JACK AND THE TENUOSITY OF LIFE

(Tenuosity is a new word and is not misspelled)

We have a dog–two actually. Jack is not pictured so he cannot be readily identified in the event formal charges are levied against him. His formal name is Jack Daniels–the surname of Daniels representing a long line of Jacks stretching back decades. His brother’s surname is Pepper. Pep is highly educated, receiving his doctorates from two renowned schools of higher learning: University of Wyoming and Brigham Young University. Pep relishes his experiences at both institutions but doesn’t say much about either. It’s probably just as well.

Jack is threatening to get himself killed. His pending demise is due to his developing taste for goat meat. Ruth and my brother have a herd of these miserable creatures. Jack has snacked on two of the younger crowd; snatching the life right out of them as they attempted to escape his flashing teeth. Trouble is no one saw him dispatch the goats. Otherwise he’d already be heading for the last round-up. Seeing Jack eat fresh killed goat meat and seeing him kill in order to eat goat meat carries weighted consequences; one has an immediate execution penalty. It is a rule and the rule is not applied equally. If it even looked like he’d been eying a yearling steer, he would already be there, i.e. dog heaven, purgatory, dog hell, places like that. You see cows are important; goats not so much.

There is precedence for the unequal application of the rule. The old man had a dog–a good one. In fact, that “damn” dog saved his life. Dad fell into a sink hole and was having a difficult time getting himself extricated. The dog grabbed him by the coat sleeve and pulled him to safety. It was an event. It had everyone talking about and extolling the “damn” dog ad nauseum. Two weeks later the old man caught the dog chasing cows. And that ended that hero dog’s good graces as well as his life. The family still talks about that dog. Though dead, he’s still praised, eulogized, and held in high esteem. “One hellava dog,” my old man use to say every time the subject came up. “One hellava dog.” He doesn’t talk about that dog anymore because he’s dead, too.

That wasn’t the first time. When I was five my mother, dad, baby sister, and I went from Wyoming to Missouri to visit mother’s folks. It was a first. In the midst of leaving, my dog suddenly disappeared. I looked all over for him–everywhere I’d ever been. My searching was restricted by my short legs and limited vision. The old man told me the “damn” dog had swam across the river. The Big Horn was plenty wide so all I could do is stare at the other side and call him. He never came. I was a forlorn and pitiful sight. I found out fourteen years later that the old man had shot him so we could go visit my grandmother–so he wouldn’t have to worry about the “damn” dog.

It must have worked. My old man never seemed to worry– not about dogs.

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