If There Was a Book About George, He’d Eat It



This morning I ran across some pictures of George.

On a warm, lazy day in August 1994, I answered an ad in the newspaper for a puppy. My son was with with me. He had just graduated from High School, both of my parents had died within three months of each other, and I was starting a new job.

Transitions. George was a transition dog.

The bitch had built the nest for her puppies in the crawl space of a home that was over one hundred years old. When I asked to see the puppies, they pointed to the crawlspace. The father gruffly said, “They’re under there.”

I have an inherent fear of dark, enclosed spaces. Spaces that are usually filled with webs, and the spiders that live in them, and the bugs that get caught within them. The house was built pillar and post with no surrounding foundation. I could see under the house enough to see a large nest, filled with squirming pups. It was about twenty feet in, the mother dog was suckling her pups. I not only was wary for the things I couldn’t see, but the mother dog protecting her nest. No way was I going to climb in a confined space with her. I didn’t know the size of spiders’ teeth, but I had a good idea of what a collie’s teeth could do.

I whistled and patted the ground. I got the attention of one of the pups.

“They haven’t been played with much. They aren’t too comfortable around people.”

The puppy came near, sniffing the air to catch my scent. When he would get close, he would dart away. It was a game to him. Sniff, come near, turn and run. On one of those parries, I grabbed for his tail. He didn’t know what to think of that, and whirled around and bit me. I caught his full body while his teeth were still holding tightly to my hand, and pulled him into the light of day.

Once in my arms, he settled down. The bite was merely a scratch though puppy teeth are incredibly sharp. “You bite me, you’re mine!” I told him sternly. He bit me again.

“I’ll take him.”

That’s when I noticed that our male puppy was actually a female. Still, that didn’t change our choice of name. By the time we were halfway home, we had settled on the name George, and the complicated gender role ‘he’ acquired because of ‘his’ name. George never complained.

Half collie and half German shepherd/Doberman/Mystery, George had a very long snout and a curiosity that was challenging to say the least. He ate three TV remotes, two pairs of glasses, the arm off the recliner, and a glass filled with milk. Nothing stopped him from sampling life to the highest degree, not even Shadow, our six-year-old Golden Retriever. Try, though she did, to train him, he was incorrigible, and went his own way from day one.

When I brought her home (keep up with the gender, people) from her spay, she escaped and ran through the swamp, frolicked in the mud and came in looking like the creature from the dark lagoon. The stitches held, I bathed her, and hoped for the best. Although the vet was livid, no harm came to her, and she healed with just the normal scar. She smiled through it all.

She spent several years at my son’s house protecting his property from vandals and thieves while he was at work. She also was a clever escape artist. There was no building, no fence, no gate she could not weasel her way out of. Years later, when I boarded her, she got out of her enclosure and spent the entire Sunday night visiting the other dogs. I’m sure she coerced them into giving her their food and toys. They found her the next morning in the break room. I suspect she ate their cookies and left overs out of the refrigerator. Yes, she knew how to open that as well.

She was an avid reader. Whenever she found a book lying about, she would devour it. She loved them. One book I had to buy three times. She ate it three times. What can I say? She had good taste in books.

It was early one Easter morning that I discovered her true gift. I called George for breakfast, but there was no dog. As I said, she could escape anything; it was futile to try to contain her. But that morning, she didn’t come when she was called. Since it involved food, I was surprised. I set her dish down, and walked into the front yard to call into the woods. There were several brightly colored things scattered across the lawn. Plastic eggs opened, that had once contained Easter candy. Along with the plastic eggshells were real eggshells also brightly dyed that had once contained hard-boiled eggs. Eaten. As I looked up, I saw George trotting down the driveway with more Easter treasures. Stolen, I was sure, out of one of the neighbor’s yard arranged for some child’s Easter egg hunt. The Easter bunny had been foiled. I wondered how many eggs had been left for the children to find. Not many, I suspected. So many crestfallen, disappointed children. So many bewildered parents/grandparents. One very happy satiated dog. I had to keep her in on Easter mornings lest the fiasco would repeat itself. But then, there is no way to know how many Easters mornings George had destroyed for this family. I never found out. I live seventy miles away now, and feel somewhat safe in posting her misbehavior.

