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Comments Off on Our Town – November 2, 2017

Our Town – November 2, 2017

| Animals, Cats, Dogs, Our Town | November 2, 2017

The Soupster visits the vets office.

Anton’s paws were a mess. The dignified long-haired jet-black Maine Coon cat hid a secret between his tufted foot pads – the sharp nails on his front paws grew in a tight circle and right back into the skin.

The veterinarian had spread Anton’s paw pads up to the light to show the Soupster the uncomfortable stuff his beloved cat walked upon. Traces of blood could be seen around the nails.

“I’m shocked he doesn’t limp or wince or something,” said the Soupster.

“Some cats can be pretty stoic,” the vet said, as he used small nippers on the cat’s claws, “Especially these Maine Coons.”

“Quite a back story, the Maine Coons have,” continued the medico. “They were supposed to have been the long-haired pets of Queen Marie Antoinette of France. She sent the cats to America, expecting to escape the French Revolution and come to America herself later on. Unfortunately, she waited until it was too late and got guillotined.”

“I’ve heard that,” said the Soupster. “The cats were released into the winter wilds of New England, where they mated with raccoons and developed their thick coats.”

“Well, that part isn’t true,” said the vet.

“Colorful, though,” the Soupster said.

“Anyhow, the placid nature and striking looks of these cats make them one of the most favored breeds in the U.S.,” the vet said. He stroked Anton’s head and then went back to nipping at his claws. “Few more minutes,” the vet said. Anton looked unperturbed, so the Soupster walked into clinic’s outer waiting room.

Sam Grace and his wife Judy sat there. A medium-sized black-and-white dog stretched on out the floor with his front feet on Sam’s boots.

“Nice looking dog,” said the Soupster to Sam. “What is he?”

“Miss Pepper is a mixed breed,” Sam said. “A shelter mutt.”

“She’s smart enough that I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she had some border collie in her,” added Judy. “She knows so many words!”

“She knows the difference between the ball and the big ball, and she’ll bring you the big ball if that’s what you’re asking for,” said Sam. “Good girl,” he murmured as he reached down to scratch Pepper’s head. “Miss Pepper is here for her certificate of health. We want to take her traveling with us.”

“Do you have a dog here, too?” Judy asked.

“A cat,” said the Soupster. “Anton. Nice big healthy boy. Except he has front claws that get all ingrown. So I have to bring him in for a pedicure twice a year.”

“That’s very caring of you,” Judy said. “You sound like a good owner.”

“Owner?” said the Soupster, “No, no, no, no, no.”

“Huh?” asked Sam.

“Dogs have owners,” the Soupster said firmly. “Cats have staff.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – September 7, 2017

Our Town – September 7, 2017

| Animals, Dogs, Neighbors, Our Town, Relationships, Small Town Stuff | September 7, 2017

The Soupster recounts how a good prop can save the day.

“Wild beard – check, rough clothes – check,” said the Soupster to himself, as he stared at the large form of Granville Brickface standing at the coffee counter.

“Five shot venti Americano,” boomed Granville in a bass impressive enough to literally blow back the barrista’s hair (well, almost literally). Granville collected his potion and parked his bulk on the far side of the crowded coffee shop.

“Giant voice – check,” the Soupster muttered.

Granville Brickface was not the biggest guy in Our Town, but – with his wild beard, rough clothes and giant voice — he definitely took up the most space. Crowds seemed to part when he showed up. Dogs and birds went silent.

The Soupster remembered one time when a delicately-engraved invitation had arrived in Granville’s mail, with multiple pages and tissue papers in between each page. Granville was distantly related to some pretty lofty Our Town residents of the past and was being invited to the wedding of the daughter of one of the loftiest present-day Our Town residents.

The invite had required serious cogitation on Granville’s part. The guy was big, but not mean. He did not want to scandalize the ceremony with his usual “casual” garb, when the rest of the partygoers went formal. He did not want to do anything to rattle the nuptials. He would buy a suit.

“And get a haircut, for goodness sakes,” Granville heard in his mother’s voice inside his
head. He decided he would do that, too.

But successful social engagements are not based solely on appearance, Granville had remembered. People are required to talk with one another. A problem, he thought, that was more enigmatic than a haircut.

The Soupster had suggested a strategy from his long-ago experience with dating. He told Granvillle to anticipate the questions people would ask of him and, like a politician readying for a debate, prepare polite answers and memorize them. So Granville did.

