- Ward Cleaver's Prozac Fever

dog day decorating

My dog Parvo, getting into the festive

spirit of Christmas, decided to

decorate our back yard for the holidays.

Not the way you'll

recall Snoopy decorated his

dog house in "A Charlie Brown

Christmas," (an award-winning

initiative as we learn at the end

of the timeless holiday tale),

but in his usual

doggy-sort of way.

He decorated it with crap.

And plenty of it.

But this crap is not your

garden-variety poochie poop.

Traipsing through the fecal snowy

marsh of my yard in faux-Thinsulate

rubber boots, wielding a plastic

bag and a pasta spoon for collection,

I discovered a number of

the insidious (and of course

odoriferous) land mines bespeckled

with a most curious yet highly festive

cranberry red color.

When you're a dadly dad, grown

callous to bodily fluids and funk

thanks to children, you know

the only thing one can do upon

finding a foreign species in

familiar feces is have a closer

scatological look.

Has our dear family pet ingested

a bit of broken glass, and is it

strafing his duodenal lining on

its way back to daylight, slicing

off mucousy membranous bits of

flesh on its circuitous route to


Naw, it ain't blood, I conclude for

myself with the requisite authority of

uninformed rationalization.

Besides, Parvo, our sort-of German

shepherd, was leaping about in his

usual feisty fido ways, turfing the

few remaining patches of grass I'd

cultivated in the wilds of our suburban

postage-stamp parcel, chasing the

tail you'd think he'd have figured out

by now was his own, and scaring our

septuagenarian neighbors into a series

of little debilitating strokes.


I hang the bag-o-crap on a crookedy,

rusted-out nail haphazardly driven by

one of our home's previous owners into

a garage wall stud. We hang it

there because we have concluded through

use of the scientific method that

a hanging bag of dog crap seems to draw

fewer flies in the summertime,

thereby (and Q.E.D) significantly reducing

the volume of maggots spawned on

the odious medium until the thankful

arrival of Garbage Day. Sort of a

maggot mojo. For a delicious vicarious

moment I fantasize slipping the

open end of the bag under my bosses'

closed office door and jumping on

its fetid contents, delivering a putrid

payload a-gooshin' all over her lovely

blueberry Berber.

I leave the crap with the cranberry

hue strewn about, however, as of course

further examination might be necessary.

Besides, my kids have

complained for years that I never

decorate outside the house for Christmas.

The solution to our mystery?

Elementary---er, alimentary, my dear

voyeuristic little friends. Upon

entering our festive abode, I quickly

note the shambles and ruin of the

bottom of our $50 Christmas tree, which,

despite its hefty price tag, was

quickly becoming almost as bald as my own

pathetic pate.

There, THERE was the culprit.

A string of half-eaten cranberry beads,

(in reality nothing more then styrofoam

balls dipped M&M-style in a cranberry-

colored coating, strung shoddily in Malay

sweat shops and sold as Victoriana due

only to Currier and Ives-evoking package

design), lay in various stages of chewed

destruction on the rug, amongst the

malevolent fallen conifer needles,

which themselves lay in insidious

wait, poised to pierce the unsuspecting

flesh of bare human feet.

At least fido had the courtesy to

offload the digested decorations in

the yard. I am sure there are dads

out there who, like me have dealt

with a doggy in gastrointestinal

distress that couldn't quite make

it to the great outdoors.

The picture: five A.M., I dash

down the steps tearing after the

fidgety, flatulent beast and squonch

onto a pungent and loogy mess at the

bottom of the steps. It slowly

squishes up, all warm and smooshy, between

the naked toes. Fresh, indeed.

I halt dead in my tracks and gag

a maggot that no magic garage mojo

bag could possibly fend off, and

holding my befouled foot in both hands

in the pre-dawn light, go off into a

Billy Ray Cyrus-sort-of Achey Breaky

one-legged stomp through the house, my

mind racing with the abhorrent thought

that I may never be wholly clean again.

Of course moms are not immune to these

excremental hijinks. After the

mysterious disappearance of bric-a-brac

from our coffee table, and its even

more mysterious reappearance here and

there in the backyard, my long-

suffering wife came to a swift and

serious conclusion when she misplaced

both her wedding ring and a cherished

ring of the finest head-shop jade.

Doggy done it.

I watched her, my beloved,

my soul mate, dissect our hound's

poopies with a kitchen knife

and fork for days on end, slicing

the loathsome intestinal stogies, chop, chop, chop in a

desperate search for the very

symbol of our betrothal.

My dadly heart ached as my

skin crawled with revulsion for her

heinous mission. After examining

excreta for a week or so, the rings

turned up innocently enough on a

kitchen window sill with not so much as

a trace of awful offal.


Oh, there is much much more to

dadly life with the family dawg,

my friends.

I will leave you to imagine for

yourselves, for example, the outcome

of our dog's clandestine ingestion

of an entire container of Crisco,

nudged with his hungry snout off

a pantry shelf.

These canine horrors plague

your favorite dad even when Spot is

someone else's. Staffing a press

table for Bill Clinton's White House

Conference on Eastern Europe in a

hotel lobby at 4 a.m., a drug-sniffing

secret service dog on a security sweep

past my table dropped a steaming

load on the regally-sculpted runner

just two feet to my left. After twenty

choking minutes and as many frantic

calls to the overnight hotel clean-up

crew, a brave soul picked up after his

government, but only after some

former Soviet Bloc conferees, despite

my warnings, slipped in the stinkies

and tracked it like Ebola throughout

the entire lobby level.

Repulsed, but hoping for a silver lining

(and having learned my lesson at

home), I searched the carpet in vain

for evidence of Hillary Rodham's

jewelry or bric-a-brac. No such luck.

Meantime, the Secret Service guy

with the now-relieved drug-sniffing

dog came whooshing back past we

crap-sniffing humans.

"Uh. Sorry."

I can tell you I felt mighty proud

to be an American at that moment.

But I won't get all wistful on you

today with these repugnant recollections.

It's the holiday, and you can conjure

up your own holiday story or tradition

to make you forget your dadly-ness and

go all ferklempty.

You don't?

Well, it's never too late to start an

endearing, enduring family tradition of

your own.

Take the kids to see the jolly old elf.

Then pile 'em into the Volvo and

cruise the 'hood checking out people's

Christmas lights.

And hey --- when you do,

make sure to stop by your favorite old dad's house.

I've got a backyard display to show you

this year that'll give you and the

kids cranberry-colored holiday memories

you'll surely invoke for

generations to come.

Last "dads"
Past "dads"

2003 Arhythmiacs

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You never talk to your old dad!