GUEST COLUMN: Going to the dogs

By CHRIS CURTIN, guest columnist

We all need someone to love. Someone to love us back unconditionally. Someone who looks up to us. Someone who believes in us. Someone, in whose eyes, we can do no wrong.

This unconditional love makes us feel safe and secure; helps us to maintain our emotional stability; and can bring us peace, satisfaction and relief — a safe harbor for each of us to protect us from the choppy seas of life.

Yes, I’m talking about the unconditional love shared between you and your dog.

You just don’t get caught. There are laws against that sort of thing.

No, seriously, like most people, I have had relationships with dogs throughout my life, for better or for worse.

Your dog is always excited to see you, no matter what boneheaded mistake you have just made or how big a fool you have made of yourself.

Your dog doesn’t care how you look or what you are wearing today.

Your dog is always eager to be with you. He will never criticize or reprimand you.

Your dog will stand by you in good times and bad with complete devotion and unquestioning loyalty — or lie next to you and lick himself. Either way, you know he’s always on your side, which is more than you can say about family.

Dogs all have personalities. One of my sons had a dog, Kobe, that was half Rottweiler. We don’t know what the other half was, but are reasonably certain it was spawned by Satan.

When we got Kobe, he was just a puppy. We tried feeding him regular dog food. He would eat it if there was nothing else, but he preferred porch furniture.

In a week or so, Kobe had eaten all the seat cushions. All that remained were little bits of stuffing spread out around the yard.

With no more seat cushions to eat, he began eating the sturdy, wooden frames of the chairs.

Once in a while, for variety, Kobe would pull down the clothesline and begin fighting, dismembering and eating everything on it. He seemed to prefer articles of clothing. Towels and sheets and such, he would rather drag around the yard, waving them in the breeze like a victory flag, celebrating after defeating the laundry in an important battle.

It eventually dawned on Kobe that his people became quite upset when he devoured the laundry. We also ran out of edible porch furniture — my wife had replaced it with a metal table and chair set.

We kept what was left of a couple of wooden chairs so Kobe wouldn’t have to go cold turkey.

As he matured, Kobe switched to a diet of squirrels, chipmunks, lizards, opossums, rabbits and raccoons. Kobe became quite a good hunter. He was very proud of his ability. We knew this, because he left all the dead bodies at the front door of our home. When you left the house, you had to step over all the corpses and body parts that he didn’t eat.

It did no good to throw them out or bury the remains. Kobe just dug them up and redeposited the lifeless carcasses back on the porch.

One time I noticed a horrible smell near the house. I tracked it down and found a partially decomposed Tom turkey under the porch deck, near the front door. It looked as if Kobe had tried to eat the bird, but gave up because the feathers were too thick.

With a rake, I tried to pull it out where I could reach it so I could bury it. The dog grabbed the rake in his teeth and fought me as if the old, smelly turkey was a fresh, T-bone steak.

I finally managed to drag the turkey 100 yards into the woods. I buried it about 3 feet deep and tried to make it clear to the dog that if he dug it up, I would bury him with the turkey the next time.

But then I would have to tell my children, “Gosh, I don’t know, kids; your dog went off into the woods this morning and I haven’t seen him since.” This would have been very difficult for me, as I, like most men, am honest to a fault and unaccustomed to lying, unlike some sexes I won’t name here, as men also possess an extraordinary amount of tact and consideration for others. Bucketloads.

I realize that there might be some members of that sex, that upon reading these words of wisdom, might suffer an episode of deja-moo: the feeling that they’ve heard this bull before.

One of my sons was home from college for a weekend visit. He brought along his new, small dog, Jack. As soon as he let Jack out of his little traveling cage, the dog went from zero to 60 MPH in 10 feet, running into trees and anything else in his path.

He would just careen off whatever he happened to run into and keep on going. Jack finally went flying off the 6-foot-high creek bank and sailed through the air before splashing down in a pool of water 15 feet away.

I believe that the dog is on methamphetamine, probably from eating Chinese dog food — almost surely a Communist plot to get our dogs addicted and turn them against us.

Of course, it’s not always a bed of roses with dogs. We have all had run-ins with dogs gone wrong.

The summer I graduated from high school with honors — or no felonies at least — I worked reading meters for a utility company. In those days, many of the meters were inside the houses, usually in the basement. You did not wait for someone to answer the door, but simply banged on in and entered, simultaneously hollering out, “meter man!” and went directly to where the meter was, recorded the numbers in your book and got out immediately.

Once in a while, a dog would lunge at you, growling. Most dogs you could make friends with. If that didn’t work, you fending off the persistent animal as best as you could. It was rarely a problem.

But one day, a Dachshund, amid a flurry of threatening barks and growls, grabbed my pant leg with his teeth and would not let go. I shook my leg and shooed him several times, but could not shake him loose.

Finally, I shook my leg hard. The woman of the house walked into the room just as her beloved dog was bouncing off the kitchen wall 10 feet away.

The dog got quiet. The woman’s jaw dropped open. I broke the silence first as I quickly tried to explain that I did not kick her dog, but simply shook him off.

She gave me two seconds to explain this as she stood there slack-jawed, before she started screaming at me and making more noise than the dog did. At this point, I took the manly way out. I put my tail between my legs and got out of that house as fast as I could.

Women, as a rule, aren’t very good listeners; get carried away easily by their emotions; and have a tendency to overreact, fly off the handle and make a big deal out of nothing.

Another dog-related, life-altering event occurred while I was running years ago. Yes, I was the victim of a vicious attack! After he bit my leg, while I was trying to beat off the dog, the dog’s owner burst out of the front door wearing nothing but a nightgown flapping in the breeze behind her as she fired a pistol of some sort and screamed, I think at the dog.

I was relieved once it became clear that she wasn’t trying to shoot me.

When the distraught woman got the dog under control, she changed her clothes and took me to the doctor.

When the doctor saw the extent of the injury to the limb, he said, “It’s good you came in when you did; I think we can still save the leg!”

I am not exaggerating here.

After the bleeding finally stopped and my vital signs were normal, in an intense medical procedure lasting at least three or four minutes, the doctor managed to reattach the limb. It took five stitches!

I ran into the doctor on the street recently and he said that with continued, extensive therapy, he believed that I would be able to walk like a normal person someday.

But you can’t erase the emotional scars. I am still suffering from PDSD: Post-Dogmatic Stress Disorder. I still wake up screaming some nights after another horrifying nightmare where I see, once more, that woman with a crazed look on her face, flying out of her front door in her nightgown, wildly firing a pistol into the air.

Chris Curtin is a longtime Brown County resident. He can be reached through the newspaper at