Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Release the hounds

Everyone who knows John and Heather can appreciate how much they love dogs. So, in a way, it is appropriate that our two encounters with killer canine were visited upon them. Call it the revenge of Riley and Quinn.

On Saturday, as we headed west, we turned down a lane so that John could shoot some scenery. Heather got out of the car too. Carol and Tom, being somewhat jaded perhaps, stayed in the car. While John, cap turned backward, snapped away, Heather ambled down the lane a bit. Without warning, a large black farm dog bounded out of the brush. The dog startled Heather, who began to make her way gingerly back toward the car. Clearly the dog was deliriously happy about having some human contact, indifferent to the reluctance on the part of the human. Heather ‘s every move back to the vehicle was diplomatic, sort of like a woman trying to move away from a drunk friend in a bar. For his part, the dog became even more enamored. His muddy paws left brown prints on her jeans. And poor Heather, as she finally eased into the backseat, smelled a little like a swamp mutt who’d been left out in the rain.

Monday, on our way toward the nearby sea, we stopped at a castle ruin. Across the road from a most impressive ruin, we spied more spires over the tree line. As John stepped out of the car about a dozen different dogs raced toward him, baring their fangs. As the lead dog was about to get the taste of fresh American ankle, John was able to pull himself back into the car. With all of us safely inside, we ventured forward. A woman came up to us as we rolled through a courtyard that clearly dated back to centuries ago. We had seen no “private property” signs, but still we apologized. The woman smiled. She said it was no problem. “Can we get out and take some pictures?’’ we asked. She smiled again, but shook her head. “Oh, I wouldn’t. Cross dogs.’’ None of us had ever heard the expression “cross dogs’’ before, but we knew enough catechism to know that “cross dogs’’ was not old Irish slang for Christian dogs.

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