Since she was an expert at getting out, she was also very talented for getting in. I saw her lugging something heavy up the hill behind our house one day. Woods surrounded us, and a creek bordered that side of our property. At first, my stomach fell, thinking what I was seeing was my dog dragging an animal up the hill. A small deer? A large cat? A snipe? She stopped to catch her breath every few feet. Whatever it was, was very heavy. I went out to greet her and discovered a ten-pound bag of dog biscuits stolen from a neighbor’s garage or car. Nothing was safe after that. Not even the neighbor’s dog. He was kept in a kennel, yet George was able to somehow open it and set him free. Together they would scour the neighborhood for treasures. He took to her bad habits enthusiastically.

When a neighborhood dog ambushed and viciously attacked her, she bore her wounds with no complaint. She showed off her scars with pride. Brave animal. I learned a lot from her.

When we moved, George made the seventy-mile trip several times in the back of the car proudly. She became very vocal, howling to the music, racing through the house as we unloaded. We acquired two other dogs at that time, and she couldn’t hold her own in a fight, as she was getting older. Instead of taking part in the everyday roughhousing, she became the referee or sports announcer. She would position herself alongside the other two, and bark out the progress of their disagreement, running back and forth to be sure we new exactly what was going on.

As she got older, she became less of a runner, and more of a ‘talker,’ answering all my questions in a variety of tones and inflections. She was bi-lingual. Our discussions usually sounded something like this:

Me: “George, you must stop eating books. This one had beautiful pictures of the ocean.”

George: “Arroooough.”

Me: “I mean it, George. It has to stop.”

George: “Rufflemorg.”

Me: “Enough.”

George: “Moofingale. Arringledorf.”

Me: “Let me have the last word, George!”

George: “Roofooorg!”

Me looking sternly at George.

George: “Arroooough!”

She always had to have the last word. Always.

Here’s to you, George. I miss you.




The Moxie Parade



Another day, another walk with Moxie. After today, however, I am concerned that our walks will never be the same. Moxie is spoiled forever.

On our walk, a lady and her five-year-old daughter were standing on their front porch. The little girl saw us about a half-block away. I could hear her. “Oh, Mommie! A doggie!” Moxie, of course, insisted on going that way, and stopped on the sidewalk to show off her beautifulness. The girl was almost crying in frustration because she wasn’t wearing shoes, and couldn’t come into the front yard to meet Moxie. Sigh. So Moxie offered to bring her treasured self to the front porch to be admired. The little girl whispered things in Moxie’s ear that Moxie refuses to reveal. The girl placed her face on Moxie’s head. The girl told Moxie that she is the most beautiful dog in the world.


We left, and very slowly made our way home. Moxie posed at every front sidewalk, waiting for the people to open their doors and pay her homage. Unfortunately, no one else had received the announcement of our parade.

We are home now, warming ourselves by the fire. Moxie is still smiling, re-living her glory.

Pepe of Noswad, and the Squirrels of Chaos, Episode 2: Pepe Reveals the Squirrels of Chaos’ Evil Plan: What He Knows.


Pepe romantic

It was late spring of 2001. Following the clandestine union of two high level espionage specialists on a secret mission, I was born first in a litter of four. Mother was white with a few black spots. My father was a Halloween cat, black with yellow eyes. Together, they produced a litter of Tuxedo kittens.

I couldn’t have wished for a better mother. Warm, loving, brave. I now own a blanket that reminds me of her. On a bad night, it brings me comfort. There has been no word from her since 2003. I still keep in close contact with my sister, Creepster.

Mother began our training early. But the runt, ‘Dragoon,’ was the one chosen to receive the Mission and Title. Dragoon of Noswad. A title that I coveted. I was Pepe le Chat L’Amour. As mother used to say, ‘I was bred to hunt. I was born to love.’

All too soon we were wrested away from the fireside and mother, and taken to a training camp. We were given the code name, ‘Barn Cats,’ and we spent our young lives working to grow up brave and strong.

It was during this period that I began to suspect just how important The Mission was. Dragoon, our leader, was secretive, yet demanding. Each of us was given a directive daily that must be achieved or there would be hell to pay. Which was strange when I think of Dragoon’s appearance. Looking back, I can see that was why he was chosen. Out of the litter, he was the only long-hair. And he had the ability to look innocent, helpless and stupid. All these qualities were a ruse, however. He was none of those things.

We had plenty of space to train in. Strenuous tree climbing, road racing, creek swimming. We did it all. It wasn’t long until we discovered our first operative. George.

