Sunday 23 Oct 2016

What Light Breaks
AJ Robinson

Yes, I know, it's a quote from Shakespeare. Do you recall the words that come right before that? They are but soft and they are not appropriate to this story! I mention the quote because it is a reference to Juliet, and she's the subject of this story - Juliet, our dog. I say that the two first words are inappropriate with good reason: Juliet is anything but soft!

When dear Shakespeare left us, we decided to get another dog, and thus we went to the humane society and picked out a two-year-old mutt - who clearly had a touched of Irish setter in her - for our new dog. Our remaining dog (Romeo) was now the old man of the house, and while he enjoyed the company, it was clear that he saw Juliet as an energetic and annoying child.

We quickly learned just how annoying she could be. In all the years that we had Shakespeare and Romeo, we never had to deal with them slipping out of our fenced backyard. With Juliet, she quickly earned the nickname Houdini, as she seemed incredibly adept at disappearing from the backyard, and then magically appearing out in the front. That was the truly funny thing about her - she never truly ran away; the minute she got out, she'd come pawing at the front door. The only time she gave us trouble was when we'd try to chase her - then she'd bolt. Ah, but I learned how to trick her; I'd wait for her to look away (she was easily distracted) and then move closer to her. As soon as she turned to look at me, I'd freeze. Once I got close enough, I'd wait for her to see me, and then run away from her.

That was all it took. Like a blast of thunder, she was after me, and I led her right back to our front door.

She was also a digger, although she usually never dug her way out of the yard. No, instead she just dug and dug - and dug; it wasn't long before the yard looked like trench warfare out of World War I! She loved to take her treats out in the yard and leave them in a hole. She wouldn't bury them; just set them in a hole. While she loved bones and other doggie treats, she also loved fruit - apple cores and bananas especially. I've never known a dog who loved fruit; so Juliet is definitely confirming she was unique.

Then there was her theft. This girl stole anything and everything she could get her paws on. She snagged my wife's purse; fortunately, she didn't clean it out, a Christmas gift for our friend Betsy, a tub of butter, which she did eat. Oh well, it'll give her a nice soft coat, shirts, coats, nightgowns boxes of tissues, and so on. It got to the point where we simply looked out the kitchen window every morning to see what new things she'd hauled off, and my wife started keeping track of them on the kitchen blackboard.

It is now quite the ponderous list!

The kicker was when she snagged my latest birthday gift, a four-pound rectangular box of Twizzlers. How she managed to get her mouth around the box and get it through the doggie door, we will never know. Fortunately, she didn't eat them or even get the box open.

It took a while, but we finally covered all the holes that she was slipping through the backyard fence, and learned not to leave things where she could reach them. It's actually quite hard to stay mad at the little devil, she, blessed lovable!

Even the local squirrels have gotten into the act; they torment her by running back and forth across the power lines that run over the backyard. As for Juliet, she races back and forth under them, and doesn't keep an eye out for where she's going - she tends to run right into the fence or our shed, at full speed. Romeo also plays with her, but he's getting older now. What is truly hilarious is to see her play with Harley, Betsy's dog, who's about the same age as her. The two run about and romp about the yard, and Romeo stands off to the side and barks at them. It's as he's the old man telling the kids to settle down.

It looks as if she's going to be quite the handful; yet she is so loving and caring that we can't help but want to keep her around. I get the feeling she's going to be the source of many stories in the coming years.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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