The morning of the wedding, Granville took his newly-shorn and freshly-laundered self to visit the elderly woman who lived next door, as a test run.  Mrs. Cox was delighted with Granville’s transformation.

“It’s remarkable,” she said. “I’m nearly not afraid of you.”

“Do you think I’m ready?” Granville asked, purposely speaking in a low voice because of all the crystal glassware lining the breakfront shelves.

“Well,” said Mrs. Cox, tapping one finger against her chin.  “Maybe we can improve things a bit more.”

“Princess Lorna Doone!” Mrs. Cox called out and her tiny, fluffy, impossibly cute Pomeranian yapped into the room.

“Take Princess with you, Granville,” said Mrs. Cox. “Everybody loves Lorna!”

Granville did and Princess Lorna Doone earned her salt. All afternoon, Granville had a small crowd of people surrounding him, all wanting to pet and hold the dog. The memorized answers allowed Granville to appear almost charming.

And he got the best compliment of all when some cousin, taking in Granville’s fresh haircut, crisp suit and tiny dog, said, “I didn’t know Granville had a brother!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – October 6, 2016

Our Town – October 6, 2016

| Animals, Dogs, Our Town | October 6, 2016

The Soupster and four colleagues view the astounding

Outside the supermarket, the Soupster occupied the driver’s seat of his car. He waited impatiently for his friend Ted to emerge with the cold drinks the two men had been craving since spending the afternoon cutting and hauling firewood.

He looked at the car’s clock, calculating the time that Ted would take chatting with the checkout person.

In the black SUV parked to the right, a regal-looking dog — maybe some Afghan hound in the blood? – sat in the driver’s seat and peered back at the Soupster. The Afghan looked royally bored.

Up and to the left, a Pug-faced mixed-breed dog also sat in the driver’s seat of his owner’s small hatchback, watching the sliding front door of the market with grim intensity for his human to appear.

In the pickup parked perpendicular, two barking Shih Tzu resembled animated stuffed toys. Their sturdy little legs were propped against the pickup’s window and they barked in perfect unison at landing ravens, passing humans and nothing in particular. The tiny dogs also stared at the supermarket door, waiting for their personal human to emerge.

“Where’s Ted?” thought the Soupster — picturing himself checking his watch and tapping his foot – although he actually slouched in his seat and looked again at the dashboard clock.

The Pug-faced dog had moved to the passenger seat for a better view of the front door. The Afghan regarded that same front door and yawned. The Shih Tzu had switched to a first-one-then-the-other style of yipping, probably to husband their resources for what was turning out to be a longish haul.

They were all trapped, the Soupster thought, regarding his plight and that of his canine peers. All vibrant organisms in tin cans waiting for their rescuers. In the Soupster’s case, he was held by his social bond with Ted. The dogs were even more inextricably bound in their metal prisons, having neither thumbs nor car keys.

Did that make Ted and the dog owners prison-keepers, thought the Soupster?

As people filed in and out of the front door, the Pug-faced dog jumped excitedly back and forth between driver and passenger seats. The Shih Tzu switched back to barking in unison. Even the Afghan joined in with low howling.

“Oh, my,” said the Soupster.

Then a white station wagon pulled into an open parking spot. While the dogs kept up their din, the driver of the white wagon stepped out of his door and opened the rear hatch. Inside was a golden retriever-mix dog. The driver patted the dog on the head, then turned and went into the store – AND LEFT THE REAR HATCH OPEN.

The Afghan was so aghast, it ceased howling. The Shih Tzu, too, were silent, although they still moved their tiny mouths. Only the Pug retained his voice and grunted with scores of questions.

The golden retriever wasn’t tied in. The hatch was open. His owner was gone. Why didn’t he bolt?

The Soupster – and, he imagined, the dogs – pondered the question. Why didn’t the retriever bolt?

But then Ted was in the car with the drinks.

“Long line, sorry,” Ted said, popping his can top, taking a long swallow and registering the Soupster’s far away expression. “See anything interesting?”

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 25, 2016

Our Town – February 25, 2016

| Animals, Dogs, Our Town, Pets | February 25, 2016

The Soupster encounters a man and beast who won’t talk with their mouth full.

Big and tall, and perpetually chewing a carpenter’s pencil, Hank Waterstone epitomized the 21st Century American fashion of very large men owning small dogs. A generation ago, men like Hank would have been no more likely to be seen with a Chihuahua-terrier mix than they would tote a floral purse.

