She calls me ugly


“My master’s wife says I’m ugly. But, she smiled at me the other day. I think she’s warming up to me.”
Sweet Al’s dog basked in the sun and dreamed about her master and days on the Lower Blanco.
“My name is Whiskey. I have a full face of whiskers, more hair on my face than on my whole body. I’m a mixture of a black Labrador and German wire-haired pointer.
“Today, I’m feeling loved.
“I came through the back door into the Slade family. The woman of the house didn’t want me, but her husband thought he needed a good hunting dog. I don’t know why. He’s too old to hunt, but still dreams of his hunting days. He tells everyone the reason for my big nose. I have the best nose in the county for flushing out pheasants.
“He fell in love with me the minute he saw me. I was the cutest puppy he could ever imagine. My nine brothers and sisters didn’t pay any attention to him, but I saw a kind man. I ran up to him and licked his fingers. He chose me and I became Sweet Al’s loyal companion.
“His wife tolerates me because she loves Sweet Al. I get to see and hear everything that goes on from my place under the kitchen table. When my master’s kids come by, they refer to me as ‘the grand dog’ and call Sweet Al’s wife Grandma. I’m not sure why, but this makes her bristle, her eyes flash red with fury and then she huffs around with disgust.
“My master is retired and a putter. He putts around from the house to the barn. He hits his head on beams and hammers his thumbs. I stay out of his way but always close enough in case he needs me.
“Animals can sense when people get sick. A couple years back, Sweet Al got so sick I had to stay by his side night and day. I thought I was going to lose him. I was really worried.
“It took a couple of months for him to get well. Meanwhile, I was moving into the bedroom inch by inch. Grandma was worried about her rose-colored carpet, so she moved in a dog bed just for me. I slept by my master’s bed and that’s where I sleep today.
“Every morning, I wake up first and I slap my master’s side of the bed. He rolls over and strokes me. Grandma says he used to roll over and stroke her every morning like that.
“She says she doesn’t want to eat every meal with dogs eating from the table. So, I lay quietly by their feet. They talk and I listen. My master loves me so much, but sometimes gets me in trouble. How can I resist when he feeds me a piece of meat from his plate? He breaks Grandma’s No. 1 rule and makes up his own. I hear about it, but I play dumb. His loves means more to me than her scorn.
“When Uncle Stephen came home with Reyna, I felt threatened and barked at her. She disrupted my peaceful home. When he introduced me to her, he called her ‘the pretty one.’
“So she has long, flowing golden hair and a pointed nose … I’m not impressed.
“She’s a golden retriever with papers who wears a strand of pearls instead of a collar. Born in the Philippines, she is well-traveled and speaks three languages: Tagalog, Visayan and English. I don’t know what the big deal is, I’ve been to Albuquerque a couple of time and even went to Durango once to get a haircut. As far as language, I know ‘get in the truck’ and ‘let’s eat.’ What more do I need to know?
“Uncle Stephen believes Reyna is the finest dog ever. She gets by with murder when he’s around. Just like when she gets up on the couch. Grandma’s No. 2 rule is no animals on the furniture. She even puts bolster pillows across the couch to keep us off. The other day I wanted to see how it felt. I climbed on the sofa and moved the pillows slightly.
“With an eagle eye, Grandma came unglued. She told Sweet Al that his dog got up on her couch. Reyna didn’t get into trouble, but I did.
“My master rubs my ears, squeezes my face and ruffles my coarse, wiry hair. He tells me I’m so ugly I’m pretty. Between you and me, I think I am much prettier than Reyna. My master tells me I am. From his one good eye, love is truly in the eye of the beholder.
“Aunt Angel brings her dog, Daisy, to the house. She’s the alpha dog in the family. She eats my food and wanders into my master’s bedroom. I growl, show my teeth and stand my ground. She comes at me and Grandma yells. ‘I can’t stand dogs fighting in my bedroom. Get out, get out!’
“He talks baby talk to me and tells his wife he sees love in my eyes. She says, ‘That’s just the look of hunger.’
“My master loves me, this I know, because my master tells me so. I think I’m going to heaven one day. There is nothing that can come between him and me. Not even his long-living wife, who is counting my dog years with her human years.
“My Aunt Allison told Grandma that all dogs go to heaven. ‘You do know that even after you die, you are going to see Whiskey again?’ For some reason, she almost choked right on the spot.”
Final brushstroke: Whiskey is here to stay, but I’m not a drinker. So if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, or in my case, write about ‘em.
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