After finishing the Peace Corp, my brother dropped out of corporate America and became an organic fruit farmer in Washington state. Remember the Hippies and the Yippies? That’s not him.
After spending 24 hours in a car and driving the height of our country, the organic plantation owner showed up at my door around 9 p.m.
The dogs went nuts. My dog, Carol Baskins, and my son’s dog, Susan B. Anthony are about 12 pounds each and stacked on top of each other won’t quite reach my knee. But they bark like a little street gang of high-pitched pitt bulls.
Sugar Mama and I could only laugh and egged the dogs on. Their harmless howls were funny to us. Telling two tiny dogs to attack and acting like they are “saving our lives” seemed like the best kind of hyperbole. Funny at first to the fruit farmer too.
But in a moment, his laughter was over. “Would you shut the fuck up,” he yelled in the dogs’ faces and locked himself in the bathroom waiting for the dogs to obey.
We were not done.
“Stop being such a little baby, those dogs are not going to hurt you.”
After a few minutes, they shut up and moved to neutral corners. The farmer slinked out of the bathroom and into the quiet only to be “re-attacked.”
Ok, now the laughter was over for everyone. Probably not fun to drive two days straight and come into this din. But the dogs would not stop. We begged, we yelled, we held them in our laps. The dogs barked. The sound echoing off the new tile on the floor and the hard walls and high up in the vaulted ceiling. It sounded like a bad day at the pound.
They would only stop if given a treat or when the fruit farmer left the room.
The next morning, Susan B. Anthony went home to the Boy’s family. Like Jesus in the desert with the devil, for 3 days and 3 nights, it was just killer Carol and the farmer. (Yeah, yeah, Jesus did 40 days and 40 nights, but only god gets that kind of vacation time.)
Every time the farmer came into the living room, she barked and hit that embarrassing high-pitch howl that only tiny dogs can take seriously. The fur on her spine spiked in a solid black stripe like she was going to start a prison fight.
Every time the farmer got that schadenfreude look on his face — he was taking pleasure in my stupidity or laziness (or both) and that a grown-ass man could not control a 12-pound hound.
“You know, I wouldn’t let my 80-pounds dogs get away with this,” he said in that fake, matter-of-fact way that gets his point across without pissing people off. He knew I had railed for years against small dogs. He knew I was often embarrassed by the size of this dog too.
If I picked up Carol, she immediately went quiet. I could even hand her to him and she would settle into the farmer’s lap.
But the second he got up, so did her fur and the noise.
“You are not very smart are you,” he told my little dog right to her tiny, furry face. She barked some more.
Sugar Mama and I were aghast. She has been the smartest dog we have ever had. She knows when it is bedtime, when it is mealtime and when it is time for her to take a walk. She can even pick out the right toy by name and bring it to you. Ok that’s part is kind of like a psychic — she gets it right if you give her enough chances (and she really feels like it). Confirmation bias ensures we only remember the right attempts.
“Your other dogs were Golden Retrievers, right?”
Yes. Goldens are pretty and people friendly; but they are dumb. Our last one ran into a moving car. Lived another 12 years, but despite the car paint that stuck to her teeth, for that entire 12 years she would still bolt across the street without looking if she saw someone on the other side who might pet her or feed her. If they had Darwin Awards for dogs, I’d be famous.
“I’m sorry,” the farmer said. “It’s impossible for this dog to be smart. Look at that tiny, tiny little head. How big can the brain be that would fit in that skull?
“Her brain can’t be any bigger than an almond.”
Fuck you brother, I don’t need you changing my reality with your logic and facts. Besides, you could probably squeeze a small walnut in there…
Just as we closed this little argument, for no apparent reason, Carol came through with another round of dog-lite sounds and ended with what can only be described as 10-seconds of a baby crying.
“Face it Kieran. You have a Yippie little dog.”
Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttt. I hate it when my little brother is right.
Categories: Carol Baskins