So, earlier today I was moseying down the street making my usual rounds. As I got in front of the Greenblatt’s house, the front door flew open and out shot Snowball, the fluffy white cat who lives there. Mrs. Greenblatt was at the front door yelling and shaking her fist and saying something about her floor, and what Snowball shouldn’t be doing on it. About 6 feet out the door and down the steps he stopped short and began grooming himself, letting her and anyone else who might be watching know that he was totally nonplussed about being chased out of the house. Nothing wrong here. After a while he wandered over to me and we hung out for a little while. I asked him what was going on, and he told me that there is a possum in the house. She must’ve wandered in earlier in the day when someone had left the door open. He had left her hiding under the bed in the master bedroom. There are little piles of possum poo in several locations already, and a puddle here and there. Snowball was getting blamed for this. I wished him well and moved along until I got to the Johnson’s place. The sun was shining on their front stoop, one of my favorite places to curl up and enjoy being myself. One of the particularly best aspects of that stoop was the opportunity to torment Pookie, the Johnson’s little white terrier-ish sort of dog who was given to shrill yapping and bouncing whenever I assumed my rightful position in the sunshine. Of course, he was inside with the storm door between us. I always made a point of acting as though I didn’t even know he was there, 3 feet away from me, shrieking in dog, “I’ll kill you, Get off my stoop!, I’ll kill you!” It was such a pleasure, and I thanked God once again, as we cats all do daily, for not having made me a dog. Even though it was February, it was quite a warm day. The birds were going crazy falling in love and making babies, singing their joyful songs. I dozed off, and at some point Pookie had lost interest in me and had wandered off probably to lick himself. Everybody has their little problems, but I could feel a troubled undertone in my world. People seem more angry than they used to. I’m not sure exactly why, but all was not well in Happy Meadows.I wonder if it has something to do with Donk.

In my last post I told you about “Donk” Donkle, that guy who bought the swamp and built this mansion on the last lot in the subdivision by the swamp. He had gotten mad about the grief that the homeowners association had given him when he bought his place, especially the huge archway at the end of the driveway with the word “DONK” in huge letters atop it. After much of a kerfuffle, he had moved the archway to the head of a new driveway on the old swamp property that wasn’t actually part of the subdivision. But he didn’t lose gracefully, and decided that he would run for president of the homeowners association. He told everybody that he wanted to make Happy Meadows great again. He wanted to convert it to a gated community to keep the riffraff out and protect the residents and their property. He also wanted to establish restrictions on only allowing certain real estate agents to transact business in the subdivision. He wanted to hire our own security guards. (When this homeowners thing got cranked up, it made me realize that I had not seen any campaign signs in a long time. Remember, I told you that there was this big fuss about a selection earlier in the winter. Normally I see all kinds of signs and bumper stickers with people supporting candidates. Nothing of the sort this year. There must not have been much interest in the selection until after it was over.) I’m pretty sure that he’ll get his way about being president of the homeowners association, because they usually have to beg somebody to take the job. I don’t think it’s going to have much effect on me and it probably won’t change anybody else’s life very much either. So, he’ll get his way, but it won’t make him happy. Nothing does. I know people like him. No matter how much money and fancy stuff they accumulate, and no matter how much praise they generate, they are never satisfied. All this grandiosity and arrogance is a cover-up for a greater sense of inadequacy. It’s like trying to fill a bottomless pit of need. You can buy a lot of friends but you can’t make anyone love you. Mike said that he’s not going to say anything to anyone but me, but he’s pretty sure that Mr. Donkle doesn’t even live in the subdivision because his house was built where the swamp was. Somebody else might bring it up if they want to challenge his authority on something if there is a controversy. It should be pretty funny.


