The Clarion Sound of the TRUMPet

“Don’t go Trump on me,” Dad said.


“You heard me.”  Yeah, I heard him, but as all too often happens, I had no idea what he was saying.

Perhaps I should backtrack a bit.  Last night, Dad was watching the Republican debate.  Mom asked him why he was wasting his time with a panel of screaming buffoons who offer no substantive benefit to our collective national condition.  Dad replied that this circus, while unalloyed in its stupidity, was of immense entertainment value.  And Donald Trump did not disappoint.  His bombastic, insulting, demeaning, arrogant tripe while starkly short on facts, was admittedly captivating..up to the point when one realizes that a growing number of the electorate are seriously supporting him.  Then, those like Dad began to transition from amused to concerned.  At the end of the debate, Mom asked Dad if he enjoyed watching a racist, misogynist, nativist miscreant spout bile for two hours.  Dad said that it was impolite to refer to me in that manner, and Mom shot him one of her patented looks which caused Dad to humbly apologize to me.  Then Dad explained that he was just as interested in watching Cruz and Rubio and to imagine what the nation would look like as a theocracy where the clock would be turned back on women’s rights.  Mom said, “You already knew this.  You’d be better off watching a mindless basketball game.”  She had a point, but there was something compelling to Dad about watching this bit of Americana..something akin to watching lemmings in the vicinity of a cliff.

So, that brings us back to this morning.  On our walk, as we approached a tree upon which I typically micturate, I noticed that another dog – a mixed breed – had just finished using the same tree for the same purpose.  I turned my nose up at the tree, and sought out another target.  That’s when Dad uttered the Trump comment.  He apparently thought that I was shunning my favorite tree because I perceived that an inferior dog had used it.  The truth is, I simply didn’t want to soil my paws in the puddle at the base of the tree.  After all these years, Dad still didn’t understand dog behavior.  How sad.  But even more sad is that Dad would even dare to deem my behavior comparable to that of a polarizing bigot.

I think he got the message, because he immediately knelt down and told me he was sorry.  “You don’t deserve an insult like that,” he said, “but give me a minute and I’ll think of another which is less demeaning.”  Just when I think he can’t get worse, he always seems to trump himself.



As an Aussie, I am inherently kind, loving, personable, affable and – above all – approachable (oh, and did I mention humble?).  Unlike some breeds who have a wary and suspicious gene which cautions anyone in the vicinity to steer clear, Aussies are welcoming and perhaps a little too trusting.  And so…

As I took my daily stroll through the rear yard yesterday, with all the happy conversations with birds, squirrels, lizards and chipmunks which occasion such meanderings, I came upon a strange looking animal.  It was black with a large white stripe running from head to tail.  He looked friendly, so I said “hi”, but he stood there with an unresponsive stare.  Now, I could have shrugged off his aloof attitude and moved on, but I’m an Aussie.  We take unfriendliness as a challenge, so I persisted.  As I moved closer, obviously invading his space, he turned his back to me and discharged a spray of liquid directly at me.  At first, I thought how nice it was for this fellow to cool me off on a warm morning.  But I quickly realized that this was no ordinary spray.  It was the most odious of all possible odors, and with my acute sense of smell it was simply unbearable.  I quickly rolled in the grass, but that did no good.  I raced to the back door of the house to alert Dad of my predicament.

He came to the door, took one whiff of me and somehow knew what had happened.  He said, “Flap, what have you done?”  I said, “Well, I came upon some foul smelling brew in a barrel, so I just jumped inside.”  He ignored the sarcasm, as usual, and said, “Wait here.”  Uh, yeah, where was I going?  After about 20 minutes, he returned wearing a hazmat suit that he keeps in the garage (don’t even ask).  He looked a little like Darth Vader and was breathing like him too.  He lifted me up and carried me inside to a bathtub which he had prepared while I was waiting.  Apparently, he had always heard that bathing in tomato juice would remove the stench with which I was afflicted.  But the closest thing he had in the house to fulfill this specious ‘cure’ was a case of Bloody Mary mix from Costco.  He unceremoniously dumped me in the tub and proceeded to scrub me down.

