy – Tuco the Dog

Label me jaded and you would be mostly right. Growing up as a veterinarian’s kid, animals were utility items.  Same as a John Deere tractor or a Stihl chainsaw.  You maintained them and cared for them as a matter of course because of the utility they afforded at some point.   You certainly did not befriend and name an animal whose tasty bits might be sizzling in a skillet next month.  That would be just plain silly.

Call me maudlin’ or name me as an overly sentimental old man but I have come to appreciate more than is manly admittable; an unequivocal shadow at my side these past 4 years.  I have finally acknowledged few things in this world beat a fine canine and Tuco the Dog has blessed my life in uncountable instance. Miss K sang the praises of Tuco the Dog  before they decided to call the Old Girl home years back.  Me, being accommodatingly polite, would nod and shake my head ‘Yes, baby, I hear ya. Never been a finer dog on the face of this planet for sure.’  Whatever!  Dismissed as just another silly woman overly attached to an animal.  It happens.  I’ve seen it.

It took months of increasingly feigned disinterest for me to finally admit that yes, I loved that silly dog.  Now, mind you, Tuco the Dog will always be Miss K’s hound.  They had an affinity established at earliest age that I would never be able to sunder.  A bond that existed at the highest level of master and servant on a plane where I would never tread.   OK and fine ’cause me and Tuco the Dog had our own thing going on.

The dynamics of our relationship altered when I started to treat her like a four year old child.  She is that smart, honest.  It works like this you see,  Tuco the Dog was all mine for many hours every single day; day in and day out; for months; for years.  Miss K would retire to the sleep cave and until she ventured out again it was just me and Tuco. Tuco and me.  Daddy-dog time.  Miss K was always more subject to the grind than me.  This job wore on her and in deference to that we would go outside.  The sleep cave works best when someone is not clomping around inside shaking it to and fro,  slamming the door , playing the TV or dropping stuff on the floor.  Quiet, still sleep is the most valuable.  Somehow or other, we both learned to tune out the drone of the generator and the clatter beat of the big diesels passing 30 feet from where our heads lay on the pillow.

The morning routine seldom changed.  The cigarettes and lighter would go in the security vest pocket and Tuco would crack an eye at me from over on the sofa where she was snoozin’.    Drag the Kindle out and place it on top of the sign-in sheets.  The head would go up and I became the undeniable center of the universe in Dog World.  When I fetched a cold water out of the fridge she grew a spring on each paw and would happy dance a foot off the ground from one end of the trailer house to the other. Time to get the hell outta Dodge before we woke up Miss K.  To the dog, it was GAME ON!

She had so much energy built up from a night of restrained activity that it usually took a good 20 minutes to run the edge off.  Mouse patrol!  Sniff. Sniff. Run. Run. Run. More Sniff. More Sniff. Run with tongue lolling.  Mouse patrol was over when she stuck half her head in the AC drip bucket and slurped water for 5 minutes.  Time to get down to the business of the day then.  Frigid mornings, blast furnace days, dust so thick it caked your eyes and clogged your throat, she never varied from my side.  I would sit in my chair with her at my feet.  If I just waved a truck through, she would raise her head up and smell as it passed. If I got up, she got up.  I worked and worked to try and train her to stay by the chair when I ventured out in the road but it was no bueno.  Dog logic is a strong force.  If I was out in the middle of the road, she belonged there as well.   She would circle the truck front to back and end up beside me at the driver’s door.  Just like the dogs at the checkpoint in Falfurrias.  I would watch the driver watch her in his rear views as she made her round.  When he glanced up with the question on his face, I would say ‘Drug dog’. I rarely expanded on that comment.  Let ’em think it was so.

***********

Windshield Time

My Treasures - Cait and Henry

My Treasures – Cait and Henry

My BFF Cait deployed to Korea in February for a hard year.  She returned on leave to Tucson to be married on July 4th.  They got married under the wing of an SR-71 Blackbird at the Pima Air and Space Museum.   The reception was next to an Air Force Thunderbirds F4.  You can do that when you are both Air Force NCOs.  It was a joyous, wonderful, magical few days.  My Mom and Dad, Sis and full family, an ex-wife with boyfriend in tow, ex SIL and BIL and my Boy were all there. One ex-SIL I must have horrified to some degree because she fastidiously avoided even eye contact the rest of the week.  No idea what I said to her to elicit this response but it musta been damned good.  It sure blew her dress up.   Don’t get much better.  Henry got his own 22RF M4 bowling ball that was remanded to his Dad for security reasons as he is only 5 years old.  Never too young in my book to get those kids started on all things bowling ball.

It would have been a much harder week if I had let events prior to my departure eat me up.  Somehow or other, I pushed it out of my brain and had a bang up week with the family.   Miss K left last Spring and after considerable talk, we decided to make another go of it.  Perhaps the reconciliation was fated for failure from the start.  I pushed because I could not bear the loss,  Miss K acquiesced due to vanishing resources and lessening options.    At 58,  I am as likely to change as a leopard is to change its’ spots.  (Note to self:  When it comes to affairs of the heart, never settle for almost good enough.)   Christ, why has it taken so long and so many miles for me to take responsibility for that which has always been crystal clear?  Trust was lost.  Love or the reasonable facsimile departed.  One of us to blame as much as the other.  Take the high road and save the disparagement for late at night when the world is still and no one is there to hear the bitterness.  I departed South Texas  for Tucson with her assurance that everything was going to be amicable this time because the previous separation had been so stormy and unsavory.

I rolled into the gate at midnight after driving non-stop from Tucson.  The entire trip consumed by thoughts of what awaited me on my return.   There was a new to me Dodge Durango sitting in front of the Palace purchased by Miss K with unknown resources and dubious logistic help.   A normal round of questions concerning events during my absence was met with pure vitriol and I was informed her departure was going to be right now.  Then I showed my ass and things went from bad to worse.  I need to look up the definition for amicable just to make sure I got it right because her definition and mine are poles apart.

Above all else, Miss K is a survivor. Hard core survivor, make no mistake.  When necessary, her heart becomes so hard a tom cat couldn’t scratch it.   She had the Durango loaded and ready to blast off and allowed me to say a few words to Tuco in the back seat before she roared away.  When I said, ‘You be a good dog Tuco. Gonna miss you!’  she cocked her head a little sideways and gave me the classic WTF Dad? look.  I lost it.  Me.  Mister Tough Guy.  The tears started to roll and it was OK.   I always tell folks I am tougher than I look but sometimes ummmm,  not so much.

Comments closed on this post because honestly there ain’t a damned thing any of y’all can say to take the hurt away or ease the pain when a trust is smashed and violated.  No offense intended friends and neighbors.  Healing comes from within and I am getting on with it; rest assured.

The sun will come up in the morning, the birds will sing and this ol’ world will just keep turning.

“There are no good girls gone wrong – just bad girls found out.”    Mae West

It is what it is, right?

End Note: I Gotta Go by Robert Earl Keen from the Ready for Confetti cd.   The Zune always knows, yes it does.

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