Cultural Differences

March 7th, 2010

Dear J

Been an unprecedented long time without any communique from the capitol city.

From our end I remain ever in pursuit of a life of leisure. I have managed thus far to avoid carpentry in lieu of the pet hotel business. Business has been booming and hopefully we will be able to call this our means of income for a little while. Similar to any other venture there are, of course, points of interest. Most of these involve owners of pets although the pets can offer up some pretty good bits of entertainment. I had my first escaped pet. That’ll be essentially the singular thing that can under no circumstances ever happen in the pet boarding business. I spent 4 days on and off looking for the little pit bull. Finally found him and was able to regain the owner’s confidence. It would appear that the owner looked upon the dog’s absence as a sort of day care for the dog anyway. See he normally took his dog with him to work where it spent the bulk of it’s time in his van.  His van, however was in the repair shop and the one day he left the dog at home it lunched on his leather couch. When I brought the dog back to him he seemed pretty happy but more interested as to whether we would be willing to take him for the rest of the week, just until he got his vehicle back on the road again…..The dog did provide me with a minor flesh wound just below the eye in the melee that was getting him into the house.  I was taking no chances this time in the “truck to house” transfer and so I had hooked him up to a rather aggressive “training collar” as they like to call choke chains now.  The key to these collars working, of course, is to maintain enough tension on them in order to avoid having the dog slip out and “see ya later.”  So when he launched out of the truck like he’d been fired from a cannon hell bent on escape the snap of the chain came as a bit of a shock. It was like having a 60 pound exceptionally pissed of barracuda on a fishing line flopping around the inside of your boat and you find yourself thinking “Now what am I supposed to do?”.  Anyway somewhere along the line he bit me in the face.  I spent a fair bit of time with him once I got him behind the fence to try and smooth things out.  It wasn’t his fault he was so scared.  He came around quite nicely in the end.  Seems since Pit Bulls have been banned in many parts of the country they have become really popular out here where, in many cases, they seem to provide some compensation for the presence of a small dick.

With the tourist season comes one of my favorite aspects of this business,  a game I call: Language Barrier Bingo tossed in with a little Cultural Differences Recognition Study. For instance,  Friday 3 PM.  Phone rings.  Potential Customer heretofore referred to as PC, “Hello my name is______ (to be honest with you I still don’t know what her name was)How much please to board a dog?”  Me, ” What kind of dog?” PC, “a nice little dog.” Me, “A nice little neutered or spayed dog?”  PC, “Yes”  Me, “Which is it neutered or spayed?”  PC, “Neutered.”   Me,  “That’ll be a nice little male dog, correct?”   PC, “Yes.”   Me, “How about shots?”  PC,  “Yes”   Me, “We charge $30. for the first night and $25. for the second night”  PC, “How much for two nights?” Me, “Well let’s see….that comes to ah, $55.” PC, “How much time does that include exactly?” Me, “Each night represents 24 hours” PC, “So if I bring the dog in at 8 O’clock at night I can pick up the two days later at 8 o’clock at night.”  Me, “Technically yes, however we don’t like to accept dogs after 6:00 p.m. as it really upsets the group so to speak” PC, “I will be there at 7:00-7:30 at the latest”. Me, “(To myself) I guess that 6:00 o’clock thing is really of no interest to you(and then aloud) O.K. but no later because it makes a real racket and upsets the pack”. PC, “Here is my husband please give him directions.”