So, next week is the annual neighborhood “Ugly Dog” contest in my neighborhood.  No, really. An ugly dog contest. There are not too many rules. In order to enter you have to live in our neighborhood, and you have to be a dog. For the last several years it was won by a little dachshund-chihuahua mix, named Beezer (or bezoar). She is a mess, with her long white coat, brown spots, goofy floppy ears (a spaniel in her background?), and a stubby, crooked tail. It is her silly grin that propelled her to victory, as there was plenty of dog ugliness to compete with. I mean that in the best possible sense. But this year she was defeated by Joker, a new dog in the ‘hood. Joker is a stocky medium sized girl with a shaggy black coat, buggy eyes, ears that are way too small for her head, and a tongue too large for her mouth.  It sticks out to the side, twisted up to the left in a plump, pink, knot.She lives with a family that has four other dogs, all big, white, male German shepherds. Their owner is a big guy who bought the last lot in the subdivision a couple of years ago. Nobody else wanted the lot because it was at the far end of the subdivision, and next to a swamp. But he bought the lot and the swamp, put in a lake and a 3-hole golf course, stocked the lake with bass, and built an oversized white house in the back of the property. In the process he fought with the city, the county, the neighborhood association, and several contractors. There were a total of seventeen lawsuits filed, most of them against him for not paying his assessments and his contractors. He calls himself a businessman, but he seems to me to be more of a rich bully. His name is Dick Donkle. When his father emigrated from Poland to this country his name was not Donkle. He was Zbigniew Bogdonivietsky. When he arrived at Ellis Island he was greeted by Charlie Davis, a customs official who was in a sour mood. It is impossible to know why. Maybe his baby had been throwing up all  night; maybe he had lost his paycheck in a poker game; maybe his wife was getting it on with the milkman. Whatever his situation, he was in no mood for the imperiousness of Zbigniew Bogdonivietsky. He expected the immigrants to be meek, humble, soft-spoken, grateful, and awe-stricken with their first opportunity to meet a real natural-born American, their feet on actual American turf. But not this character. He was impatient, demanding, loud, and full of entitlement. Not that Charlie understood a word of the Polish that he was being assailed with, but the attitude was unmistakably arrogant. This horse’s rear end was acting as though he was more important than Charlie Davis. He picked the wrong guy on the wrong day to carry on like that. So, Zbigniew Bogdonivietsky left Ellis Island that afternoon as Zbigniew Bogdonkey. Once Zbig discovered  the mischief, he went to a Manhattan telephone book, did some research, went to the courthouse, and became Zbig Donkle. Time went on, and he bought a building, sold it, bought 2 more buildings, sold them, bought 4 more buildings, sold them, and well, you get the geometric progression. So  one day he was rich, and took great satisfaction in his presumption that that jerk at Ellis Island was living the same miserable life that he had the day they had met years earlier.

Now, Zbig was fortunate enough to meet a lovely Polish woman in New York, and marry her. Her name was Wanda. They had 3 children, the oldest of whom was Zbig Junior. Junior had gone to school and studied business, so he could do like his daddy did and own a great many buildings. In school he was a little self-conscious about his Polish given name, but he liked the “Z” because it was distinctive, so he called himself Zip. Zip Donkle was undistinguished as a student, but he had a certain charm and made friends easily. Unfortunately (I guess) he had a way of ticking people off, and he unmade friends as easily as he attracted people to him. Well, one day one of his ex-friends referred to him as Unzip, and it stuck. So Zip Donkle had to make an entirely new set of friends, changed his given name to Richard,and took on the nickname “Donk.” Thus did Zbigniew Zip Unzip Donkle become Richard “Donk” Donkle. As Donk, he was immensely pleased with himself. In fact, one of the run-ins he had with the Homeowners Association in our neighborhood had to do with the huge archway he had erected at the end of his driveway with the word “Donk” across the top in enormous lettering. The HOA board tried to make him take down the structure because it violated the covenants. He fought with them in court for a few months until the HOA bank account was down to it’s last few dollars, and then had the monstrosity moved to a new entrance that was part of the drained swamp property, and not in the actual subdivision.

