Thursday, August 25, 2005

This Dog Don't Hunt

Riley, our 8-month-old Goldie, lives a charmed life, as it turns out.

He is a mammoth mutt. A golden-hair retriever whose ears look like they have been styled with a crimper whenever he goes swimming. His paws are wooly-mammoth big, and when he runs, his hind legs lag, pulling his rump off to the side. This makes him look like a ladder truck heading for a fire.

We went camping this summer, and he slept in the tent with my wife and I. Every night, he would circle our air mattress twice, then flop down between us, but at a queer angle: his rump landing on my chest, while his front end rested solidly at my wife's head. He really needs to fix that alignment.

On one night, I had to leave our tent to relieve my bladder, which involves a trip to an outhouse some 50 yards up a hill, in the dark, at the end of a bramble and root-rutted path. Riley, never one to miss any part of the action, popped up and expected me to take him with me. I whispered a hoarse No. Sit. Stay. Heal. Go. Stop it. Let go of my arm, you hairy freak until he relented and sauntered into the tent and over to the window. I struggled up the path, every so often flashing the light back to that little window, and his beady little canine pupils reflected the light, Cujo-like.

On coming back, I feared he would start yelping. I was sure his guard-dog instinct would erupt in him, and that he would start pouncing my wife's back in an attempt to alert her to THE STRANGER ON THE PATH. This is what loyal dogs do for their families: they bark obscenities at angry bears while the family can escape; they catch white-shirted Bible-thumpers in mid sentence and rush them off your lawn. ("Good morning, have you found...JESUS!")

Yeah, right. Riley didn't so much as fart when I entered the tent. I could have been carrying a machete. I could have been growling. All he did was try to muscle his way out of the tent as I opened the zipper to get in, cursing him in hushed camp-sized tones Git. Knock it off. Don't lick me there. Rest. Go. Stop it. Break this tent and I'll break your arms.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Harrison Turner is not Two Towns in Maine

Harrison Scott enters his third soccer season this week with the joining of the Oxford Hills Soccer Club's 11-and-under travel squad. He's been asked to play the stopper or "sweeper" position, what 30-somethings like his father call "Center Fullback."

He's pictured here playing left halfback in last year's action.

The diminutive 6th-grader is easily underestimated by his taller opponents, who, after games this winter in the indoor league, were frequently heard telling their respective coaches "Don't put me on the left side, I can't get past the little blonde dude."

His parents, meanwhile, have used his name to their advantage. Calling from the sidelines "Go Harrison!" has lulled many coaches into the false impression that they have been pitted against a team from Harrison, Maine - a perrennial breeding ground for top-caliber soccer players.

However, once the coaches have adjusted to that knowledge, Harrison's parents cruelly shout "Way to go Turner!", thereby confusing coaches even further. Many have been seen weeping after games.

Harrison's team plays its first game, this Sunday, August 28, in Cumberland.