9:05p.m.  We’ve given up on them.  I’ve gone into town to get something and the phone rings. PC to Phyllis, “We are in town with Fluffy(yes that is the real name)how do we get to your place”? Phyllis, “I am sorry but it really is too late”. PC, “The man told me it was O.K.” 9:15.  I am back and they arrive. Me, in a loud, booming and clear voice as they prepare to get out of their car, “O.K. please don’t go up to the fences or the dogs will go nuts.”  PC, walking straight up to the fence with a Pomeranian about the size of an avocado,  “Oh look Fluffy you are going to have so much fun.” And then she said a whole bunch more useless prattle while bobbing the dog up and down like “prey” that I didn’t hear because fifteen dogs started in at once like a pack of wolves fighting over a single rabbit. I escorted her away from the fence.  PC, “My so many dogs”. Me, swatting several million mosquitoes that have made there nightly appearance, “Here is the waiver. I need you to read it and sign it”. She hands it to her husband who decides he needs to read all of it. They have brought a guest along who, in order to pass the time, saunters over to the other enclosure to see if he can’t get to know this group of dogs.   He was particularly interested in Bosco.  Bosco is a breed I had never heard of before called a Kangal. Out of Turkey that. 160 lbs. They use them to protect flocks of sheep versus herd them.  He stood as tall as the man as he put his front paws on top of the five foot fence. Me, “Please get away from the fence sir”. Sir, “Absolute Blank Stare”.   PC, “Fluffy really likes walks do you walk them?” Me, “(silently) absolutely not(aloud), Oh you betcha we do.”  PC, “But he needs to be on the leash because otherwise he won’t come home, but, if this be the case, he likes salami.  If he gets away just give him some salami and he will come right away.” “We have some on hand for just such occasions,” I say as I hand the Pomeranian to Phyllis and block the way into the trailer we call home. This is usually taken as a gesture to indicate to the customer that they are now passing the dog off to us and they should go now. Husband finally signs the waiver. Husband, “I get a copy yes?” I head in to make a copy saying, “just a minute, I’ll be right back.”   Clearly interpreting this to mean, “Come on in.”  all three follow me in and opt out of my suggestion to shut the door owing to the 3000 mosquitoes that will be bee-lining for the light source.  I close the door and hand them the copy.   With a declining chirpiness to my voice I tell them that this is all really great but we have to put the dogs to bed and they must be really tired after the long drive and all. In lieu of this suggestion PC decides she’d prefer to get to know Phyllis a bit and strikes up a conversation about bedding and salami and the like.  Meanwhile the husband, after carefully leaving the door wide open, has moseyed back outside and is having one last look at the dogs.  He has undoubtedly noticed that when you do this they all mass at the fence like a school of fish and bark.  He has not, however, noticed the sign he is standing in front of which reads,  “Stay Away From the Fence!”

Finally on their own time and oblivious to all hints to hurry the fuck up, they finally amble back to their car.  Here, for some mysterious reason, they remain for about 10 minutes before they manage to actually drive away.

We don’t like new dogs to arrive too late in the day because it is nice for them to have a bit of time to settle in before we shut the place down for the night.  It would be sorta like kicking your kid out of a moving vehicle with a note pinned to his shirt in front of the Day Care Center for his first day of preschool in terms of instilling calm.  All things considered Fluffy managed quite well.  See many of these probable puppy mill victims don’t always gel so well with the “fitting in” process.  Some, feeling the trauma, like to walk right in the house,  take a dump, maybe pee a few times while you clean up the shit and then sit in a corner and snarl at you when you try to move them elsewhere.  During the “moving elsewhere” process, which often requires protective clothing, they aren’t against expelling the entirety of their anal glands onto you and maybe the wall if they are good at it. Smells real nice that-like sticking your head up a cow’s incontinent ass maybe. No Fluffy seemed really happy to just sit there and shake.  After about an hour of this I ventured an introduction to the Jack Russell and the Lhasa Apso that were visiting only to find it threw Fluffy into what looked like an epileptic seizure so we removed him from the group. Other than that the dog was as easy to look after as a can of pop in the refrigerator.

