Well, I should be writing about serious matters like how to get my deceased Dad in the Afterlife to write me a small cheque, which he has done in the past, even from the Afterlife, honest, it’s true. Five Hundred Dollars, no less. After that I thought I was onto something better than the lottery, so I asked him for another five, but nothing happened. I guessed he knew I really needed the first five and didn’t see himself as the 649 or Lottomax. They say parents never stop handing money out to their kids, but I had not realized there were possibilities even after death. Anyway, that’s another story. And if you want to know how to get money out of your parents in the Afterlife, I’m afraid that info is gonna costya. No, not really.
I’m having the worst couple of days. It started about ten days ago when I forgot something no sensible person would ever forget.
Last year at some point, because I was short on my budget, I bought the cheapest brand of dry food in the grocery store for my beautiful big black lab/shepherd cross, Rainbow.
Now when I am in good financial shape, he gets only the best…from the vet, no less. $80 a bag. Nothing too good for my Rainbow dog. But now and then things get tight.
I thought, hey, it’s only for ten days, what can go wrong? Onto the shopping cart went a medium sized bag of HappyDog dry food. Only fifteen bucks a bag.
About eight days later, as I was getting organized for our morning walkies, the nightmare struck. There was my beautiful dog with a great big white-skin patch showing on his side.
After a telling off from the vet, who explained that Rainbow was a very sensitive dog with the potential for huge allergy problems, I promised never to do that dumb thing again. Only quality for Rainbow from then on, I swore.
Well, that was over a year ago, and I forgot. Right now I’m saving like crazy to get my cat some super-expensive vet care, and I thought Rainbow could take a back seat to Tigger for a few days. What was the harm? Hey, only ten days or so till payday.
Maybe my brain slipped a notch or two, but somehow I forgot all about last year. So once more, onto the shopping cart went a bag of HappyDog. Some people never learn.
Yesterday I once more got the dog leash, plastic baggies, cell phone, paper towels, house keys, peppermint candies and so on, all together in my pockets and went outside to grab my walk-hungry dog.
There he stood by the gate, tongue happily hanging out, tail wagging, sporting a giant white-skin patch on his side. Just like last year. And to make sure everyone could see it, he had carefully licked a stand-up fur-circle all around it, so it was on full display.
“Look at me,” it said to passersby and drivers galore. “I am an orphan and my owner doesn’t take care of me. I am a wreck. Please call 911 immediately.”
Mortified and hysterical, I rang up my handyman.
“I don’t dare take him to the vet again. She’ll kill me. I promised last year to never do this again. I forgot. Please help me. I need you to make me up a cone. Have you got time this morning to run around and find the stuff and make one up for me?”
He was silent for a bit. Tom is an easy going guy who loves doing handyman work and can do almost anything, but he couldn’t figure out why I wanted him to get ice cream for my dog.
“A cone,” he repeated after me thoughtfully.
“No, I mean, one of those things that you make into a big paper cone and put over their heads, so they can’t get at their fur to pull it out,” I explained.
He said, “Don’t worry about a thing, the whole family will get this sorted. We’ll figure it out together. I’ll call you later.”
In the meantime, I had to take Rainbow for walkies. Being Saturday morning, the roads were busy. Drivers everywhere, and guess which side the big white patch is on. You got it…the road side. As we turned the corner and walked past the big church down the block, the good folk were just exiting, shaking hands with the pastor at the door. Gathering in little groups on the sidewalk, they stood staring in dismay and disgust at this neglectful, uncaring dog-owner walking past with her head ducked down inside a large rain hood, even though there wasn’t a drop of rain in sight.
Some walked over to Rainbow and gave him a sympathetic pat, glaring in my direction at the same time.
“Oh, God,” I muttered, not really meaning to pray.
What could I do to disguise the white patch? Even with a cone on one end, the white patch would continue to glare out the Call 911 message for many, many weeks, as I knew only too well from last year’s fiasco.
If only I could dye the white skin black, or even navy blue…it would almost totally hide my mistake. But what could I use that would not bother his skin? Food dye? Hm.
What colors would work? Do they even make black food dye? I went to the internet and typed in Black Food Dye. Not expecting to get a result. Whoever heard of black food dye?
Well, of course there’s black food dye. How else would we have Hallowe’en cakes for parties? Which reminded me, it’s Hallowe’en, maybe people will think it’s a costume? No. Come on.
I put an online order in immediately, paying sixteen bucks extra to make sure UPS gets it here NOW!
Next morning the ordeal of walkies loomed again. I prayed the black dye would arrive quickly, but in the meantime, what? We walked to the grocery store where I bought three different kinds of blue and multi-color dye packets.
Once I got him into the alleyway behind the store and out of sight, out came the little blue bottle. I wished I had brought rubber gloves, but you can’t wish your life away. Off came the top and I dribbled blue food dye all over the white patch, expecting at least medium success.
Imagine my dismay when I stood back only to find that blue food dye is neon-tinted. His white patch was certainly no longer white, but glowed like a Las Vegas casino with every step he took.
What could I tell people? Frantically I ruffled through my pack-of-lies mental file cabinet. “The Vet gave me this bright blue ointment,” I would say. “Looks awful, doesn’t it? Still, it’s doing him good.”
“Are you sure it isn’t fleas?” one kind friend suggested. “My aunt had a dog once and she didn’t believe in using chemical stuff for fleas. She used to rub garlic powder into her dog’s fur. It didn’t always work too well. He got looking like that once in a while. All mangy and flea-bitten,” my friend suggested helpfully.
I ground my teeth, cursing HappyDog dog food, dogs in general, my own stupid forgetfulness, my friends and also my enemies, which at this moment were hard to tell apart. And also, by the way, the vet.
If the vet didn’t charge so much for fixing my cat’s teeth, I wouldn’t need to save money on dog food to begin with. It was all her fault.
Maybe I could dispense with walkies till the black dye arrived. But that wasn’t good for Rainbow, and none of this was his fault.
When the doorbell rang, I rushed to answer, thinking it was UPS. But no, it was Tom, my trusty handyman with his entire family trailing behind him, all participating. Rainbow had to be rescued from this hysterical woman.
Tom was carrying an ice cream bucket. “When you said ‘cone’, I thought you meant ice cream,” he began to explain. “But after I realized what you really meant, the ice cream thing really helped. I thought an ice cream bucket would be just right.”
He had very cleverly clipped out bits of plastic from the bottom so it would fit perfectly around Rainbow’s furry neck. As Tom gently pushed it neatly into place, the kids gathered around and petted his thick fur, making a great fuss of him. They don’t have a dog, so all dogs get huge attention from these kids.
“Huh,” Rainbow thought to himself. “Go figure. They put a bucket over my head and paint my backside blue and I get all this attention. Maybe it makes me look even cuter. This is good.”
He isn’t the brightest spark in the fireplace but he’s a really nice dog.
Right now he is lying down resting, our house returned to its normal quiet state. One end is neon-bright blue and the other end has an ice cream bucket on it. He seems to be very happy, even proud.
Beauty is all in the eye of the beholder. And, after all, I did name him Rainbow. If he bites off another patch of fur, I might color it yellow. No, not really.