I’m soaked with sweat and gin and the dog is guilty as hell. One ear up, one ear down, Boudreaux Bontemp [bon-tom] is indifferent to the mess he has created, offering a short glance at us to see what all the commotion is about then racing another lap on the loop comprising the living room, the sunroom, and the pair of doors straddling the fireplace that open the two spaces to one another.
The sweat came from an early evening spent swinging for the fences, and quite successfully so. Unfortunately we were playing tennis, a contentious evening of sport during which I applied power when my partner would have preferred touch. For her part, my bride Aimee complained when I returned balls that were clearly out of bounds. Why does it matter, I contended, that the ball be inbounds when we are not keeping score? The point was exercise: chase, hit, repeat. A successful rally is counted in returns not in besting the opponent, but there had been a lot of net, fences, and triple bounces. We were out of practice and the activity wasn’t that much fun. I came up with a saying: In like doubles. [Meaning something is “in” if using the larger standard of a doubles court for those not part of this racquet.]
The dog came from the intersection of Harden and Laurel Streets in Columbia, perhaps from the housing project located there. The traffic light was about to change and the pup, his belly about four inches from the ground, would not likely have faired well. The wife asked if the dog belonged to a passer-by and he said no, so she cajoled him into bringing the tiny beast to her. She brought him to my work to show me. He had the sleekness of an otter’s coat but soft around the head, shiny as a show horse, all black except the white blaze running from his neck to between his front quarters and the white spats over all four paws. He’d look dashing in a white bowtie. I could not recall ever thinking a dog was this cute before. One ear up, one ear down.
[Note: Aimee found an article that claims there is a phenomenon called black dog syndrome which purports black dogs are adopted at lower rates and euthanized at higher rates than other dogs or even cats. This is because of the lack of contrast and the difficulty of seeing emotions on their faces. This begs the question: is Boudreaux the exception that proves the rule or would he be even cuter if he were some other color? Boggles the mind.]
The dog was not microchipped, no tags nor collar. We searched for an owner and then pretended to see if anyone wanted him—and there were plenty of takers—but he was given his first Scheib name of Boudreaux Bontemp before he’d even made it to my office. We had Macy and Schotzie and then found stray dog the Little in May 2014. We were barely a year back at our regular dog census of two after putting down Schotzie in May 2016. This dog, however, was an evolutionary masterpiece of human compatibility: smart and easily trained, he chases balls with abandon, gets along with the other dogs, enjoys children, hugs one’s arm when carried, and loves to give light kisses with his delicate tongue. So we are back to three dogs but at least the humans still outnumber the non-human animals. Unless you count the fish.
The gin comes from under the wet bar sink. When 1 ½ ounces is combined with the juice of one lime, four ice cubes, and a three ounces of diet tonic water you get a refreshing beverage that is only 3 points on Weight Watchers (for the full recipe see Gin Chronicles Vol. 3). Aimee and I got our drinks and sat down on the couch in the sunroom to see if anyone had said anything nice about us on Facebook. This is the one room in the house that’s really ours. The children just don’t go in there, maybe because it is full of books, which are kryptonite to young, digitally inclined minds. Canines do not have this aversion.
Boudreaux rounded the corner, tore through the door, and leaped onto the couch, careening into Aimee’s gin and tonic. For a brief instant we shared an experience with the winning coach of the college football national championship game or of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, which is another way of saying the Gatorade bath might have become a wee-bit-too common form of celebration. I ran to the kitchen to get paper towels to soak up the liquid but returned to find the generous cushions of the couch had already guzzled the drink. We paused to consider if the lime juice would leave a stain and decided it was not worth worrying about and retook our seats.
Aimee got her phone turned on just in time for Boudreaux to reverse course and do another short lap, this time leaving the earth to land in my lap for another Gatorade bath, the sudden shock of cold and wet, the realization the sofa was probably ruined. Our children could do much less to get a stern dressing down but we stood in the sunroom and laughed like fools and then sat down on the cold, wet couch and watched the little charmer chase his tail. “Cute as a button,” my foot. Should be “Cute as a puppy.”
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