…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Friday, March 16, 2007

meet me in el monte

RePete wasn’t the dog we went to see. He was on our list, but pretty far down—maybe seventh—and I honestly didn’t expect to get past number 1. I had constructed a full-figured fantasy around number 1, “Lenny,” in the 24 hours since I had first seen his picture at the Beagles & Buddies Web site.

Lenny, the rescue organization’s site said, is a beagle–Australian shepherd mix, only two of my favorite dog breeds ever! His description also noted that he’s an extremely high-energy dog. And doesn’t it seem that his one blue eye can see right into your soul? He could be my people filter, warning me off the baddies! I had called to ensure that Lenny was still available—he was—and inquire what his adoption donation would be: $150, the bottom end of their scale. What a steal! I shopped him by Sporks and we decided to go meet him over the weekend.

B & B is located in the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte, the kind of town where smoking toddlers in diapers play in the street unsupervised. We were a little queasy about the n’hood when we drove up, but we got over it. After all, we’re not so fancy ourselves, and it’s not like swank types are clamoring for dog rescues to lay chain-link within their city limits. Besides, my little Lenny was in there; we needed to bust him out so that he could come home with us and be my best friend forever.

At the entrance gate we handed over our application, which I had downloaded and filled out before we arrived, and which a rescue volunteer prescreened to ensure our worthiness as potential parents. Good thing it wasn’t one of those born-again Christian rescues. The only Scripture in this joint was the “Caring for Your New Dog” pamphlets furnished by the makers of Pedigree dog food, who, by the way, have the right food for your dog at every stage of his life.

(Speaking of which, the proliferation of pet food varieties must stop, because I’m a notoriously indecisive shopper capable of entering full-blown catatonia when confronted with too many choices. I understand that today’s range of pet nutrition represents a vast improvement over olden times, when we fed our cats Purina Cat Chow and our dogs Purina Dog Chow. But under the Hill’s Science Diet brand alone, 34 different varieties of dog food are sold, not counting the Prescription Diet line, under the banner of which 39 additional products are offered, including a potato and venison formula, because dogs love them some taters and deer, and—I shit you not—an anorexia-recovery formula. Maybe dogs are hunger-striking because we’re feeding them POTATOES AND VENISON. Seriously, pet food makers, enough with the choices—unless you can come up with a food that makes dogs stop craving cat shit.)

We passed muster and through the gates into a little courtyard area where greeter dogs sniffed us and La Diabla, whom we had brought along for vetting. Lenny was not among the greeter dogs but in the kennels out back. We followed the din of barking and baying until we reached kennel seven, where I saw that solitary soul-seeing eye reflecting the high sun in a moment of halcyon stillness…just before Lenny’s turbulent psyche vomited forth.

This will shock and amaze you, readers, but Lenny turned out to be a very high-energy dog! Like, bowing-out-the-walls-of-his-chain-link-enclosure, on-crack high-energy. That furtive glance at his single blue eye set off his crazy bell and he barked me into the next kennel.

But maybe he was just nervous on first meeting. I decided to wander a bit, give him some time to realize I’m the BFF he’s always wanted but dared not dream possible. In the meantime I’d flirt with some other dogs, maybe make him jealous for my affection.

The first dog to activate my aww reflex was a reserved-looking lemon beagle. As instructed by those who know such things, I took care to introduce myself properly, with relaxed body language, no direct eye contact, and the back of one hand extended ever so casually for sniffing. The little gal approached shyly and sat quietly on the other side of the fence, wagging her tail. So far, so good. I inched my hand a bit closer, whereupon she lunged, gave it a quick nip, and ran away, barking ferociously to alert the others that something wicked their way came.

Put off the lemon beagle’s scent, I sidestepped back over toward Lenny to give him another shot at recognizing our love match. Results were consistent with initial findings.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you again—don’t you know I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt? Fool me three times, and I’ll call you Chelsea.

As I said, we had jotted down a few other dogs we liked from the Web site, just in case Lenny turned out to be, well, Lenny. But we quickly dispatched the list: Midnight the whippet mix was doing vertical flips in her run; Jake the basset mix didn’t have enough energy to keep La Diabla and her ADHD company; Jolie the coonhound mix, we were told, “just isn’t ready to meet people yet”; and Rosie the beagle, it turned out, had revealed a talent for climbing six-foot fences without breaking a pant.

The last dogs on our list were littermates Pete and RePete the mixed-breed mixes. Pete had been adopted that morning, but his bro RePete was still there.

RePete evokes for me generic dogdom, the sum of all dogs, every breed and no breed at once. I thought I had a dog aesthetic—a visual one—that forbade terribly ordinary-looking earth-tone dogs, but as I got to know RePete, he seemed perfect. He and La Diabla took to each other like Dick and Jane. He was curious, calm, and playful—and kind of beta without being a pushover. And that face, that black-spotted tongue, those soft floppy ears, those winsome eyebrows, and look at the way he sits sidesaddle!

Anyone who reads Sporks’ blog knows that we brought RePete home a couple of weeks ago: I’m a little behind on the blogging front. And since then we’ve been trying to suss out his heritage.

Shepherd, for sure, but certainly bred with smaller sorts—Chihuahua? And there’s that black-spotted tongue, so maybe we can throw some chow in. Sporks suggested shar-pei as a possibility.

Then she said something I’d been quietly thinking myself, that the way his forehead wrinkles and his tail curls is suggestive of the devil breed: basenji, as in “destructo the wonder dog” Carter and her nervous bladder.