But here they were, the 12-pound Jupiter straining against his leash and pulling the 240-lb. general contractor along Our Town’s downtown sidewalk.

Jupiter, known to yip-yip-yip quite vigorously on occasion, was silent. He had to be – stuffed in his mouth was a yellow octopus plush toy. Five of its eight tentacles hung from Jupiter’s jaws, while the dog held three of the legs and the head in his teeth.

Coming the other way, the Soupster spotted the yellow toy first and he had a wisecrack ready as he sidled up to big man and little hound.

“Jupiter’s octopus is as bright as those lime green reflective jackets the smart cyclists wear,” the Soupster said. “Is that to increase the little fella’s visibility?”

“It’s to decrease his audibility,” Hank said. He reached down and pulled the octopus out of Jupiter’s mouth. Jupiter immediately launched into his staccato yip-yip-yipping. It shocked the Soupster how loud a sound could come out of such a little dog. Hank replaced the octopus and the yipping stopped.

“An on-off switch,” Hank said tersely and chewed on his carpenter’s pencil.

Gretchen Greely walked up to the two men. “Afternoon, Gents,” she said. “Cute dog.”

Hank mutely chewed on the pencil, so the Soupster interjected, “His name is Jupiter. He has an on-off switch.”

Gretchen made a puzzled face, so the Soupster reached down and grabbed the yellow octopus from Jupiter. Yip-yip-yip, Jupiter protested. The Soupster gave the dog the toy and the yipping stopped.

“Works every time,” said the Soupster.

Jupiter started making little “grrr” noises and a big drop of drool fell to the sidewalk. Hank, chewing vigorously on his pencil, plucked Jupiter up and cradled the dog against one side of his chest.

“How are you, Hank?” Gretchen asked.

Hank said nothing, just chewing his pencil.

Gretchen lurched forward and plucked the pencil from between Hank’s lips.

“Hey,” said Hank, “what are you doing! I was chewing on that!” He followed his words with a litany of unprintables.

Despite Hank’s complaints, Gretchen addressed the Soupter. “I just wanted to see if the on-off switch worked for him, too.” She pointed to the sputtering Hank. “Evidently, it does.”

The Soupster laughed. “Like man, like dog,” he said.

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Comments Off on Our Town – November 6, 2014

Our Town – November 6, 2014

| Animals, Dogs, Jokes, Our Town | November 6, 2014

The Soupster hears about charlatans, wrongly accused.

The Soupster stepped out of the rain and into the lobby of Our Town’s airport to pick up an express shipment. He hoped that someday the animal heads and fish lined up along the front beam could be made animatronic, like something out of Disneyland. Visitors would take it as noteworthy, the Soupster surmised, if a 70-lb. king salmon winked at them and said, “Welcome to Our Town!” or “Please come visit Our Town again.”

The gangway swung open and passengers spilled out. The serious travelers flowed right out the front door, having whittled their fashion and toiletry needs down to carry-on size. The rest of the crowd oozed slowly toward the luggage carousel. At the front counter, the Soupster was told he could retrieve his package in a few minutes.

“Hi, Soupster!” said Skye Claire, sideling up next to him. Skye was a professional entertainer who holed up in Our Town periodically to hide from her adoring fans. “How’s my favorite purveyor of miscellaneous items soaked in rainwater?”

“And my best wishes to you, Miss Skye,” the Soupster said with a barely perceptible bow. “What’s new in the entertainment business?”

“I met a talking dog,” said Skye.

“I’m listening,” said the Soupster.

“So, I’m in the office of a talent agent in Seattle who’s trying out new acts for the annual Rainier Review,” she recounted. “I’m standing by the door filling out some contract forms, when the agent lets in the next act for an audition.

“’Spartacus, the Wonder Dog!’ trumpets the owner of a speckled black-and-white, longhaired medium size hound. ‘Spartacus will now answer three questions.’”

“What was the owner like?” asked the Soupster.

“A bit forgettable,” said Skye. “Plus, me and the talent agent are busy staring at the dog.

“’Spartacus,’ says the owner. ‘What do you call the material on the outside of a tree?’

“‘Bark!’ yelps the dog enthusiastically. The talent agent raises his eyebrows.

“’Spartacus,’ says the owner. ‘Name a three-masted wooden cargo ship from the 19th century.’

“’Barque,’ yips Spartacus. The agent crosses his arms and looks stern.

“’Spartacus,’ the owner says a third time. ‘What is the best brand of root beer?’