As they were leaving I foolishly mentioned to the Owners, “I have to bring a dog down to near your hotel on Sunday at about 1 o’clock but I have to confirm this. If that works for you I can save you a trip.” They seemed not to hear.  Saturday morning 9:00 a.m. They have called twice. “Is Fluffy OK and what time are you coming down on Sunday?”  “Fluffy is great(as great as one can be after spending the first 12 hours of its holiday staring into space)and I haven’t heard back from the other customer but, as I said, it will probably be about 1:00p.m. Saturday 10:45 p.m. “How is Fluffy and what time are you coming down on Sunday?”  Me, “I don’t know yet.” Sunday 7:45 a.m. I let the machine pick it up, The message said, “It would be good if you could be here by 11:00 a.m. because that is when we have to check out of the hotel.” I call them at 9:00.  I tell them that I spoke to our customer and I won’t be coming down until 3. This is not well received.  I don’t care.

And that Mr. J is how you can make yourself a quick $55.00 in your spare time.

Give us some news J even if you must write with a pen in your mouth owing to the straight jacket confining you.



The Beginning

February 11th, 2010

Dear R. via email

This was to be a letter. One placed in the mail and allowed the adventure that passage via the post must entail. My $60 printer whose ink cartridges cost $70 has seized up, no doubt, partially because space in our 4 by 4 foot “office” is limited placing it only inches from the full heat of the wood stove. It currently yields nothing more than nearly blank sheets of paper. Mind, based on how often you said you checked your email perhaps this will take the same amount of time to get to you.

I am just recovering from a freak accident which occurred as I was trying to stop a completely soaking wet dog from running amok through the house. I lunged forward to grab the fucker, who was on to me by now, and I slipped enough to miss the dog but stopped dead hooking my hip on the corner bead part of a corner in the wall. Nearly puked I did. Turns out one of the things I am involved in these days is called, “Barksville” This is owing in no small part to also being involved with the proprietress. She had split with her guy and started this as a way to make some cash. The people give you $20 a day plus the dog’s food and you keep it alive for 24 hours. Normally it is a reasonable trade except in the monsoon season which is upon us. Then the keeping them alive part becomes a test of patience.

This all started about the time L and I split up. The L and I split up is a relatively involved story but you saw a lot of it back when we were working together. There were a few broken camel’s back instances which brought about the split but essentially I believe L was never going to be happy with who I was both personally and how I affected her own sense of security. Given the opportunity she would have spent the rest of her life trying to change that. For my part that became excruciatingly tedious. So when she decided she wanted to have sex with a Mexican peasant, that pretty well sealed the deal. For a long time I was one of those guys that was certain that if I just persevered everything would eventually iron itself out. I’m pretty well over that now.

And so it is and as 50 looms, I find myself in a 14′ wide x 67′ long circa 1972 Mabco mobile trailer home. It is located, or more accurately surrounded, by an Indian reserve which, amongst other things, is known for having one of the highest per capita rates of type 2 diabetes in the country. Owing to the convergence of four or five rivers and excessive global warming the land around our our home occasionally floods bringing water to just about the doorstep. Not every house around here is subject to this type of flooding but then not every house was in our price range. A large and imposing mountain provides the focal point for the valley we live in though for upwards of 3 weeks on either side of the winter solstice it essentially blocks any direct sunlight to many properties in the community including ours. Some find this to have a deleterious effect on mental health-a good time to travel south. On a bright note, this place has a really nice view. This shady time of year is a time not to set your sights too high and so that is what I am doing by starting to write a few things down.

Directly across from me is a massive Bernese Mountain Dog, two French Bulldogs, five dogs of indetermined lineage and, lastly, a pestilent Jack Russell Terrier who is not good around small children. The Terrier has climbed up on the couch alongside the Bernese and dug herself into the protection of his belly. His tail serves as a bit of a boa for her added comfort as well as stylistic flair. One of these, not the Bernese, has recently shit on the floor but no one is fessing up. I say not the Bernese because when the Bernese provides a stool sample it is about the size of anyone of these other dogs. They are all quiet. This is a slow day.

