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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 – 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 – March 27, 2014

Our Town – March 27, 2014

| Animals, Our Town, Pets, Small Town Stuff | March 27, 2014

The Soupster asks if there is ever anything new.

“Always the same, this town,” the Soupster muttered, reading the newspaper. “Always arguing over the same things. Paving the same roads, painting the same walls. The same people day after day. Can’t anything be surprising?”

With decades of residency under his belt, the Soupster didn’t entertain illusions about Our Town’s complexion being blemish-free. But what great lover is put off by a few zits? While he might moan in private, publicly the Soupster deflected criticism from outsiders like any loyal lover of a place (or person).

But today the Soupster was bored and instead of taking ownership of his boredom, he decided to blame Our Town. “Same, same,” he moaned. “Same, same, same.”

Fresh air sounded good, the Soupster thought. “Shake off my cobwebs.” This being herring season — hence, herring weather — the Soupster dressed in layers in case the present spectacular sunshine turned instantly to pounding hail.

Out the door down the road to the park went the Soupster, looking over the same sites he’d spied for years. He greeted a familiar face. He turned onto a trail he knew as well as the big vein on the back of his left hand.

While the herring spawn along the ocean’s edge was a mere fraction of that 20 or 30 years ago, the air still reeked with a salty, springy maritime smell. “Uncle Milt,” thought the Soupster. It was too early for new shoots, but the ground felt softer – ready to do something very soon.

A man leading a small black-and-white dog on a leather leash turned the corner of the trail. A strange dog – small and prowling like a cat. The closer the Soupster got, the stranger the dog looked – especially the prowling.

The small dog on a leash turned out to be a rather large cat on a leash.

“I trained him as a kitten,” the man said as he went past. “Now he loves it!”

“That,” said the somewhat delighted Soupster, waving, “is new to me. Yup, tomcat-on-a-leash is a new one for me.”

The sound of wheels turned the Soupster’s attention to a woman pushing a high-tech stroller. The stroller contained an extremely hairy baby. The closer the stroller approached, the hairier the child looked.

With relief, the Soupster realized the hairy baby was a dog.

“She hurt her leg playing Frisbee and she really misses her walk,” the woman said to the Soupster’s puzzled expression.

“Thank you,” said the Soupster.

“For what?” she asked.

“I was thinking everything in Our Town was `same, same, same,’” said the Soupster, more to himself. “I stand corrected.”

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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

1166 total views, 0 today

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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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