Friday, January 18, 2013

I came across this old picture of Arthur, my grandmother's "disgusting" Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and laughed.  This corpulent and sad-eyed dog was a confusion for me as a child, because he was the first un-fun dog I had ever known.  Arthur spent his days looming moodily in the backyard or lumbering unpredictably through the house, knocking over children and tripping my grandmother.  She was forever treating him for fleas and ticks, which involved a hand-administered "dip," so that he always exuded a rank, chemical smell, and his rumpled coat left a sheen of poison powder on the hands.  She would always say, "Oh, don't touch him, honey. Now go wash your hands."  Poor Arthur.

My grandma sometimes made up songs about him, most of which were about how awful and pathetic he was, that she would sing as she went about her day.  It was funny because it was true, but also because we knew that she secretly loved him but would never admit it.  She often traded in the uncharitable but ultimately affectionate brand of humor that I enjoy.  She always started the song I remember with a jaunty, "Oh..." the memory of which cracks me up any time I'm reminded of it.

Thank god someone took this picture of him.  

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