“Did you leave the TV on?” my wife asked.
I did not.
We were driving home late at night and there at the bottom of our hill, an eerie digital glow flickering ominously through our living room window.
“I hope no one broke in and took something,” she said.
“I hope no one broke in and left something,” I said.
We both looked at each other.
Chester is my buddy Stan’s psychotic Pomeranian. The little dog looks like an explosion in a hair salon and has a ferocity unmatched by all Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
It is why no one will dog sit him.
So when Stan is called away on one of his frequent business trips, he simply drops Chester off with whoever is not at home. He prefers us because we have satellite TV. For as vicious as the little guy is, there is one thing that soothes his savage soul, the Home Shopping Network (HSN).
He worships the channel.
The little guy will on his haunches for days on end, utterly mesmerized by the bling and totally enthralled by the nice people who hawk it. For Chester, HSN is the best of all possible worlds, a place where everyone is pleasant and everything sparkles. But when he doesn’t get his HSN fix, things do not go well.
The last time Stan dropped him off, a summer storm interfered with our satellite signal and Chester became a whirling dervish of destruction. He shredded a throw rug, gutted an armchair and chewed the legs off the dining room table just to demonstrate his displeasure.
Another time, I made the mistake of turning to PBS to watch NEWSHOUR and a few days later, a Cease and Desist letter came from an attorney at our public television station. I do not know what Chester did to them but I am sure that I don’t want to know.
So let’s just say the little guy has issues and our challenge for the immediate future was to simply survive until Stan returned to take him home.
But fortunately, we found Chester laying quietly with his head resting on his paws, focused intently on a simulated morganite pendant dangling seductively from a nice presenter’s hand.
“Oh look,” my wife murmured as she drifted hypnotically toward the television, “it retails for $120 but is marked down to $24.99.”
Just as I was about to warn her against getting sucked in…
Ar…ar…aroooooo, yip, yip, yip, yip…..
That would be coyotes.
Our region is lousy with them. The nasty critters run in large packs and have an insatiable appetite for veal. Whenever my neighbor’s cattle drop a calf, they show up.
Yip, yip, yip, yip…..
That would the sound they make as they close in for the kill.
And that would be Maud.
Maud is a guard donkey. Most people are familiar with the guard dogs who protect livestock but farmers around here have discovered donkeys are so much better at it.
No one is quite sure what it is about a coyote that launches a donkey into a fit of blind rage but whatever it is, it is a close cousin to what happens to Chester when he does not get his fix of The Home Shopping Network.
Thud.. thud.. thud..
Thud.. thud.. thud..
That would be the sound of Maud stomping some woe-begotten coyote into the turf.
Let’s just say that when a donkey gets done with this exercise there is not much left of a coyote beyond a smear on the grass and a few scraps of fur and bone.
Chester’s ears perked up. He scampered to the window.
Have you ever seen how a cartoon character fall in love? There are these little heart-shaped balloons that appear over their heads and swirl about in crazy eddies of love. Like this
That is what happened to Chester.
Chester became instantly and utterly smitten by Maud.
He bolted through the screen window, bobbed across the road and arced gracefully over my neighbor’s barbed wire fence. I have never seen such joy as the little guy bounded across the pasture to the side of his heart’s desire.
He came flying back from whinst he came.
Maud did not just hate coyotes. She hated canines in general – and as small and absurd as Chester was, he was still unfortunately a canine. The poor Pomeranian was beside himself because what he loved, did not love him.
He tried plucking ditch lilies for her.
He tried bringing her doggie treats.
He tried serenading her.
WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!
Nothing worked and as the days progressed, Chester grew increasingly despondent. He no longer yearned for HSN. He no longer raged at the news. He no longer destroyed furniture. He fell into such a deep state of despair that he no longer loved to hate things.
I had to do something, so I consulted an expert.
“What does a guy have to do to win the heart of his love?” I asked my wife.
“So,” she said, “after twenty years of marriage you finally get around to asking.”
I had to confess that this was not about us, “It’s about Chester. How can the little guy win Maud’s heart?”
She sighed a deep sigh and shook her head.
“What do donkeys want?” she asked.
“Think Winni the Pooh,” she said.
And sure enough, just like Eeyore, Maud absolutely loved thistles. She had long since gobbled up every thistle in her pasture and now could only gaze longingly at the patches of thistles that sprouted up and down our ditches.
I cut one and gingerly handed it across the fence. Maud rushed to the wire and just like that Chester got the idea. He plucked a thistle and thrust it through the fence to Maud. It is all it took, a swarm of love balloon appeared over Maud’s head, , and she fell instantly head over hooves in love with Chester.
The sharp thorns of the first thistle lacerated Chester’s gums. The second punctured his tongue and the third stuck to the roof of his mouth. Chester hated that.
He threw a fit.
To his dismay, Chester discovered he hated thistles more than he loved Maud – and that was the end of that – but therein is a lesson for us all.
Lately it seems so many of us, egged on by social media, have been flying into hyperbolic fits of rage over the most insignificant of things and it is costing us dearly, because sometimes, just sometimes – it is best to put up with a few thistles to hang onto the things we love.
Here is a photo I snapped of Maud. Isn’t she lovely?