Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feeney and the Cheese Man

One of the things I do obsessively is rescue animals. Dogs, typically. I don't do it on purpose, I swear. I think I have some infrared bat-signal that serves as a beacon to any stray dog within a 50 mile radius. I can't even go on a road trip without picking up a mutt off the side of the highway... (see Benny, right).

Usually they are adopted out fairly quickly. I had mister Ben for almost exactly one month before he was placed.
Whew! Now I only have FOUR dogs in the house again. Mm-hm. God bless you Swiffer company.

Then there's Miss Feeney, AKA Feefer-Neefers, AKA Fi-nay-nay, AKA Feestie Beastie, AKA Queen Feefertiti... you get the idea. She's more of a hard case. Perfectly sweet dog, but she's a pit bull, so everyone assumes she's just lying in wait to eat their children.

Everyone, that is, except the Cheese Man.

The Cheese Man lives next door with his wife. They are a very sweet, old-school southern couple of an indeterminate age (Paleolithic, I'd wager).

The Cheese Man, like all respectable old-school southern types, spends a prodigious amount of time sitting on his front porch in a standard-issue white plastic lawn chair. He always wears suspenders despite the fact that his pants go up to his armpits. Needless to say, I like the Cheese Man.

His wife, Missus Cheese Man, looks - and I say this with the deepest affection - like the dad from Frasier in a pink, quilted house coat. She has an impossibly small Yorkie named Cassie. So small, in fact, that Missus Cheese Man picks up Cassie's elfin "leavings" with a piece of Kleenex, invariably produced with a flourish from a pocket in the aforementioned house coat. (As a point of reference, I typically have to use a full-sized plastic shopping bag to clean up after my puppers.)

Each night at about the same time, I go for a walk with Feeney and my son (who, I hasten to add, is still in possession of his entire face and all ten fingers). Each night, the last thing we pass before coming home is the House of Cheese.

The Cheese Man loves Miss Feeney. When he was a younger man, there was a company dog named Copper at the lumber yard where he worked. She was a pit bull too and everyone there loved her. This was back in a time when pit bulls were America's dog. When their images were used in advertisements for everything from shoes to soap flakes.

Petey was a pit bull.

Sometime since then, pit bulls became Public Enemy Number One. They were stripped of their canine-ness much as victims of bigotry and hatred were stripped of their humanity. Sometime since then, they were relegated to the "Horrible Things We Have No Control Over" category along with the Ebola Virus, Terrorists, Tabloids and Space Aliens.

In most cases, pit bulls get a lot worse from us then we get from them.

This is the life that Feeney led before I got her. She was living on a chain in a mud-soaked holler surrounded by forty other dogs, also chained. She was half starved, scarred, mangy, in the advanced stages of heatworm disease, and had clearly been popping out puppies faster than a cash machine can dispense a pile of twenties (girlfriend got her some NIPS!)

Still, she absolutely loves people. She's a shameless flirt.

When I walk her in certain neighborhoods, as she looks optimistically up at an approaching family and gamely wags her tail, the parents will clutch their children and flee in terror, looking at me as if I were brandishing a shotgun.

But not the Cheese Man. Everytime we see him, he breaks into a big grin and says, "Now there's that bull dawg!"

The Cheese Man loves Miss Feeney. Miss Feeney loves the Cheese Man. As soon as we round the corner, she abandons her sterling obedience training and hauls me up the lawn. I trail behind as helpless and insignificant as a tin can tied to the bumper of a Mac Truck.

As if on cue, the Cheese Man bellows "Becky! Bring me a slice of American Cheese for that bull dog!" (In the local patois, it sounds like "Beggeah! Brang meah slahs ah Umericun chayz fo' that buuull dawg!").

Feeney's eyes light up. She hurls her little body into a sit with her chin poised millimeters from the Cheese Man's knees. She vibrates with joy.

And, as Missus Cheese Man pads up to the door to produce a pristinely wrapped slice of American Cheese, the Cheese Man gets a happy, far-away look in his eyes and asks my son and me if he's ever told us about that old bull dog, Copper.

Miss Feeney


liv said...

aww, sheeit. i think i jest got fooped. you dun got me with yer sweet ass dawg story.

tell yer mommandems i sed how you durrin?

Andie D. said...

How could you help but fall for that sweet FACE? She has to, absolutely WILL find the right family.

I just met a dude in my neighborhood with the sweetest male pit bull pup. Dude told me the name of the pup was "Bunny". He wanted to fight the stereotype, and Bunny went against everything a male pit bull stereotypically stood for. I LOVE IT.

P.S. All of the kids at the park (including my 2 and 5 year old) were all over Bunny. None of them had any preconceived notions that Bunny was anything other than a great dog.

Oh, The Joys said...

I am so glad you are writing. This just made me laugh and laugh!

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Oh my LAWD.

I want her. She wouldn't get along with my female (they would fight to the death unfortunately, or more to the point my Lana would beat that poor sweet girl into submission or die trying) but that face is just too much.

And I've decided you are my new best friend. You lucky thing you.

fooped said...

Chicky Chicky - Glad to have you here. you may love me, but I love you more.