Well, back to Joker and the ugly dog contest. She won last year’s contest easily, but Beezer still garnered a few votes from the sentimental residents who adored her. Donk angrily demanded a recount, even though Joker had won. The results were unchanged, so Donk went home and had a clubhouse built twice the size of the neighborhood clubhouse, with an olympic-sized pool and twelve tennis courts that nobody ever used except for his kids and a few of their rich friends who jetted in from Switzerland or wherever. The animals in the neighborhood all thought this was quite funny. It took very little effort to convince the flocks of grackles and starlings to congregate at the Donk estate daily and crap all over his place, especially on the tasteless archway.  I’ll tell you more about Donk and some of the other characters that live here another time.  It’s a good thing that our Creator gave us a sense of humor. Otherwise I would be insane.

Oh, I have an idea! Why don’t we have our own ugly dog contest. You can send your entries here, and I can post them. My thousands of readers can vote on the dozens of entries.  Maybe we can put the winning doggie on T-shirts for prizes. I would like to put up a picture of Joker, but he is being kept in seclusion, and I would have to get past too many German shepherds to risk it. Sorry.


So, as I was walking home this afternoon from my inspection of the neighborhood, once again I found Nevermore stretched out in the middle of the street, sunning herself. This is not the most intelligent behavior imaginable, even for a dog; but the people who drive down this street know her tendencies. So she has yet to be hit by a car, no thanks to herself. But it got me to thinking about black dogs.  Not everyone is aware that black dogs are euthanized at a much higher rate than lighter-colored dogs, because they seem to be passed over by potential adopters, consciously or unconsciously, because of their blackness.  In the British Isles, in particular, there is an extensive folklore about black ghost dogs that haunt locales, and bring about sickness and death to the people who live in their environs. This mythology was the basis for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story, “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” which featured a monstrously big, vicious, coal black dog. In fact, the color black is heavily represented in folklore and mythology as representing evil, Satan, the devil, and death. In the animal world we make no distinction of value based on color. (Dogs, poor things, can’t even distinguish color, just levels of brightness, and shades of gray.) But people, with their  limited spiritual and moral awareness, seem to make color an issue of significance. You may have read the poem “The Raven”, by Edgar Allen Poe. It is a famous, wonderfully musical poem that deals with the grief of a young man whose girl friend, Lenore, has died. He wants to stop thinking about her, and at the same time  he wants to know if they can be reunited in Heaven. He is visited in the middle of the night by a large black bird, a raven, who comes tap, tap, tapping at his door. He thinks the bird is a prophet that can answer his questions, but all the bird will say is “Nevermore.”  There are strong undertones of mystery, death, and evil in the poem.  It can hardly not be noticed that the bird is black. If the bird was white, green, or blue, it wouldn’t be the same poem. If the name of the poem was  “The Great White Heron”, or “The Black-throated Blue Warbler”,  nobody would ever read it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that black cats also are passed over at shelters and subject to a higher risk of euthanasia. Black and brown people seem to also be subjected to being discriminated against. For example, many years ago when Michelle was in the 3rd grade she was passed over by her (white) teacher and not recommended to participate in the honors class. She told her (brown) mother who marched down to the school and demanded to know why the teacher didn’t think she was smart enough. Michelle was tested, and got into the class. I am not exactly sure how smart Michelle is, but I do know she is smart enough to be a professor at a major university. Racial and ethnic differences have the potential to make life so interesting, but also lead to discrimination and wickedness, as often people that have power fear that people unlike them will take over or at least take some of what they are trying to hold on to. Competition for limited resources is the basis of all political struggles.

But back to black dogs. I have heard a rumor (I can’t reveal my source) that animal control is considering making all black dogs register. They claim that it is only to help them document the population needs, trends, etc., but on the streets we suspect a more nefarious motive. I have strong feelings about this, not so much because I am crazy about black dogs (or any dogs), but more because it is morally corrupt to stigmatize groups based on such a superficial characteristic (or for any other reason). And if this is allowed, the next thing would be an attempt to register black cats. I am certain there are people who would sleep well at night if all the black cats in the world were exterminated. So, I have decided to speak out. My first step is by writing this piece. I also plan to be first in line to register as a black dog if the program (I almost wrote pogrom) is instituted. Mike told me he will take me down to animal control to register, and I think he will register himself as well. We are not going to take this lying down, in the middle of the street or anywhere else. I invite you to join me.