Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

What Would Rat Dog Do?

Christmas barrettes for dogs. PetSmart has several styles and colours, as well as a host of cute costumes.

For dogs.

Rat Dog and I are standing in front of a display of stupid consumerism. I pick up a Santa costume and note that it's made in China. Ever wonder what the Chinese laborers think of the crap they make? To some segments of the Chinese population, dogs are entrées.

Barrette for dog? Like putting dress on chicken.

I cut a look at the Rat Dog. She frowns through her crusty beard. Don't even think about it.

Meanwhile, a young woman in low-rise jeans and a scoop front knit top walks over. She's carrying a little tan Chihuahua dog. Apparently small dogs are now a fashion accessory. I scoop up Rat Dog and head for the dog food isle aisle. The Rat goes stiff as a board.

Nuh-uh. You're not Paris Hilton and I'm not a prop. Put me down!

Back on the floor she goes. We fill the cart with meals for her and The Greyhound. The Greyhound doesn't go to PetSmart because he's afraid of the shiny floor. The Rat Dog fears nothing except soap and water.

We make it through the checkout where I actually remember my pin number for the debit card. I have dyscalculia and forget the number every other time.

It's a nice sunny day and I'm feeling spiffy because I'm wearing my new black turtleneck top and clean jeans. The Rat Dog and I march toward the car.

My euphoria bubble is burst by an old woman who flags me down. She's standing by the handicap parking. Plastic tubing from an oxygen tank snakes around her face. The oxygen tank sits in an otherwise empty shopping cart. One hand clutches the handle on a retractable leash and the other end is attached to a mop dog. Moppy has wandered several feet away to sniff a stunted tree in the median. Grandma's face is round, friendly and full of hope.

"Can you tell me how to get to Del Norte?"

Eh? I look around, thinking she can't be asking me.

I can't give directions to save my life. Hold a gun to my head and demand directions to Wal-Mart. My answer would be, "If the first shot doesn't kill me, shoot again. None of this Terry Schiavo feeding tube bullshit, 'K?"

I'm poised to run like hell. The Rat Dog, my furry conscience, stands fast, tail wagging and chirping a greeting at Grandma.

"Uh, erm, if you go down this street..."

"Which street?"

"Um. That one. I don't know its name." Wild hand gestures follow.

After a while, she either gets it or realizes I'm a moron and gives up. She gestures at the cart and says something about helping her "with this."

Double eh?

More hand gestures--bloody hell, it's like the Pilgrims trying to communicate with the Indians at Thanksgiving--and I realize she wants me to put her cart away. About that time, her little mop dog wraps itself around the spindly tree. The elderly shouldn't be allowed to drive or own retractable dog leashes.

"Your dog's tangled," I say.

"Oh." She heads for Moppy and her oxygen tubes tangle with the cart. Moppy rushes back to her, spots Rat Dog and darts around the other side of the cart. Oblivious of the chaos, Moppy and Rat Dog do the butt-sniff thing.

Grandma is now attached to her cart via Moppy's lead and the plastic tubing: she looks like a fly caught in a thick web.

At this point, someone might think I was calm and collected. Truth: My brain, like Elvis, has left the building.

I watch her flail for a minute before I haul the brain back from a beach in Hawaii. I reload all the software, get systems online and pick up the oxygen tank, which fortunately, is light. I hand her the tank and bend down to Moppy.

I'm leery of mop dogs, since most would just as soon bite your nose off than be pleasant. "Cutesy, whootsey, widdle doggie woggie," I say in baby voice.

Rat Dog glares. You never talk to me like that.

Moppy doesn't take my face off and I get him back to Grandma. I get the cart away from her, quick. "Have a nice day."

See. That wasn't so difficult, the Rat Dog seems to say, tail curled over her back, marching over the asphalt in a jaunty stride.

"Last time I'm taking you shopping," I answer.

I load the dog food and dog in the car. Driving away, I keep a careful eye out for Grandma.

The two of us on the same roadway would be a disaster.

Have a mah-velous Sunday.


Graphics and Content Copyright © Patricia Kirby 2005