It didn’t work.  When he was done, I smelled like a skunk who had a few too many.  I shook off Dad’s cure, spraying the entire bathroom with skunky-mary cocktail, then raced through the house trying to rub the odor off on rugs, sofas, lounge chairs and drapes.  Dad of course chased after me, tripped in his awkward suit and went sliding across the wood floor.  Fearing he was hurt, I walked over and licked his face mask.  I still don’t know why this simple act of kindness and concern would illicit his knee-jerk response to reach for my neck with the obvious intent of ending my suffering in an altogether unacceptable manner.

Much later, when Dad discovered that a simple solution of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dishwashing liquid would have been the proper approach, he continued to blame me for rushing him into an erroneous method (yes, blame the victim!).  I’m resting comfortably now while Dad happily cleans the house (I choose to believe he’s happy, despite his endless soliloquy about an evil dog sent to him by an avenging angel for his past transgressions).  But if he continues this torrent of odiferous complaining, I may need to prepare a tub for him.



Existential Debate

All the signposts along our parallel roads were clearly visible, and they led Dad and me to this contentious point in our relationship.  It germinated in Dad’s mind (and I use the term ‘mind’ in the loosest possible sense), while he was watching the Republican and Democratic debates.  He said, “Flap, I think it’s time that you and I had a debate so that we can settle, once and for all, who is better at logic,  articulation and thinking on our feet – or, in your case, paws.  Dad, as a master of grandiloquence and deluded wisdom, would like nothing better than to upstage his mental superior.  So, being the ever-affable companion, I agreed to this absurd suggestion, and the date was set.

Dad contacted a local affiliate of CNN (Canine News Network), and they agreed to televise the event and provide an objective moderator.  The theme of the debate was existentialism, specifically a discussion of whether we truly exist on this planet or is it all an illusion (as in The Matrix).  There was a large studio audience composed of a wide variety of prospective voters, including various races, ethnicities and dog breeds.  The following is a partial transcript of the proceedings:

MODERATOR:  Good evening and welcome to this historic first debate between a dog and his human companion.  The rules are simple.  There are no rules.  We will rely on your sense of courtesy and decorum to engage in a respectful discussion (this guy had no idea with whom he was dealing).  I’ll start with a question.  Flapjack, you have stated that we must exist because nobody could ever have conceived of an illusion which contained a horrific obscenity like your dad.  Do you have any evidentiary support for this premise?

FLAPJACK:  Thank you.  First I would like to thank CNN and all the viewers for giving us the opportunity..

DAD:  You are a blatant liar!

MODERATOR:  Dad, please restrain yourself.  Flapjack has not yet began to answer the question.

FLAPJACK:  Thanks.  If our existence was nothing more than thoughts implanted by some higher intelligence, how would one explain all the random chaos and suffering in the world, such as the agony of living with Dad?

DAD:  If you were something other than the dog-dolt that you are, you would understand that chaos and suffering would necessarily be part of the illusion.  Did that ever occur to you, imbecile?

FLAPJACK:  If that premise was something more than the fallacious rambling of a proven lunatic, then yes, it might have occurred to me.  In fact, you are tangible proof of reality gone terribly wrong.

DAD:  And you are proof that nightmares can seem so incredibly real.

MODERATOR: and gentle dog, we rely on you both to remain on point and refrain from personal attacks.  Now, Dad, next question.  If our existence is an illusion, do you believe we can control situations in what we think are our lives?

