Thursday, November 11, 2004

Phillywonk's Forgotten Entry

According to Thaddeus P. Phillywonk's "Maelstrom of the Animal Mindstorm," the only animals who are at ease with the size that God has bestowed upon them are whales and the long-extinct terradactyl. The rest -- giraffes, horses, elephants and panda bears -- are confused and in a perpetual frenzy of Lennie Syndrome, a debilitating disease named after the mouse-crushing numbskull from "Of Mice and Men." These animals know not what to do with their size or strength; they step on orphanages and antique stores by accident and are hostages to their own carnage.

Add Great Danes to the list. Bollagher, the beast in my care here off Prince Ave., is an off-yellow horsedog who is timid and lovable and clumsy and old. He has the gas of a deathbed Cubs fan and the odor of a bus driver's seat. Yet he is alive and wiry, curious and gentle, and romp dances upstairs every night in a bizarre ritual to remind himself he is indeed alive.

This morning, while charting out a story, he sauntered up next to me, his lips dripping with a mix of drool and water. He begged to have his neck stroked, to feel friction on an itch unreachable. Before I could make contact and ease his pain, his mouth opened and unleashed a burp consisting of half-digested dog food and canine innards.

I can't say this is his worst--my first night here he became a walking, barking whoopie cushion influencing me to leave a book of matches in every single room to which he can find access. He sleeps in the downstairs hallway lined with bookshelves, and when his ass starts rumbling, the pathway takes on a morbid smell of old yellow paper and fart. But he's worth keeping around. Not just for the cliche questions I get when I walk him ("How much he weigh?" "How old is he?" "You ride that thing?"), but for the fact that in his most frantic moments, you see the spectrum of animal emotion, and in the most calm, you see a giant with a heart. The see saw of the animal kingdom.

Photograph by Thomas Wheatley/"Bolly & Mabby" 11/04
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