As a humorist, I’m constantly looking for amusing stuff to write about. But lately, I find my funny tank is running dry.
Maybe it’s the thought of Kim Jong-un with his finger on the button or maybe it’s because I’m finishing up a book and am lodged in a writer’s miasma, stuck in a chasm between one work and another.
Or maybe it’s because I’m really running on empty, egads!
So when I get desperate (like I am now) I can always turn to my dogs for inspiration.
Take Butter, for instance. Some dogs chase cars, Butter chases planes. He’s a Jack Russell/beagle mix but if he was a human, he’d be in the Air Force because he runs after aircraft barking furiously like they have no business flying over our farm.
He’ll start woofing up a storm and I’ll step outside to see what he’s barking at. I search the landscape but can’t find anything. Not a car, not a deer, but I can hear a slight hum in the distance. Scanning the sky, I see a speck, a plane way off in the distance. That’s what Butter’s barking at. When it recedes past the horizon, Butter stops, turns and heads back into the house as if he’s thinking, “Damn, I sure took care of that one.”
He really goes bananas when four or five helicopters come whopping over the house. They fly over once or twice a month, maybe carting generals to the spook palace up on 29. And for some reason, they fly low, like a couple thousand feet over the farm so they make a real racket, even rattling the windows.
When he hears them approaching, Butter races out onto the lawn and goes into his defensive posture which involves a series of wild leaps into the air in the direction of the choppers. He’ll get a good eighteen inches off the ground all the while nipping at the air like he’s trying to bite their tires, not caring that he’s a good two thousand feet shy. His aerial acrobatics go on until the helicopters disappear behind the trees.
But the pinnacle of Butter’s air controller antics came last fall when a hot air balloon came sailing over the house. Low enough so I could make out the faces of the passengers, for a second I thought they were going to land in the front field.
If I thought his helicopter jumps were impressive, he went after that hot air balloon like it was loaded with cats, shooting up in the air and howling frantically, the apex of his leaps easily two feet off the ground.
I can imagine the passengers in the balloon’s basket looking down at this tiny creature trying to rocket himself up to their altitude. They must have been howling like I was, this tiny Jack Russell trying to ward off an invasion by air.
When the balloon passed over, Butter came back to ground and I walked up and patted him, saying, “Good job, Butter, you saved us from certain death and destruction.”
He looked up at me as if he was thinking, “Thanks, Boss, but it’s my job.”
The only thing Butter hates more than airborne objects is people in uniforms. He broke the skin of a young lady, a tech out to repair our air conditioning system, nipped her shin right through her pants so much it began to bleed. She had it treated at Sentara and they reported it to the county so we got a visit from an animal control officer. We sent the victim a gift card and placated the guy from the county. But word quickly got around about the ferocious creature residing at Chopping Bottom so now when technicians visit to fix this or that, they cower in their trucks until I come out and leash him. He’s only about a foot tall and can’t weight more than twenty pounds but to them Butter might as well be Cujo.
Another amusing trick he has is spelunking. When we’re in bed, he jumps up, walks to the top of the covers and works his head under until he can tunnel down to the bottom of the bed to stay there all night. Early on, I had to poke him with my toes to make sure he hadn’t suffocated. Now I just take it for granted that even under a sheet, blanket and comforter, Butter can breathe.
In the morning, he doesn’t come out until I throw back the covers and he slowly crawls out, blinking like a badger coming out of his burrow.
This dog is a real hoot—unless you fix air conditioners for a living.
So thanks, Butter, for helping Tony get his funny back.