“’Barq’s’ Spartacus says.

“’That’s enough, you charlatans!’ says the talent agent, who comes out from behind his desk and scoots both man and dog out of the office. I slip out with them. The agent goes back inside and slams his door.

“Spartacus looks up at his owner. ‘Henry Weinhard?’ Spartacus says. I almost fainted.”

 

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Comments Off on Our Town – September 25, 2014

Our Town – September 25, 2014

| Animals, Dogs, Our Town | September 25, 2014

The Soupster discovers new uses for seawater.

As he strolled up the uneven causeway to the seaside home of his new friend, Warren Peece, the Soupster thought, “My friends have funny names.”

It was a dark and stormy night. The Soupster trod carefully around the potholes that filled with rain in just a few minutes.

The kind of big-drop rainfall that another of the Soupster’s friends, Rex Havick, thought came down too hard on Our Town to be just falling and had to be the result of somebody throwing it at us.

Warren’s home was a snug-looking place, but on a night like this, perched precariously on some rocks the ocean could shift with a mere shrug, disappearing between sea spray and downpour, Warren’s abode looked awfully alone and the Soupster felt a pang of concern for his friend.

So, after greeting Warren, before even shedding his Tufs, the Soupster got right to the point.

“I would worry about being out here all by myself,” he said.

“Nothing is going to happen to me,” Warren said.

“What if a bad person came out here while you were sleeping?”

“No one’s coming out to bother this old man,” said Warren. “Seawater will protect me.”

The Soupster figured Warren was right – who would trek out to this lonely spot on the ocean? There were more convenient places for mischief.

Warren went into the kitchen to check on the dinner. As his friend bunked around in the other room, the Soupster couldn’t help but salivate. He had heard that Warren was a consummate cook and waiting for tonight’s fare – some kind of family-secret-wine-and-herb-poached halibut – the Soupster felt like a kid who couldn’t wait a second more to start eating.

But as the Soupster looked around the living room, he had to laugh. Warren might be top chef, but he was no housekeeper. Newspapers and books in waist-high piles made impromptu tables for Warren to pile other stuff and he did, and then piled more stuff on top of that.

Warren came back into the living room and handed the Soupster one of his famous homemade brews. The Soupster noted a recent cut on Warren’s forearm.

“Nasty,” said the Soupster, pointing the bottle neck at Warren’s wound.

“Not to worry,” said Warren. “Seawater took care of it. Ready to eat?”

Warren brought plates to the table and the Soupster noticed they were sparkling clean – despite the messiness of everything else. Warren doled out the halibut only slightly faster than the famished Soupster scarfed it down.

Sated finally, the Soupster leaned back in his chair and patted his bloated belly. “Just delicious,” he said. “And I have to compliment you on how clean you got the dishes.”

“As clean as Seawater can make ‘em,” said Warren. The Soupster chuckled at the thought of his thrifty and unconventional friend.

There were still a few slivers of halibut and dollops of sauce on the Soupster’s plate.

“You going to finish that?” Warren asked.

“I couldn’t cram in another bite,” the Soupster said.

“Not to worry,” said Warren and put the Soupster’s plate onto the floor. “Seawater!” Warren called out and for the first time, the Soupster noticed an ancient hound sleeping on a blanket by the stove.

The old dog roused himself and went to work on the plate.

“See?” said Warren. “Not to worry!”

 

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Comments Off on Our Town – July 3, 2014

Our Town – July 3, 2014

| Animals, Dogs, Our Town, Pets | July 3, 2014

The Soupster learns that bravery comes in many forms.

Prince Little, the chihuahua, huddled under a salmonberry thicket, hiding out. He was only a few blocks from his home, but little creatures don’t have to go far to have big adventures.

How to explain how he ended up in the salmonberries? First, the front door was left open, then the fence gate. He spotted a stunning poodle-corgi mix and before he made any kind of decision he was already in hot pursuit. He scarcely realized he was running, even as he was getting lost.

Mademoiselle Corgi was fleet and Prince Little could no longer see her. But he did see the two big cars that came very close and one honked angrily. Bicycles swished by, spraying him with drizzle. A jogger. A really big dog who smelled like teeth. Prince Little was an inside guy, and the salmonberry thicket seemed the closest thing to inside that he could find.

Only a few blocks away, Jennifer Boveen, Prince Little’s owner, paced her house with grief and worry. Tomorrow was the big parade and she was marching with the summer school band and had to practice her flute. But how could she? Prince Little was her practice partner, always listening, sitting quietly while she played, his thin tail swishing back and forth like a metronome. Where was Prince Little?

