Barry Smith: Denial of Daisy
There are those who still like to point out that “denial” is not a river in Egypt.
Despite the long expired sell-by date of this tired New Age punch line, it’s actually true: “Denial” is not a river in Egypt, it’s a river that meanders through the middle of my family’s house, regularly flooding its banks and filling the room with a layer of rich, fertile column fodder.
One such flood recently receded and left behind “Daisy,” a medium-sized sheep doggie with cute little ears, curious eyes and an insatiable lust for human blood.
I met Daisy about a month ago during a visit to my aunt’s house in California. When I first walked in I was instructed to sit very still on the couch so that I could be “introduced.” As my aunt fetched the dog, my grandmother began to tell me about how Daisy bit someone last week. And someone else during a Christmas party. And Uncle Jerry during his last visit. And…
The list may have been longer, but the barking dog lunging at me suddenly had the floor.
This was not one of those “I’m barking but I’m really just excited” barks, it was a “I will tear the very flesh from your bones” bark, and all that stood in the way of such a flesh-tearing was my aunt, who was straining to hold the jerking leash, bracing herself as the dog recoiled and lunged repeatedly.
“It’s OK, Daisy,” my aunt cooed over the snarls of the beast, which was about two feet from me.
Daisy was thinking: “Oh yeah, it’s OK. You just loosen your grip a little bit and everything will turn out juuuuust fine.”
I scanned the coffee table for a potential weapon. All that was within reach was a copy of “Mademoiselle.” If the leash snapped I figured I’d quickly flip through its pages, remove one of the perfume sample cards and rub it on Daisy’s nose. As nauseating as those things are to humans, they must be deadly to the sensitive canine nose.
Are you with me so far? I’m on the couch while a dog in full attack mode lunges at me, all the while being reassured that everything is OK.
And my family wonders why I don’t visit more often. Or stay longer.
Later, when the dog had “warmed up” to me, I got the rundown of the previous attacks, and how none of them were the dog’s fault. The Christmas biting was the bitee’s fault because, despite the fact that he was sitting still minding his own business at the time, it turns out that he’s afraid of dogs. Uncle Jerry, it was concluded, wasn’t actually “bitten,” but “nipped.” The last biting was still too recent to have built up adequate layers of denial, but they were working on some leads to further explain how Daisy was really just a harmless little pooch.
Then, as we’re discussing this, my stepmother drops by. Well, almost. She only made it as far as the door before Daisy, now off the leash, greeted her in her own special tail-wagging way … by biting her. Hard. Twice. Once on the chest (obviously while leaping for her throat), then on the back of the leg as she was trying to escape. Both bites were serious enough to require medical attention.
Uh … bad dog.
But not THAT bad. The still waters of denial run deep, you see. So when Uncle Jerry paid another visit, just last week, lovable little Daisy was still roaming freely through the house, waiting for her chance to latch on to his knee. Which she did.
The call went out: “Daisy `nipped’ Uncle Jerry again.”
Nipped. That’s so adorable. I’m sure that’s what Uncle Jerry thought as he watched the blood run down his leg and into his shoe.
When the time rolls ’round again for my annual visit, I won’t be surprised if I find myself sitting motionless on the couch while being introduced to “Shaky,” the new pet rattlesnake. Sure, she’s sent a few people to the hospital, but she’s coldblooded … it takes her a while to warm up to you.
At least I hope that’s the case: I’ve got deadlines to meet.
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