Dog Tired

Idon’t wish to alarm you, but it has recently come to my attention that Casey has gotten her first flea.

For those of you who are not familiar with Casey, she is a five-year-old dog belonging to the Horton family. Many of you, I’m sure, have heard of her, as she is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records under the heading “Living Organism with Fewest Functioning Brain Cells.”

The only Horton who actively disputes this is the wife, whose name is “Belva,” which sounds like an exotic fruit, like “Kiwi” or “Mauga,” or something. Belva insists that Casey is highly intelligent — so intelligent, in fact, that each and every Wednesday, when The Lake Elsinore News is flung on the front lawn, she (Casey) knows instinctively that she should immediately chew it up beyond recognition. I’ll bet the rest of you have to ask the domestic help to do that for you.

Belva is very fond of Casey, to the point where she asked me not to print her or Casey’s actual names for fear that someone will find out where the Hortons live and come and steal their dog because they think she is amazingly intelligent. I assured her I would make certain that no one thinks Casey is smart after reading my column.

When Belva begins arguing on behalf of Casey (POINT #1: If Casey’s so smart, why can’t she argue for herself?), I usually point out the several million times that I have knocked on the door and immediately heard Casey barking furiously, as though she knew, by some kind of mutant dog instinct, that the person on the other side of that door simply had to be either Charles Manson or a Jehovah’s Witness, and as soon as someone opened the door (POINT #2: If Casey’s so smart, why can’t she open the door herself?), Casey would lunge at me, go past me, and relieve herself on my car. Belva says Casey does this to warn me. Casey, she says, is a very passive dog.

As you can no doubt tell, I am a great fan of Casey’s. You can imagine, then, how distressed I was a few weeks ago when (and this really happened) I received an urgent phone call from Belva informing me that Casey had somehow gotten a flea. Fortunately, I was relieved to hear, Belva’s husband Gerry killed it. The flea, not the dog. Belva then asked me when I was going to write a column about Casey.

(I love how people assume I am eventually going to write about every topic imaginable, and it’s just a matter of when.)

But as long as we’re talking about dogs, I should mention the dog I saw in Arkansas that had two tails. Now, when you hear me say “dog with two tails,” I’m sure you immediately assume that, this being Arkansas, either there had been a little in-breeding going on the dog kingdom, or this dog lives downstream from a nuclear power plant. This was what I assumed, but I later learned that the second tail was, in fact, just a large clump of matted hair. The dog’s owners have tried constantly since they got him to get close enough to cut the hair off, but the dog has gotten very attached to it, so to speak, and refuses to let them remove it. It’s as if he had a mind of his own, or something.

When this was published, my editor was genuinely afraid of being sued by the Hortons, so he replaced their name with "a family I know." The Hortons still have this dog, and it's just as stupid as ever, though the Hortons themselves are still nice people, relatively speaking.