Jennifer couldn’t bring herself to even open her flute case. Her parents offered her all sorts of bribes, but nothing could dispel the dark cloud of Prince Little’s disappearance. She went to bed early, dreading having to march and play her flute, when all she wanted to do was pull her blankets over her head.

Morning – parade day. Jennifer had breakfast with her parents, who treated her gently. They told her they’d be cheering from the sidelines and they were proud of her. They watched their daughter leave, wearing her band uniform and carrying her flute — a brave little soldier.

Jennifer arrived at parade lineup and disappeared among the excited cacophony of band members. Her friends were so wired, Jennifer’s gloominess went unnoticed. The bandleader called for the musicians to take their places. And off they went, Jennifer doing her musical best as they played the song she had practiced for hours in her room, Prince Little wagging his tail at her side.

Two blocks ahead, inside the salmonberry thicket, Prince Little’s ears perked up. For the last hour, the street in front of the bushes had filled with chattering strangers, and the chihuahua had slid further back into the thicket. The crowd started making a lot of noise and Prince Little shivered.

And then a sound coming down the street, the blaring summer band belting out the tune that Jennifer had practiced for hours with Prince Little at her side. As the band got closer still, the dog’s small, keen ears recognized the familiar sound of a particular flute playing a familiar song in a most particular way. He picked up Jennifer’s smell, sealing the deal. Prince Little tore out of the salmonberries, ran past the Soupster and into the middle of the band, and danced around Jennifer’s feet. In celebration, she played her heart out.

The very next day, when they announced that the school summer band took first prize for musical acts, Prince Little’s dancing was awarded a special mention.

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 8, 2014

Our Town – May 8, 2014

| Animals, Crazy Theories, Dogs, Our Town | May 8, 2014

The Soupster copes with unpleasant memories.

“You hate my dog!” Laura overheard through the library stack. “You revile my pooch.”

Laura the Librarian, with an armful of books, turned the corner, “Soupster?” she said “Is that you?”

“Uh, oh,” the Soupster said. “Was I talking out loud?”

“Something about dogs?” said Laura. “Something about hating dogs?”

The Soupster reddened. “I am a confirmed animal lover,” he said guiltily. “I actually like dogs third best, right after cats and Australians.”

“Then why did you say you hated your dog?” said Laura.

“It’s just an expression I use to control my bad thoughts,” the Soupster answered.

“Stay there,” said Laura, as she tipped the books in her arms onto a nearby empty shelf. She smoothed her blouse and gave her shoulders and head a little shake. “Now,” she said to the Soupster, “Tell me what on Earth you are talking about.”

The Soupster looked around to see if anyone else was listening. “Well,” he said, lowering his voice, “When I say, `You hate my dog,’ it really has nothing to do with dogs, or hatred, or even you, for that matter.”

“You know, when a person has a memory of something that didn’t turn out so well?” the Soupster went on. “And when they figure out what they should have done that would have worked out fifty times better? Or when they remember something somebody once said and only now can they think of the perfect thing they should have said back then?

“I don’t have these problems,” said Laura,

“Consider yourself lucky, then,” said the Soupster. “But my mind sometimes gets locked in kind of negative territory. My saying, `You hate my dog’ breaks me loose.”

“Tell me Soupster,” said Laura. “how did you come up with saying you hate your dog… er… my dog? Oh, you know what I mean.”

“Well,” said the Soupster, “It started a long time ago with the old saying, `Love me, love my dog.’ That morphed into `Hate me, hate my dog.’ Finally, just, `You hate my dog.’”

“Fascinating, your noggin,” said Laura.

“Show me the noggin what ain’t,” said the Soupster.

“Well, your noggin, especially, ain’t ain’t,” Laura said.

“You hate my dog!” said the Soupster.

“Wait just a minute,” said Laura. “Didn’t you just finish telling me that all this had nothing to do with me or dogs or hatred or dog hatred or anything?”

“Ooops,” the Soupster said.

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Comments Off on Our Town – November 15, 2012

Our Town – November 15, 2012

| Animals, Dogs, Guest Written, Mary Ann Jones, Our Town | November 14, 2012

Our Town resident Chauncey Whelan was riding his bicycle down Lake Street when he happened to glance over and saw a large dog chasing the ducks at the lake. “For Heaven’s sake,” he thought. “I need to go over there and break that up.”