DAD:  Oh, how I’ve tried.  My esteemed opponent is virtually impossible to live with, much less control.  I believe our mind-manipulators purposely throw abominations at us for their own entertainment, and render it impossible for us to merely will those things away.  My God, given the power, I would have willed this loquacious leg-lifter out of my life years ago.  But, here he stands, with that smirk on his face, and that pompous posturing…man, I’d like to just walk over there and…

FLAPJACK:  I’d like to exercise my right of rebuttal.  I believe..

DAD:  Right of rebuttal?  I’ll show you a little rebuttal when we get home.

FLAPJACK:  Yeah?  Well, bring it on, Dream Boy..

At this point, Dad lunged at me, to the collective gasp of the studio audience.  We fell to the ground, his hands around my throat and my paws in his face.  The moderator walked away in despair and the network cut to a commercial.  Moments later, the police took Dad away on animal abuse charges (seems that there were more than a few witnesses).  I wonder if a jail cell feels like an illusion?  This never should have happened.  He never should have proposed this stupid event.  And I never should have taken ‘de-bait’.

Post Valentine’s Post

It was the best Valentine’s Day ever.

While Mom and Dad were exchanging hearts and flowers, I was roaming my yard, communing with the birds and squirrels in the bright sunshine.  I don’t roam like I used to.  In fact, I don’t do much of anything the way I used to.  While the years have not had a negative effect on my fun-loving spirit, they have inflicted several painful shots to the physical aspect of my existence.  So, I move slowly, unsteadily, enjoying all the moments left to this seasoned ole Aussie.

Mom and Dad gave me a new toy and I showed my characteristic appreciation, but I really wasn’t up to playing with it, so I dropped it and laid down to rest.  Later, Mom picked up the new toy and beckoned me back out to the yard.  She threw the toy and I made the obligatory jog to retrieve it.  On the second throw, one of my legs refused to cooperate and I went down in a heap.  I was stunned, and so I just stayed there for a moment to get my bearings.

Then Mom was with me, cradling me in her arms.  “It’s OK, my sweet, sweet boy,” she said, and I felt a tear fall from her eye to my nose.  I nuzzled her.  In that moment, her love was more important to me than any new toy could ever be.  For awhile, I didn’t feel any pain, just a warm glow.

It was the best Valentine’s Day ever.

Super Bowl Springtime?

The sunny days and warm temperatures in California have faked Mom and Dad into believing that springtime is upon us.  Faking them out takes surprisingly little effort, as readers of this blog are well aware.  So, this ersatz spring has caused them to spring into action with their annual housecleaning and inventory of required projects, while I am still justifiably lying around in my wintery soporific stupor.

Yesterday, as part of our annual household updating, our new toilets were delivered.  Dad wanted to have these ‘super bowls’ in time for todays Superbowl.  Why?  I long ago gave up trying to figure out how his mind – or what passes as a mind – functions.  He is a conundrum wrapped inside a puzzle wrapped in two strips of bacon..mmm, bacon..but I digress.

The toilets are a technological marvel.  Each has so many bells and whistles, it would take a NASA engineer to figure them out.  They come equipped with seat warmers, bidet, surround sound systems, seat belts, butt-vibration and various fragrance emitters.  So, you can imagine my inept dad at the controls.  The first sign of trouble was what sounded like a world-class waterfall in the bathroom, followed by Dad’s familiar blood curdling screams (which my sensitive ears could hear over the toilet speakers blaring Cat Stevens singing “I Can’t Keep It In”).

Obviously, Dad hadn’t realized that the bidet came with various levels of pressure.  The factory setting was at the highest level (the one they call “Fire Hose”).  So, when Dad sat down (naturally forgetting to engage his seat belt) and engaged the bidet, he was literally blown three feet in the air.  The bidet’s auto-shut off kicked in, and Dad was unceremoniously dropped with great force back to the seat (I can’t believe they didn’t provide a parachute).  He was so stunned that he couldn’t move, which was unfortunate because he had inadvertently adjusted the seat warmer to the “feel the burn” setting.

