Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Romping With Wrigley

During my five-year stint as a public defender in Bethel, Alaska, one of my greatest joys was my occasional visits from my coworker’s extremely vocal beagle, Wrigley. The dog and I had an understanding. I kept a large box of dog biscuits in my filing cabinet and would feed that critter as many as he wanted. In return, Wrigley would make it clear that he thought I was absolutely, positively the most wonderful person in the world. This was downright therapeutic for me after having disgruntled clients calling me *everything* but a Precious Child of God 8-5 Monday through Friday.

Wrigley would run away from home, lurk outside the public defender’s office door and dart in at his first opportunity. He would then scamper down the hall and scamper to my office door, scratching and trying to turn the doorknob with his paws. This was a sight that never failed to crack me up. Furthermore, Wrigley did not bark like most dogs. That critter *hooooooooooooooowled*. I do not have an English-to-Beaglish dictionary, but I *think* he was saying, “Biscuits! Biscuits! I want biscuits right now!”

I told Wrigley’s owner that the dog was a talented creature. Not only could he sing, but he could dance. I would hold up a biscuit, and Wrigley would dance on his hind legs, trying to snatch the biscuit from my hand.. I’ve noticed that some dogs are dainty eaters. Wrigley could scarf one down in two seconds flat, then look at me as if to say, “So...... what have you done for me lately?”

The biscuit box gave instructions to only give a dog one biscuit for every seven pounds of body weight; I suspect that Wrigley may be the world’s only 147-pound beagle. If I ran out of biscuits or, as happened only occasionally, Wrigley had satisfied his appetite, the dog would run around in no apparent direction looking for a sunny place to nap. I once told Wrigley’s owner that it seemed that her dog’s life consisted of two occasions: happy hour and nappy hour. Who says that leading a dog’s life is a bad thing? Sad to say, Wrigley’s owner eventually told me to stop feeding her pet because she feared that Wrigley might get hit by a car on his way to partake of the biscuit buffet.

While I was in Alaska, I made a point of calling my father once a week. This strikes me as something a dutiful son would do, even if he has *major* issues with his father. Once time, I told my father about the joy Wrigley brought me. The next week, I committed the unpardonable gaffe of mentioning Wrigley a second time. Dad cut me off with, “I have heard all I care to hear about that dog.” I was *steamed*. So I spent the next week keeping a very careful count of the cases that our office dealt with. The next weekend, when I called my father, and he asked me what was going on, I informed him 1) that the domestic violence case against one of my clients had been dismissed because he had finally gotten around to actually killing his commonlaw wife and was facing second-degree murder charges, 2) that a DWI client was going to get his charge dismissed because he managed to drive his snow machine over thin ice and fell into the chilly waters of a local river and drowned and 3) We had a teenage client commit suicide and 4) that someone had broken into the house of our receptionist’s parents, had beaten and raped her mother and had beaten her father so badly that it was unclear whether he would live, or, if he lived, he would spend the rest of his life in a vegetative state.

After reciting that list, there was a *long* moment of silence on the other end of the phone. I then asked my father, “Is it really so [expletive deleted] TERRIBLE that I like talking about a happy little beagle who howls for joy when he sees me?

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