Being a good citizen, Chauncey stopped, got off his bike and started to walk towards the commotion. The dog saw him and suddenly turned its attention away from the ducks, growled and glared at Chauncey with a look that made the young man tremble.

The ducks, in the meantime, had apparently forgotten about the dog and had wandered over to Edith Goodrich who was throwing leftover bread on the ground nearby for them. “Thanks for distracting that dog, Chauncey! You’re doing a great job!” Edith shouted.

“You’re welcome, Mrs. Goodrich,” Chauncey said, trying not to make any sudden movements that might escalate his precarious situation.

A group of people soon appeared and Chauncey breathed a sigh of relief, but they didn’t seem to notice what was happening and walked past him on their way to the wooden pier. They stood there, looking at the lake and talking among themselves for a few minutes, then turned and headed back to the street. “Pardon me,” Chauncey said politely, “Would you mind helping me with this dog?”

One member of the group smiled at him and said, “We have this area reserved for our fundraising event this morning. You’re welcome to come, but we’d appreciate it if you left your dog in your car.”

“But it’s not my……” Chauncey’s words trailed off as the group walked away. “It’s not my dog. It’s…..it’s…George Clooney’s dog.”

Just then, one of the women in the group wheeled around and shrieked, “Are you serious? That’s George Clooney’s dog? Is he in town? Oh, my God!”

The whole group was excited by that time and rushed back to Chauncey, ignoring the dog, whose demeanor had magically improved with the arrival of more humans. “Why, yes”, Chauncey went on. “I heard that Mr. Clooney is in town on his yacht and that he’s been desperately looking for his dog because it ran away this morning.”

“I just love George Clooney,” one of the women sighed. “And he has such an awareness of pressing social issues.” The others in the group nodded in agreement.

“So,” Chauncey said, “You know that he’s also a big supporter of….what is your group called?”

“Society for Bluer Lakes,” one of the other women replied.

“Yes, he’s a big proponent of bluer lakes,” Chauncey explained. “I hear he’s quite a contributor. Maybe he would even agree to be your spokesman!”

“That would be awesome!” they all agreed.

So, off the group went with the dog, giving Chauncey an opportunity to walk back to his bike.

The Soupster had come out of the dentist’s office across the street about the same time this was happening and observed the conversation between Chauncey and the group. “Well, young man,” he said, “looks like they just couldn’t see the forest for the trees.”

– Submitted by Mary Ann Jones

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 25, 2011

Our Town – August 25, 2011

| Animals, Dogs, Guest Written, Jennifer Truman, Our Town | August 25, 2011

“Whoa!” Simon exclaimed, tightening his grip on the leash and pulling his border collie Spruce out of the path of a run-away German shepherd.

“Sorry!” the owner of the shepherd called out as he jogged on by, his dog running merrily ahead, dodging in and out of the bike lane, oblivious to the cars rushing past.

Simon shook his head and continued his walk. Around the next turn he ran into his friend Betty, who was walking her chihuahua LuLu.

“Thank you!” Simon immediately said, stopping next to her.

“Well, you’re certainly welcome! … But what for?” she asked with a laugh as their dogs greeted each other.

“For walking your dog on a leash! I can’t believe what a problem it has become in Our Town – it seems like nobody wants to walk their dog on  a leash anymore,” he explained. Betty nodded.

“Oh, I’ve noticed that, too,” Betty agreed. “It’s kind of surprising, really. Not only is it inconsiderate of other people and their pets, it’s so dangerous for the dog! My LuLu is very well trained, but I would never take the risk of her running away from me, running into traffic, or running into another BIGGER dog! I care about her too much.”

“I feel the same way. Also, if your dog is running around loose it’s not always easy to tell where they’ve gone to the bathroom and now you’ve created TWO problems. There is nothing worse than setting out on a nice walk with Spruce only to end it by walking through someone else’s mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after my own dog, but I don’t like cleaning up after other people’s!” Simon pointed out.

Betty shook her head. “If a person can’t stand the idea of their dog being on a leash, then I would suggest they go to the dog park before walking them loose around Our Town. It’s a nice little area and a great way for dogs to socialize with each other – not to mention the owners. That’s where I’m headed right now to meet up with the Soupster and his new friend.”

“Hey, that sounds like a great idea!” Simon nodded. “How about I join the two of you and let LuLu and Spruce play a little more, and maybe seeing a group of dogs having fun SAFELY will inspire other people to stop by.”

