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Gone to the dogs

Laugh Tracks in the Dust
Milo Yield
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.

It was nearly a universal truth during my callow youth on a little diversified farm in southeast Kansas that most farmsteads were protected by some kind of cur dog that clearly disapproved of strangers venturing into his/her home territory.

If a stranger drove up the driveway, the car wuz met by a loud-barking, surly-looking mutt, whose scruff was raised, and had a snarl or growl on its lips. The canine message wuz: “You’re not welcome. Proceed with caution.”

If the stranger — often a door-to-door salesman or some neophyte peddling religion — wuz brave enuf to exit the vehicle, he/she always kept a keen eye on the mutt to keep from being hamstrung from behind.

As the years went by, and the liability of a biting dog got high enuf for owners to pay attention, it became more common for there to be a sign at the road-end of the driveway that read: “BAD DOG!” And, sometimes that bad dog became a pedigreed one. And later on, it became more common for the front yard of the farmstead to be fenced in, and the fence wore the “bad dog” sign.

Still other farmers and ranchers never let their protective canines run free, but opted to chain up their dog close to the front porch steps, so the mutt could both protect the home and get weather protection under the porch.

This is a story about ol’ Les Makadolar, a traveling livestock feed salesman, back in the days of my youth. As a district salesman, Les worked hard, traveled a lot and knew that his sales success centered on establishing personal relationships with potential customers. That meant getting to make his sales pitch to them eye-to-eye over their kitchen table. That means setting up an appointment with each new farmer/rancher he wanted as a customer.

It didn’t take very long into his sales career for Les to start learning the ropes about protective farm dogs. When making an appointment, Les learned to ask in advance if he needed to be aware of a farm dog. If the farm/ranch had a dog, Les learned to let the dog have a good bark, while he quitely talked to it through the open window of his pickup.

He started carrying tasty dog treats in his pocket so he could win over the protective canine. Between soothing talk, a tasty treat and a slow walk, Les learned to maneuver his way into most homes without getting bitten.

Well, one time he called up an old bachelor to set up a sales appointment. When Les asked about a farm dog, the old gentleman replied, “Yep, I got one. But, don’t worry, he won’t hurt you. Just come on through the front yard gate and walk up the sidewalk. I’ll meet you at the front steps.”

So, the next morning Les arrived at the appointed farm at the appointed time and found a neat home with a white picket fenced front yard. Grabbing his briefcase with all his feed sales materials in it, Les opened the gate and confidently strode up the sidewalk toward the front porch.

When he wuz about 10 feet from the front steps, the bachelor opened the screen door at the exact same moment that a huge dog, as large and shaggy as a timber wolf, charged out from under the porch, snarling with teeth bared, and leaped straight for Les’s throat.

“I’m a goner,” Les thought. “That dog is intent on killing me.”

But, then, just as Les ducked instinctually to protect his throat, the huge dog stopped in mid-charge, did a back-flip, and mildly headed back under the porch.

Arising and brushing himself off, in a still-trembling voice, Les asked the bachelor. “What’s the story on that ill-tempered dog?”

To which the bachelor nonchalantly replied, “Oh, him. Don’t worry. I unfastened his leash yesterday and he ain’t figgered it out yet.”

•••

Now that you’re heard the story, and hopefully gotten a chuckle from it, I want to remind you that the story has a moral to it.

Remember, there was no chain or leash holding back that vicious mutt from doing what it wanted to do except it’s habitual way of living life. It could have easily expanded its world beyond the boundaries of the chain to which it has been always tied. In that dog’s mind, there was still an invisible chain holding it back.

The moral of the story is don’t be like that dog. Don’t let old habits and an invisible chain hold you back from exploring news ways of living life, doing business and handling relationships. You might surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.

•••

Since this column is one for the dogs, I might as well end up this column with some dog one-liners, thanks to an email from a friend.

Vampires favorite dog breed is a Bloodhound.

What goes tick-tock, woof-woof? A watchdog.

What is the favorite pizza flavor for dogs? Pup-eroni.

If your dog eats garlic, I bet his bark is worse than his bite.

A dog was banned from a flea circus — because he stole the show.

What do you get if you cross a dog with a calculator? A best friend you can really count on.

What is it called when a cat wins a dog show? A cat-has-trophy.

What’s round and green and herds sheep? A melon-collie.

I named my new robot puppy “Dogmatic.”

•••

Wise-guy question of the week: Who paints the state and county lines that show up on the television meteorologists’ weather maps? Have a good ‘un. ❖


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