Did saying it aloud make it more real? He barks, so how much basenji—“the barkless dog”—could he really have in him? There are some folks, Sporks noted, who breed basenjis and Chihuahuas together: Maybe he has a bahuahua parent?

I like this notion of mashing names together such that every dog, however mixed, has a breed identity. The American Canine Hybrid Club lists dozens of them: the giant schnoodle (giant schnauzer/standard poodle), the dorkie (dachshund/Yorkshire terrier), the bagle hound (basset hound/beagle).

So I have to be ready, when approached at the dog park by fascinated onlookers who want to know all about my beautiful boy, to say, without a hitch, “Oh, yes, he’s a bahuashepchowpei. It’s a rare breed, especially in this earth-tone variety.”

RePete is now “Scout,” which I know may be confusing, that being my blog nick and all. It’s the name I chose for my child, girl or boy—should I ever have one—after I read To Kill a Mockingbird in junior high. It’s so coolly androgynous, with implications of both daring individualism and ethical humanity—the kind of child, or dog, I’d be proud to call my own.

Maybe I should change my name here. But there are a couple of folks who link to me who find it tiresome to type “neurotranscendence”—I can’t say as I blame them—and therefore link to me as “scout,” so changing my blog name to, say, “myrtle” would be confusing to new visitors, whom I don’t want to alienate. (Shout-out to new visitors!) Then again, visitors reading future posts who are unfamiliar with all the fascinating details of my life may think I’m referring to myself in the third person when I mention Scout, which can be not only irritating to readers but embarrassing to me should I write something along the lines of, “Scout’s been eating cat shit again.” Clearly the name problem is not something I’ll resolve in this post.

At any rate, I am completely smitten with my boy. I think about him at work, I can’t wait to see him when I get home, and everything he does further goes to prove that he is—objectively—the sweetest, smartest, cutest dog in the whole wide world. Even his penis is cute!

So, no, Scout isn’t the kind of dog you go to see. He’s the dog who romps into your life when you’re pretty sure you’ve struck out. My best relationships have always found me, and always when I’ve least expected them.


Blogger the only daughter said...

Indeed it is not everyday that a perfect bahuashepchowpei appears in one's path.

Kudos to Scout the dog for recognizing Scout the blogger and someone he should know.

5:34 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

I challenge all readers to say bahuashepchowpei as often as they can. Try to work it into conversation. Like, "this great dog, I know via the internet is a bahuashepchowpei." It should come up a lot.

There's not basenji in there. There can't be.

Oh, and no dog in this house is ever eating deer. Nope. Na-uh. Not gonna happen.

6:18 PM  
Blogger KMae said...

AWWWWWWWWWWWW, sooooo cute!!!
He is gorgeous!!
How old is he, will he get bigger?
Great post, Myrtle! (chortle!)
I love your writing.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Little Blue Petal said...

My daughter Echo comments, "Whomever adopts Lenny will have to rename him Mad-Eye Moody."

Scout-pup sounds wonderful! Glad you found one another!

Myrtle haha! There is a woman in our village named Myrtle. I understand she plays the organ in the church and decorates the GRAVES every Christmas. (seriously!)

7:49 AM  
Blogger Little Blue Petal said...

Oooh you might be interested in this: We feed our dogs raw meat, steamed & raw veggies and bones. (Yeah, I know, gak! to the raw meat.) Their overall vitality and behaviour improved after they had been on that diet for two weeks. Scout-pup might benefit from that sort of diet if he has been eating low-quality donation food at a shelter. Also raw diet is a great deal less expensive than buying tinned-dogmeat and crunchies. Have a look at the 'Wolf Creek Ranch' wolf rescue/animal health website. Lots of great dog nutrition info on there.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Slangred said...

Scout's a winner, be he a dog or she a person.
(A warning, however, that it might be best you not name your daughter Scout should you ever have one, since Demi and Bruce's daughters are named Rumer and Scout. You wouldn't want people to be introduced to your daughter and then look at you and say, "Oh, yeah, like Demi!" would you?)
Hearty congratulations on a lovely pup.

3:13 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

This is the sweetest story ever.

8:07 PM  
Blogger treecup said...

I can't wait to meet him. No doubt he will put our demon dog to shame (it's not hard).

8:36 AM  
Blogger Gunfighter said...

Cute pooches.

2:51 AM  
Blogger MARYELLEN said...

Loven Scout! And since its name comes from To Kill a Mockingbird makes it all the better. He is great.

6:05 PM  
Blogger weese said...

ah..i have been waiting for the dog story.
it may comfort you to know that Sassy has a cat named Sassy - so you are not breaking new ground here
(tho i laughed outloud a the cat shit comment).

1:23 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

That is so sweet!! Sometimes it's when you're not looking that something truly amazing happens/comes along, isn't it? As corny as that saying goes.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous hopskipjump said...

"Meet me in El Monte" - you mean from Frank Zappa's "Uncle Meat" my favorite album ever??

"Good're so handsome!- gimmee a kiss, good boy, what a good boy!...and you are one lucky dog too... "

8:30 AM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

The only thing cuter than that Scout (who somewhat resembles our Pixie, wouldn't you agree?) is you-Scout gushing over dog-Scout.

Um, sorry. Not gushing. Bragging like the bad-ass butch that you are. ;p

5:13 PM  

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