“See? A perfect solution for people who don’t like to use a leash to walk their dogs – and ESPECIALLY for people whose dogs seem to like to walk them!” she laughed, pointing down the street. Simon turned around to see the Soupster heading in the direction of the dog park, waving happily at them while being all but dragged off his feet by one energetic Lab – on his leash and looking happy as could be.

– Submitted by Jennifer Truman

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Comments Off on Our Town – September 24, 2009

Our Town – September 24, 2009

| Animals, Dogs, Guest Written, Kathy Ingallinera, Our Town, Pets | September 24, 2009

My old dog, Grizzly, and I round the corner in the park and I spy the Soupster sitting on a bench. I sit beside him as Grizzly sniffs some Cow Parsnip. “Hey, Soupster, you like old dogs or young dogs better?” He reaches over to scratch Grizzly on the head, causing both of them to grin with pleasure, although only Grizzly’s leg starts tapping.

“Well, I like young pups better; so full of energy and doing funny things. They’re a lot of work though, with housebreaking and their constant chewing. What about you?”

“Been awhile since I had a pup. I’ve grown fond of older dogs. They have so much to teach us, if we’re willing to be their students.”

“What do you mean? I’ve heard of taking dogs to obedience school, but never of people being trained by dogs,” the Soupster says.

“Got time to take a stroll around the park with us? Grizzly might teach you a few things I call the ‘P’s’” of senior dogs.”

We walk until Grizzly stops near a totem pole, closes his eyes and lifts his nose into the wind. “The first ‘P’ of older dogs – pleasure. You saw this earlier when you were scratching his head and now as he stops to inhale the smells of the sea. Old dogs take pleasure in small, simple things.”

“Older people do, too,” the Soupster mumbles to himself.

We amble along the level trail for a few more minutes until Grizzly sees a salmonberry bush. “Now you’ll see passion – the second ‘P’.” The Soupster stands back, not sure what to expect. I reach through the picked-over branches and find some plump salmon-colored berries that Grizzly quickly inhales. When the pickings get slim I try to sneak a few ruby-colored ones into his mouth. He spits them right out. “That’s another ‘P’ of older dogs – persnicketyness. Once in a while he’ll eat a red one, but that’s his prerogative.”

Continuing on the trail, I reach in my bag and give Griz a biscuit. A piece of it falls into a hole at the base of a tree, and is partially hidden by the roots. He uses his right front paw to reach in and slowly drag the piece forward until he grabs it with his snout. “That ‘P’ was persistence and Grizzly has it, especially when it comes to food.”

“Tell me about the last ‘P’s’ so I can get back to work.”

“Well, then you should stay with us a little longer. Grizzly could teach you about patience like he has taught me. I walk slowly, glad for every minute he is by my side. There’s one more ‘P’ too – that’s peace. That’s what we share each evening when I give him a kiss goodnight and he returns it.”

The Soupster is deep in thought. He says, “You know, the dogs in our town have it lucky. We live in a beautiful place where we have time for slow walks and good smells and peace.”

“Yes – and plenty of salmonberries!”

– Submitted by Kathy Ingallinera, in memory of Grizzly, who died 9/1/09 under a salmonberry bush

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 26, 2009

Our Town – February 26, 2009

| Animals, Cats, Dogs, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships, Trucks | February 26, 2009

Originally published July 25, 2002

The dog, a dark brown Labrador retriever, looked as dignified as any dog ever has while sitting in the driver’s seat of a car and the Soupster said so out loud.

“Thanks,” the dog called half-absently, resting its paws on the sheepskin covered steering wheel of the blue and grey pickup truck parked outside a key Our Town place for sandwiches and drinks.

The Soupster ambled over to the truck cab’s open window. “You talk?”

“I’m supposed to listen, right?” said the dog. “I hear that all day from your kind.”

“You drive, too?” the Soupster asked.

“You think the truck would have a better chance of parking by itself than I have of handling a 3/4 ton vehicle,” the dog sneered. “Tell me you don’t think that.”

“You probably hear this a lot,” the still-stunned Soupster sputtered, “but I can’t believe I’m talking to a dog.”

“Go ahead,” said the dog. “Ask me.”

“Ask you what?” said the Soupster.

“If a police officer pulled me over, which license would I give him?” the dog said. “That’s what you were going to ask, right?”

The Soupster’s cheeks turned bright red. “Actually, I was thinking about what kinds of music you listen to when you drive.”