George lived next door in a palace made of concrete. On a regular basis he would duck his captor and run reconnaissance. We ran into him one day while he was sneaking out. We learned so much from George even though he was a dog. He taught me to never believe anything you hear about that species, and I have since trusted many of his kind. I was grateful when we were reunited years later in his retirement. But there will be more of that later.

It was George who first pointed out the dangers that were living and lurking all around us. Raccoons, Possums, Moles, Weasels and Coyotes. But the stories he told the four of us on dark nights, the ones that gave me the worst nightmares were the ones that turned out to be true. These were the stories of squirrels. The Evil Squirrels of Chaos.

I noticed Dragoon during these conferences. The expression on his face changed whenever their name was mentioned. Primal hatred, his fangs would show. Once he saw me watching, and quickly masked his expression with blank stupidity. But he knew I’d seen the truth.

But first, we will break for a word from our sponsor: Fai is putting the finishing touches on her manuscript, LeMarais. To hear about this novel and her journey to be published, please follow her blog: www.faimarie.com, Like her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/faimariedawson and follow her on Twitter: @ Faidrah. Agents may be watching … Thank you. We now return to our hero, Pepe.

Shortly after that, Dragoon was gone for longer and longer periods of time. I soon realized he was on reconnaissance trips with George. I began sitting by the back porch each day waiting for him to return. To get a hint from his smell where he’d been.

My biggest regret is the day I allowed the warm summer sun to lull me to sleep. I awoke hearing screaming, chattering and the sound of the garage door closing.

I ran around the corner as fast as my legs would take me. I would give anything to erase the sight from my mind. For there, under the closing garage door was Dragoon. Squirrels gripping each paw as they held him in place for the descending door. When they saw me they scattered. But I was too late. By the time I hit the panic button and the door reversed, it had done its damage.

It took a few moments before death took him. In those moments he passed the coveted title to me. And enough information for me to realized just how necessary my role was for the safety of the world. For the evil plot of the Squirrels of Chaos was truly diabolical.

My fur stood on end as he whispered these words, “The Squirrels of Chaos have joined consciousness with all the squirrels of the universe. Together, they prepare the way for the aliens to land. Remember this date: April 11, 2015! It is the end of the future and of all we hold dear. You must stop them!” He faded out for a moment, then with a herculean effort whispered, “Tell mother I love her, tell …” and my brother was gone. I had witnessed a syndicate hit, my innocence died with him.

Watch next Thursday for Episode 3, in which Pepe Infiltrates Enemy Lines

Pepe of Noswad, and the Squirrels of Chaos, Episode 1: I Accept my Inevitable Role

Pepe of Noswad, and the Squirrels of Chaos

Episode 1: I accept my inevitable role

I am alone, I know that now. All others are blissfully unaware of their danger, and ignorant of the role I am offered. I could refuse, but I understand the consequences if I don’t succeed. I am no longer a young cat, and I have learned so much in my journey.

The enemy is all around. I hear them ridicule me in their ugly chatter. But I recognize it for the bravado it is. I’ve heard them threaten the squirrelings, “Eat those chestnuts and become strong, or The Fur Dragon of Noswad will eat you while you sleep!” I see the young ones as they learn their battle stances. I see the moves they practice on Moxie, my adopted sibling. Poor beast. She is but a dog. She meekly takes her station daily under the tree and bears the abuse bravely so she might tell me what she learns of their Plan. For this tree, this 100 year old willow is their Headquarters. All their diabolical decisions are made here, and I fear …

But first, we will break for a word from our sponsor:
Fai is putting the finishing touches on her manuscript, LeMarais. To hear about this novel and her journey to be published, please follow her blog: www.faimarie.com, like her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/faimariedawson and follow her on Twitter: @Faidrah. Thank you. We now return to our hero, Pepe.

… I fear the repercussions of their plan will reach so far into the future that it will change the evolution of all the planet earth species forever. For this plan is the evil, despicable, hateful plan of the Squirrels of Chaos.

I can’t bear to say this name out loud. Even as a kitten, these flea-bitten creatures were the things of nightmare, myth and horror. Looking back I can see that I was groomed for this role. It was my destiny. Written in the stars, my birth chart foresaw that I was the one chosen. Yes, I must accept. The Fur Dragon of Noswad will never back down. I write this now in the event of something happening to me, and I will hide this missive in the confines of the hallowed shelf within the chimney. By tooth and claw, Pepe

Watch for Episode 2, in which Pepe Reveals the Squirrels of Chaos’ evil Plan: What He Knows.