KIDS ARE BUILT TO WITHSTAND TINY parenting deficiencies. Take mine, for example. My girls were around 8 when they realized the doorbell wasn’t just a Pizza Delivery Alert system after all. I’d forgotten to mention that.
Then there was the Girl Scouts thing. When my daughter earned her new sewing patch — which Mommy painstakingly hot glued to her vest — they celebrated with a candlelight ceremony. The scouts always celebrate around campfires or some form of open flame. Every girl held a candle, but my daughter’s patches were the only ones melting into the wax. Go figure.
Somehow, my kids survived. And forgave. But if any harm ever comes to Clyde the mastiff, my first grand-dog, there would be no redemption.
You may remember Clyde, the 165-pound, lumbering, drooling dogasauras who stays with me whenever my daughter deploys to a distant sand trap.
The gigantic beast has a 34-inch neck. His other doggie parts are equally huge, so most of him is pretty indestructible. Except for his tail.
Mastiffs have a this thing called “happy tail.” Like most canines, they wag their tails when their tax refund comes. But Clyde’s tail is special. It’s a steel-reinforced Weapon of Mastiff Destruction. One wag can shatter lamps, demolish walls and send bystanders flying. And Clyde loves to wag.
On Saturday afternoon, we noticed a tiny drop of blood on the tip of his tail. A heartbeat later, he was splattering red glop from floor to cathedral ceiling. With every wag, our living room looked more like the set of a Freddy Krueger movie.
You’re probably aware of the canine agreement all dogs sign stating that no canine can have an emergency during the vet’s regular office hours. We had no idea where to take him when his tail started gushing like a fire hose.
I panicked. “Please, Clyde,” I begged. “Nice, bloody doggie. Don’t die on my watch.”
Jumping on his back, I called for reinforcements. (Clyde is actually two dogs. His hindquarters occupy one universe and his head takes up another.) I struggled to apply pressure to his tail — which was still wagging. Meanwhile Hub wrapped his arms around Clyde’s neck to keep his massive head from investigating the universe I was riding. All of our eight limbs were pretzeled around the gyrating beast in a furry game of Twister. We only needed four more arms to Google “emergency vet” and dial the phone that was last seen upstairs.
That night, a groggy Clyde came home minus two surgically removed tailbones. A cone roughly the size of Jupiter surrounded that monstrous neck of his. He was a pretty good sport about it until the drugs wore off.
Clyde was lying in my art studio when he decided the cone had to go. He stood up and began ferociously wagging his wounded tail and coned head. Slamming into the shelves storing my bead collection, he scooped up every box and launched millions of carefully sorted, color-coded beads into orbit. Our little dogs rejoiced as Clyde rained ingestible objects on them like manna from heaven.
Years from now, we’ll still be picking beads out of the molding. But that’s minor. The important thing is that Clyde healed, and my daughter never measured his tail.
But if it had fallen off, I could have glued it back on.
Jan A. Igoe, writer and illustrator, has never claimed to be a chef, housekeeper or seamstress. But you can leave a mastiff with her any time. Write Jan at HumorMe@SCLiving.coop.