Things have calmed down now.  The plumber and the paramedics have left the house, and Dad is settling down to watch the Broncos and Panthers.  Of course, his burned and bruised derriere prevents him from watching in a sitting position.  But the pain has not inhibited his Superbowl appetite, and he’s eating like there’s no tomorrow.  And you know what that means…a trip very soon to the other super bowl.  This will be a halftime show I don’t want to miss.  Ah, the joys of false springtime.

History Quiz

You may have seen the video wherein college students were asked some fairly basic questions on U.S. history and responded with startlingly absurd answers.  A few that I remember:  Who won the Civil War?  You mean the one we had with Canada?  Who is our current vice president?  Palin.  When did U.S. troops leave Vietnam?  Leave what?

After recovering from my shock, I had one of my countless brilliant thoughts.  I would canvass the dogs in my neighborhood to ascertain if they were brighter than the dolts questioned in the college survey.  I designed my questions around the subject of canines, to maintain fairness between species.

I began with the French Poodle next door.  How long has your breed been in existence?  The French have been baking bread and croissants since long before Napoleon told the french bakers to bake napoleons.  I didn’t say bread, I said breed.  Why would we bake breed?  Are all Aussies imbeciles?

I quickly departed the land of the looney, and headed to the German Shepherd two doors down.  Who started the German Shepherd breed?  You dumkopf! Everyone knows that the Germans invented all breeds of dogs.  But my understanding is that dogs evolved from wolves, isn’t that correct?  Of course.  First, the Germans invented wolves, then they invented evolution.  So, dogs were essentially invented in the fatherland, even stupid Aussies like you.

This was not going well, so I hurried quickly to the Chihuahua across the street.  The gate was locked, but I could see him through the fence, so I called to him. Could you stand up and walk over here so that I can ask you a few questions?  I AM standing up, Señor Wise Guy.  Oh, sorry..can you tell me how many Chihuahuas were present at the battle of the Alamo?  There was only one..the famous Chipotle Chihuahua.  He infiltrated the Alamo ahead of Santa Anna’s troops, running around from Austin to Crockett to Bowie, offering them burritos which were infected with e coli bacteria.  By the time of the attack, these guys were – pardon the expression – as sick as dogs.  And the rest was history, thanks to one brave little Mexican puppy.

I was truly dismayed at this point.  But I decided to visit one last dog..the collie around the block.  Where did collies get their name?  Well, we originally were put to work guarding cantaloupe fields in the vast farmlands of America.  The work was very tedious and boring, and we began to suffer from various forms of depression, so the farmers called us melon-collies.  It was eventually shortened to collies.  Seriously, you didn’t know that?

I have a new respect for our astute college students.

Critical Mess

If age is just a number and if you should never lose the child (or pup) inside you, then why do some folks expect older dogs to lie around in a stupor waiting for the inevitable?  I, for one, refuse to go gently into that goodnight, which of course means that I will continue to push Mom and Dad to the brink of insanity at every opportunity.

If they are enamored of a particular throw rug, I will see that it gets dragged out the door and into the rear yard for a thorough airing out.  If left alone in the garage, I will dutifully tidy up by rearranging every tool, container, gadget and piece of equipment (especially those that are tagged, “Flap, Do Not Touch”).  They have only to leave the family room to find it “redecorated” upon their return.  And when I take a drink, I try hard to slobber half the water over a 25 foot circumference around my dish.  I could, of course, refrain from doing all of the above and receive the customary “good boy” reward (yawn).  But I prefer to run on the wild side in order to get my companions’ stagnant blood moving around a bit.  It’s good for their health and, therefore I misbehave for their benefit.

So, today I decided to test their find the tipping point of their reach critical mass by creating a critical mess.  They left the door between the garage and the house wide if they were inviting me to raise hell.  I didn’t disappoint them.  I managed to drag a 50 pound bag of fertilizer into the house while they were upstairs.  Once I had the bag inside, I opened it and dragged it through the house, spilling its contents in every room of the ground floor.  It was so much fun that I repeated it with two more bags.

