Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hot Dog

My grandparents had a dog named Tina. Tina was unusual. We don't really know what breed of dog she was, but we imagined her to be some sort of straight haired poodle crossed with a chihuahua, a rat, and something similar to a dodo bird.

Tina had white fur that resembled long stringy feathers. This "fur" barely covered her anorexic frame, exposing pink and grey skin beneath like a bad comb-over. She did not like to be held by anyone beside my grandparents. She hated children. She snapped at us when we tried to pet her. She shook on her spindly legs as though she would fall down any second.

This in no way does Tina justice.

Despite all this, my grandparents loved that dog more than anything else on the planet. Their love somehow sustained Tina. The poor creature defied its dodo roots, living to be around 157 in dog years. She lived long after she had lost the ability to hear, see, and bark like other dogs.

One winter, while we visited, crashing on the icy floor in the outer living room, my grandma mentioned she had not seen Tina in a while.

We searched everywhere, calling out the dog's name, even though she could not hear us. My grandparents became more frantic as they worried for their lost freak show of a dog. We assumed she snuck outside into the cold where her feathers would not offer much protection. We did not stop looking though. Tina was their precious extremely elderly baby. We could not give up hope and destroy our grandparents' hearts.

Someone heard a faint raspy bark, then another. At least she was in the house and not frozen in the snow outside. The barks seemed to come from nowhere, everywhere, the ghost of Tina calling from the walls in every room. I followed the sound as best I could, leading me slowly to the source, the heating vents. My grandpa had removed one of the grates to let more air flow out in order to heat the small section of the house we could use and occupy.

Tina was in the vents! She wandered around lost, blind, and alone, only able to move forward in the narrow ducts. We called to her down the open vent, but her barks came from a great distance. She would not return the way she had gone.

My father raced to the scary basement where the fruit room resided. He followed the little tik tik sound of Tina's footsteps. Her destination was not pretty.

My father heard the barks from just outside the furnace. He acted quickly, pulling the the ductwork apart with his hands.

Soot fell from the gaping hole.

Tina fell into his arms, exhausted, covered in soot, but alive. She had been inches away from a very messy and bar-b-qued end. She was around 102 in dog years at the time. She lived a good many years after. She was too frail to give her a bath in the middle of winter, so the soot stayed, became a part of her, yellowing her fur...even more.

We then endured several days of my grandpa repeating the joke, "We almost had ourselves a HOT DOG!" to everyone he saw, including those of us who had heard him say it 79 times already. We pretended to laugh for him every time.

My grandparents and Tina will be missed. Wherever you are, I love all three of you.


Candice said...

I'm impressed by your dad's quick thinking and even quicker intervention. I'm sure that losing their dog to a fiery furnace would have been pretty traumatic for your grandparents.

Ya gotta love those lame grandpa jokes. That's one rare breed of humor.

Thanks for the laugh, by the way. :)

Chanel said...

Your grandpa sounds like my AP Bio teacher in high school. Lots and lots of pun filled jokes. *laugh* I like his hot dog joke, but I haven't heard it 77 times, so that's probably why.

I like this story, and I like Tina. If she didn't like children, there was a reason. I hope you guys were patient with her and didn't go out of your way to tease the poor dear.

Michelle said...

Tina just hated you Charlie :) I have many memories of her trying to "kiss" me on the lips. Grandpa would alway joke when I was totally grossed out "She see's Grandma and I kiss on the lips and thats what she thinks is the best way". Which grossed me out even more as a little kid.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Holy crap, that poor dog. That poor LUCKY dog. :) Animals are a bit dense at times. They know when you open a food packet from the other side of the continent, yet tell them not to stray into tiny spaces from which there is no escape? Good luck.

Brent Wescott said...

Great story, but this is just one more reason not to have pets. Who needs the worry that their precious will end up in the walls? (Cue my son crawling into the hole in the back of my closet as soon as he's able.)

Plus, I like the signs on the furnace. Classic.
It Just Got Interesting

Michael Offutt said...

Your life sounds so fascinating to have these stories in them. I've never heard of a dog falling down an open grate and then getting stuck in the sooty pipes leading to the furnace. Yowsa...very close call and extremely memorable. My mother makes up good stories (she has dementia). She once told me a giant eagle swooped out of the sky and carried our weenie dog away. I looked out of the window and saw the dog in the yard. Just another validation that mom had lost her mind.

Bryan M. White said...

"Also do not allow your dog to crawl around inside. That is bad. Okay."

Excuse me. I have to go look at my furnace and see if it has a warning like that.

Penny Lane said...

Oh my poor little doggy.

If I had a dog, I wonder if I would notice if it was missing. Probably not.

Apoliticism said...

I love your story telling skills. Being good at short and long stories (i.e. novels) is not something many people are able to do. You excel! Thanks monkey-raptor man.

Alyson said...

I love this story. It reminds me of my grandparent's old dog.And your drawing of Tina is so cute. :)

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Candice- Seriously quick thinking on my dad's part. I hope to be even quicker as I get older. My jokes will be weird, but less lame. I am not a fan of I will come up with outher ways to embarrass my kids and grandkids.

Chanel- There was a reason. She was tortured as a puppy by some kids. Not me. That was well before I was born. Tina was great in her own weird way.

Michelle- Tina just liked girls more than boys and you loved her kisses.

VA- True. My dog will run full tilt into a rock while running around in front of my condo, but has the smarts to learn half a dozen tricks and double that in English words. We can't say "treat, ride, walk, run, mail, food".

Brent- Pets are awesome. Kids are even more reckless. Good luck.

Michael- Not really that fascinating really. I have random friends and family, we laugh a lot, but, other than that, pretty dull. I liked your mom's story. Sometimes the made up ones are the best.

Bryan- Pretty sure that is a standard warning sticker on modern furnaces. Don't bother looking. I'm sure it's there.

Penny- You would. They are like children. If it is quiet, they are up to something.

Jared- Thank you. I love your stories too. Keep em coming on your crazy little blog. Your pics rock something fierce too.

Alyson- Thank you. I have to find a pic of Tina. You really have to see the original.

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