by Mark Thomas
Dog day afternoons CALL ME SEXIST. Say I’m old fashioned. But I’ve always thought women should be seen with small dogs. Pooches small enough to fit into one Paris Hilton’s Hermes handbags. Right next to the collapsible battery operated back-massager. And while I’m on Paris Hilton (and who hasn’t been?) I must admit not only does she own the appropriate size dog -albeit Chihuahuas remain ugly as hell no matter what you put or dress them up in -- she also bestowed an appropriate name on the little rat, I mean mutt. Tinkerbelle.
Women should not name their dogs Scott or Ted. Or anything sounding suspiciously like the names of ex-boyfriends or husbands. People might talk. Yes, giving appropriate consideration to the size and name of her dog is probably the only ladylike thing Paris has ever done. And for that I applaud her. (The video tape wasn’t bad either) But guess what? My hard held views concerning people of the female persuasion and their canines are beginning to soften. Yes, this old dog is being taught a new trick. It all started a few weeks ago while strolling around downtown Savannah. Something I noticed was afoot. And I don’t mean your average thug running off with your car stereo.
No, everywhere I turned I saw huge, monstrous dogs -- the kind that should either be guarding the gates of Hades or patrolling your nearest drug dealer’s backyard -- escorting dainty white women around the squares of our historic district. I was baffled. I’m used to seeing the occasional bulldog being walked by some hot-shot lawyer’s secretary around lunch time. Hey, this is Georgia after all. But what I witnessed that day was something else entirely. A virtual cavalcade of caninedom’s most deadly was on parade. German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Pit Bulls, some so huge you could put a saddle on them and pass them off as Christmas ponies Dogs with vicious names. Names that say, “Back off! Or I’ll take off that hand.” Names like Killer, Chainsaw, and Napalm. I even came face to face with a nasty little Shih Tzu named Rove, as in Karl, not Rover. Was this some new weight resistance/exercise fad? You know, get yanked around by a 100 pound Great Dane and lose weight while gaining muscle tone. Was this dog-lattes? Or was Big Mean Dog suddenly on the SCAD school supply list along with backpacks and i-Pods? (Little did I know that this theory was probably closer to the truth than I had imagined) Needless to say, I had to get to bottom of this. Questions demanded answering. Suspicions needed confirmation. And besides it was getting dark. So I decided to phone self-proclaimed cracker, recently retired Armstrong history professor, and my sometime canasta opponent Ephraim Zachary Beauregard. Friends call him E-Z.
“E-Z, what’s with all these young white women and big ‘ol dogs gallivanting around downtown Savannah?” “Well, Mark, they don’t have boyfriends and therefore --” “You don’t mean...” I interrupted. “Get your mind out of the gutter,” he snapped. “I’m surprised you ain’t figured it out, Mr. Shooting Victim.” “I’m not following,” I lied. Because I knew exactly where E-Z was going. It had finally dawned on me what was going on. And let’s face it, after one bullet through the chest I’d rather E-Z say it. “Well, let me break it down for you. Did you see any black people on the same sidewalk with these women while they walked their dogs?” “Well, actually most of them crossed the street,” I answered. “Bingo! I hate to call a spade a spade but most people from the ghetto, I mean the inner city, are scared to death of dogs. And who’s got time to whip out a can of mace these days?” “That’s the most racist thing I’ve heard,” I kinda lied. “I remember this time when a pretty little thing got herself a hold of one them retired drug dogs. Well, that dog ‘bout chased half the people he saw around the squares.” When I finally returned home that day I felt all dirty and yet somewhat nostalgic. I yearned for a time unsullied by race and fear. Suddenly I started rummaging through boxes and cabinets until I located my old dog collar and a leash. Finding those handcuffs, the leather whip, and that phone number I got at the bar, now that was a real bitch. ◗