Mom and Dad, smelling the distinctive odor of a cattle ranch, came running downstairs to find me smiling, ankle deep in cow dung.  Their reaction was classic.  Dad fell silent, as his body prepared to involuntarily explode.  Mom looked at the mess philosophically.  She calmly said to me, “Flap, my poor baby, you’ve obviously become so senile that you’re confused about what you’re doing.  Now, please help Mom clean this up, and tell me you’ll never do it again.”  Perhaps it was Mom’s cool reaction combined with my outrageous behavior that caused Dad to snap.  I don’t know, I’m just a dog.  Suffice it to say that he is now lying comfortably under heavy sedation.

I visited Dad a few minutes ago.  He was on his bed, drooling and mumbling.  I think he murmured something about me taking years away from his life.  It’s ironic, because I seem to be feeling younger.  Dad just needs to chill.  Now I’m next to Mom with my chin in her lap, and she’s saying “Good boy, Flap”.  I guess Dad heard her because my sensitive ears detected an agonizing scream from his bedroom.  I think I may delay the next round of mischief for…oh…a day or so.


Who’s Better?

It has been years since I last graced this blog with a post, and I’ve received a host of inquiries about this leave of absence.  One curious young lady asked, “Did you die?”  Yes, I did.  But I’m back to tell you about it.  (OK, Mom and Dad have advised me that sarcasm doesn’t become me, but who cares?)  Actually, I took a long sabbatical to advance my study of human behavior (or more accurately, misbehavior).  I consider myself to have a relatively good sense of humor.  That’s a prerequisite to living with my buffoons, er I mean Mom and Dad.  But my findings on humans are sufficiently distressing to take the ‘fun’ out of ‘funny’, leaving me only with ‘ny’ which is meaningless, albeit succinct.

I just returned from Iowa, where I observed what is known as caucus.  I would have preferred going to Arizona to observe what is known as cactus.  Cactus are less injurious than the slings, arrows, barbs and jabs produced by political candidates.  I heard personal attacks from everyone, aimed at everyone else on every conceivable issue, all designed to annihilate one candidate or another.  it was like being backstage at the AKC Best in Show awards.  I was so exhausted this morning, I took three naps instead of my usual two.  It was a good lesson in American politics, and a better one in doing what’s expedient to achieve a goal.  Lies, exaggerations, aberrant conduct, unimaginable butchering of the english language, blatant insults – I used all of them just to get an upgraded room at my Iowa kennel.  But my point is that humans will do and say just about anything if they want something badly enough.  They like to believe they are selfless, kind, altruistic and compassionate.  But give them an opportunity to win an election (or even a caucus), to advance their position in a line of traffic, to beat someone to a bargain, or to make a rival look ridiculous, and the halo quickly disintegrates.  Dogs are so much better.

Having said that, I must be fair.  I have also studied other areas of human conduct.  I have observed bravery in the face of almost certain death, good deeds where no reciprocation was anticipated, and empathy when turning away would have been easier.  I saw firemen rescue a dog who was sinking through cracked ice on a lake, I saw a lady pull an unconscious person from a burning car, and I saw a 12-year old return money to a grocery store clerk after he gave her too much change.  These people were heeding their “better angels” and they tend to have a more lasting impact on me than those less noble.  And yet, dogs are so much better.

I’m going on 14 years of age…that’s about 350 of your years, according to Stephen Hawking (who is the world’s best theoretical physicist, but lousy with human-dog year conversions).  With age has come some degree of wisdom to supplement my vast store of knowledge and experience.  I have come to value the attributes that humans sometimes demonstrate.  I have been fortunate to be able to impart many of these attributes to Mom and Dad..attributes like honesty, dependability, compassion and humility.  Especially humility.  And they have done relatively well.  And yet, as a dog, I am so much better.