Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Tales of small town life (episode three)
My maternal grandfather, named Raymond but called Joe since he was a kid, has a habit of buying things, ignoring them, and selling them in order to buy more stuff he's going to ignore. His backyard at any given moment may contain the following items, either whole or reduced to spare parts: RVs, trucks, tractors, pickups, boats, lawnmowers, a motorcycle once. He buys dogs with the same philosophy, though he waits until one dies before picking up another. I've never been too attached to my grandfather's dogs because they mostly hang out in the backyard with the revolving door of major purchases. It's easy to forget they exist. He had one dog that was unforgettable, however. This dog was named Jake, and the drawing that accompanies this post is my attempt to capture a bit of this lunatic mutt's essence. I've never seen a dog like Jake before, and I never will again. I don't remember my grandfather buying Jake, so I'm going to assume that a powerful bolt of lightning simultaneously struck a couple of dead dogs and a bunch of random shit in my grandfather's backyard, forging the tiny, ill-tempered beast we knew and loved. Jake was about the size of a three-month-old Labrador puppy, his ears stuck straight up, and he had a gummy, fangy overbite that made him look either constantly pissed off or like he had to do something vitally important in an incredibly small period of time. His eyes were wild and buggy. He was extremely fond of my sister, Katie, and my uncle Bill, and indifferent to the rest of the family and friends who were frequent visitors at my grandparents' home. Strangers, he bit. He lived a long goddamn time. One particularly harsh winter, he went missing for three below-zero days. He'd never run off before. We all assumed he'd died. My grandfather found him sleeping in a box of oily rags in the garage, simply not giving a fuck, content to be there. His most prominent attribute was his fur. Fur's not even a good word to describe it. Armor's a little more appropriate, but coat will do. It was steel wool. It was not similar to steel wool. It was steel wool. If you've ever touched steel wool, you've touched Jake. This was his fur. When I'm back home, all someone has to say is "Remember Jake?" and my brother and I will have laughing fits. He looked sort of like this photo, with more fur and determination. Jake was ugly, and proud of it. I've never admired a dog more.