“`Bark, the Herald Angels Sing’ and “Oh, Dem Bones’” said the dog, curling its lips to approximate a smile. “And my favorite movies are `Riding In Cars With Dogs” and “10 Things I Smell About You.”

“Do you…?” started the Soupster, but the dog cut him off.

“Yes, I stick my head out the window when I drive, to answer your question,” the dog said. “And, yes, I – like all dogs – will get mad if you blow on my nose. Why do dogs like one and not the other? I don’t know. We just do.”

The Soupster stared at the dog, absolutely speechless.

“I used to run with a sled team out of Skwentna,” the dog continued. “Then I decided I should get behind the wheel, instead of me being the wheels.”

“Regrets?” the Soupster asked.

“ For a while, I had this recurring dream of scaring a bunch of cats in the crosswalk. Make ‘em scatter good,” said the dog, again approximating a smile. “If I do that now I’ll lose both my licenses! Oh, here’s my wife.” The dog started the engine.

The dog’s wife, a cat, carried a foot-long sandwich in her mouth.

The dog scrunched up his nose. “Oh, no,” he said. “She got tuna again! Tuna and mayonnaise and no veggies. I like veggies. She really doesn’t know the meaning of `to share.’”

“If you hate cats so much, why did you marry one?” said the Soupster as the cat slipped in the truck cab on the other side with the sandwich.

“I’m a patient creature,” said the dog, dropping the truck into reverse and backing away from the Soupster with a comradely, if unseen, swipe of his tail.

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 12, 2009

Our Town – February 12, 2009

| Animals, Dogs, Our Town, Trucks | February 12, 2009

Great big men holding tiny little dogs seemed more common in Our Town, the Soupster mused as he encountered his friend Arlen with his dog outside the restaurant. Max, the miniature mutt in question, lifted his wee head and bared his tiny teeth as though the Soupster was treading on controversial territory just by looking at him. The dog emitted a growl, barely audible.

“Maximus!” Arlen scolded, “Stop growling at the Soupster like that. We like the Soupster. The Soupster is our friend.” Holding his dog closer, Arlen stopped strolling out to his parked pickup.

Maximus quit barking and pretended to relax in Arlen’s arms, but when the Soupster came within striking range the little dog leaped — a five-pound ball of fury that lit into the Soupster’s cuffs.

“Maximus,” Arlen sighed, a little too languidly for the Soupster’s taste. “Let go of the Soupster’s pants.” The big man reached down and retrieved his dog. The Soupster heard cloth ripping and a cold wind against his left shin.

Arlen walked over to his parked truck and put Maximus inside. “Sorry, Soupster,” Arlen said. “I don’t know what got into Max today. I think I may have over-trained him.”

“Overtrained him!”

“We worked on his tricks all morning,” said Arlen. “Today, I was teaching him to open and close the locks in the truck.”

“Why ever would you do that?” asked the Soupster.

“In case I ever locked myself out of the truck, Soupster,” said Arlen. “And say I locked Maximus in the truck with the keys in the ignition – that would be no problem.”

“That happen a lot?” asked the Soupster.

“Not yet, thank goodness,” said Arlen.

The two men heard the distinctive “clicks” of two pickup truck door locks snapping into place. Maximus stood with his front too legs pushed against the truck window, looking proud.

“Now he went and locked it,” said Arlen. “My keys are in the ignition. You better light out, Soupster. I want Maxie in a good mood so I can get him to open the doors. He’s not as good at unlocking.”

“But before I go,” said the Soupster. “tell me how Maximus got his name.”

“He’s named for Russell Crowe in Gladiator,” said Arlen. “You know, the movie about the Roman general who was supposed to be Emperor but saved the Republic instead and was an enormous hero.”

“Has the dog ever seen Gladiator?” the Soupster asked.

“Me and Maxie watch it together all the time,” said Arlen. “How did you know?”

“I was just thinking that might be the case.” said the Soupster, who made hay even though the sun didn’t shine and escaped. “Good luck with those locks!”

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What is Our Town?

Our Town is a bi-weekly column that tracks the life of the Soupster and his friends and neighbors.

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

The first Our Town was published December 22, 1999.

Read Our Towns published before February 2009 HERE.

Who is the Soupster?

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

Want to submit a piece for Our Town?

Contact us with your idea or completed piece. Our Town’s must be 450-500 words long, take place in or near Sitka and the Soupster must make an appearance, however brief.

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