A voice for Whiskey


I told Sweet Al I needed new material for my weekly column. Maybe I’ll showcase his beloved dog again.
He said, “Your giving her her own voice? I can hardly wait to hear what you’re going to say.”
“You may want to reconsider that thought; I can hardly wait to hear what I have to say, also.”
One thing is for certain. No one is just going to lay around this house and expect to be fed. Writing about Whiskey will not make me love her any more or less. But since every writer needs a muse, it appears now she has a job.
In truth, Whiskey is her master’s companion. He sits, she sits. He stands, she stands. He eats, she eats. Put on his shoes? She is by the front door ready to roll.
So sweet? No. She has disrupted my life. I raised four kids, drove a school bus while my Sweet Al was away on business and taught painting classes to supplement our income. Now, I watch an 80-pound dog maneuver between the yard and my bedroom, leaving a trail of muddy paw prints and black hair on my rose-colored carpet.
Sweet Al looks at me and shakes his head, then endearingly looks back at Whiskey. “The poor baby, she doesn’t even talk to you.”
“She hears me just fine. She even hears me when I’m not speaking to her.” So, I write. Maybe this can be my way of dealing with some sort of unresolved conflict toward her.
I don’t know why I have such a problem with her. No one else seems to have a problem. Maybe she just needs to be given a voice. Then again, she has a voice, a big, loud voice.” In fact, her outside voice is the same as her inside voice. Whether she is on the land or standing at the bay window in the dining room, her voice can be heard anytime anyone drives by.
My Sweet Al says, “She is the best watchdog I ever had. No one will get on the property without me knowing it.”
I would have settled for a doorbell and been just as happy.
Every time I pull into my own driveway, there she is, and everyone in earshot will know it, too. I’ve come to accept that I am not the master of this domain. But when it comes to my new car, Whiskey better not jump up on the door or everyone on the Lower Blanco will hear my voice. “That’s rule No. 4.”
My Sweet Al slaps his chest and Whiskey all but jumps in his arms. He talks baby talk to her and scratches her head.
There will be no baby talk from me, no chest-slapping-induced embrace. You don’t even have to follow all of my rules, just the ones that matter.
Wonder where the doghouse built for two came from? One time my Sweet Al used my kitchen scissors to clip Whiskey’s nails. Need I say more?
I wonder why Whiskey isn’t more like my son’s dog, Reyna. Her name means queen. Whiskey’s name means fermented grain mash — which is known to start a few fights.
My son takes his dog to the day spa. She gets bathed, blow dried and brushed. She gets her nails clipped and always smells good. On the non-spa days, my son brushes her long, golden coif with a special brush made just for her.
I guess there isn’t much difference in reality. When Whiskey needs a bath, she just jumps in the Blanco River behind the house. I doubt she needs a blow out. A good shake and she is as dry as a bone. And if anything ever were to get lodged in her wiry hair, a run through the weeds will comb out anything that tangles.
I don’t think I am as harsh as I may sound. Dare I say I could even love a dog if it didn’t lick, didn’t whine and didn’t bark every time the grass blows. Just stay out of my way and off my couch and we may be OK.
Final brushstroke: The Slade house is definitely a doghouse. I guess a shot of Whiskey isn’t so bad. She’s become an acquired taste. Besides, I have a choice: “nurse it down … or live with a hangover.”
Readers’ comments
Send in your comments to betty@bettyslade.com.
I heard from several people who loved Whiskey’s article. Here is J. Davis’s comment from Prescott, Ariz.: “Loved your article on Whiskey! It made me chuckle and it put a smile on my face. I’m thinking Whiskers is a good backup for Sweet Al. I would love to hear more about the adventures of the Slade dog. The tug-of-war love affair or the triangle-love affair. Good job!”
Judy from Pagosa approached me and said she was so involved in Whiskey’s story, she forgot she was a dog: “I loved the article. Please write more and write a book from Whiskey’s perceptive.”