I trust all is well with you and yours,


A bit of an introduction

I don’t have the focus to be much of a storyteller in the oral tradition. I tend to leap about subjects and add irrelevant bits. I drift occasionally so far from the original subject that I lose even myself. Alternatively, in order to tell a story, sometimes I like to write to people. I write letters or emails, filled mostly with mundane, day to day anecdotal drivel. I obviously get some satisfaction in doing this though I can’t really articulate what it is. I don’t do it so much hoping for a response but, for whatever reason, it helps me get started. It is nice when people respond but that’s not what it’s about. I knew a guy who wrote in a journal nearly everyday. I once asked him about it and he said he always addressed everything he wrote to his father. He wanted to share a bit of his life with his old man. As his dad had been dead for several years he had obviously cut himself a bit of slack. He didn’t have to concern himself with editing, spelling or trying to sound a particular way. He could just write about what he felt. It seemed as good a way as any. I often wondered what he wrote about. Mind you, I wondered what my mother wrote about as she scribbled away every night under a cloud of cigarette smoke filling little steno pads only to find that the bulk consisted of irrelevant things about the weather, a tardy bus, a sale at the supermarket or a phone call she had made(not the subject matter just a note of the call). She left at least 20 years of such data piled high in that apartment. My mother was lonely. I believe she wrote more to keep her hands busy and her mind quiet then to gain some enlightenment or to set anything straight. It served her purpose. Because I write, sometimes a lot, occasionally somebody will joke, “You should put this all together in a book.” I’m not falling for that one again.

You see, I cook a lot. A guy’s gotta eat so you might as well make an effort. Occasionally people would say, “You know, you should really open a restaurant.” So I did…….the day my kid was almost 4 months old. My wife, who was not thinking rationally due to a yet to be diagnosed bout of postpartum depression, appeared supportive at the time. I was sick of my job anyway. So everything we had was poured into a derelict building and off I went. After a couple years of making almost 50 dollars a week and painstakingly sowing the seeds for my eventual divorce I grew to think that I might have acted a little hastily. Despite the struggles, these were a couple of really good years and if nothing else I ate really well. Everyone did. Most importantly, I still like to cook. I believe writing is similar to cooking in the sense that if you choose to do it for a living you will most likely be broke. So best not attempt it as a living. Instead I am thinking to write about what I do for a living. In order not to burn out too many that I have written to in the past as well as maintain an impersonal non-attachment I am going to explore the blog format. I certainly won’t over advertise the undertaking. That’s it mom, I am going to write to nobody in particular. If it’s of any interest to anyone they can read it. If not, no harm done. It’s not as if I mortgaged the house to buy this computer. And chances are whenever I decide to pack this project in I will still enjoy writing.

Some notes on the content

Due to a series of unforeseen events I find myself sharing the helm of a small but active dog boarding business. It provides a constant stream of noteworthy incidents involving dogs, their owners, and the relationships between the two. Since this makes up the bulk of my day to day activities it would follow that that is what I will write about. (And, as things progress, I will try and get a handle on if it is necessary that that sentence should read, “that that is about which I will write). I am going to be a bit evasive as to details and the like as most of the things I find funny or worth talking about are completely one sided and at the expense of other people. Also I am not against overlooking 50 great qualities of a person in order to focus on one or two less flattering aspects if I think they are more funny or interesting-often to the point that the person becomes more of an obscure concept than a real being and I guess that’s not really fair. I always assume everyone behaves this way but I am told this is not necessarily so. Therefore, for the purpose of all of this, consider it, for the most part, fiction. In the past most of the people I have written to live at least 1000 miles from that about which I write. This serves as a bit of a provisional measure against having someone who I have made out to be a complete imbecile(not that they aren’t a complete imbecile just that most take exception to being called one)come knocking at my door. So to this end, the business is called “Barksville”, located somewhere in North America. I was going to pick New Zealand but the accent is really difficult and people might confuse it with Australia.  For the purpose of this I will refer to myself as, “Kyle” and my wife and partner as, “Phyllis”

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