July 4, 2018

(Editor’s note: This was first published on July 5, 1996, in the Simi Valley (California) Star.)

The Grand Canyon was striking. The Grand Canyon Caverns were cool. Hoover Dam, on the other hand, was hot.

But none of these Arizona wonders compare to Bear.

Bear is my cousin Rosemary’s dog. Actually,

she’s Rosemary’s husband Jeff’s dog. Actually,

calling Bear a dog is stretching it a bit. More

like a 200-pound, long-haired, golden throw rug.

Rosemary and Jeff had left for Mexico by the

time we reached Kingman. They left Bear with

Rosemary’s sister Peggy. That’s where we

encountered the throw rug. Which would

have been fine if we could have walked on it.

But that would have been impolite, because it

was still breathing—sort of. So we had to

step over it.

Bear is old. She’s deaf and blind. She rarely moves. She only ventures outside once a day to do her thing. This increases her entertainment value.

Occasionally, Bear stood up. This action inevitably led someone to run to the door, open it, and ask, “Want to go out, Bear?” Bear would look with glassy eyes, the front legs would collapse, and Bear would hit the floor with a “froompf.”

Once, we even tried cheering her.

“Bear, Bear, he’s our man, if he can’t do it …,” I called while Peggy jumped in the air. Bear, unimpressed, went “froompf.” Perhaps this dainty female canine didn’t like being called a man.

Jeff had told Peggy and Peg’s husband, Ken, that if Bear dropped dead while they were away to tie her up in a Hefty bag. Periodically, someone checked, but the throw rug lived, strange noises aside.

Then it happened. It came on Day Two of Bear’s stay. She stood. She walked. She stood at the back door and smiled that dumb dog smile. “Look,” someone called out. Peggy and Ken ran to the door.
“Want to go out, Bear?” Peggy asked.

Bear smiled. The tail semi-wagged. Peggy opened the door. Bear ambled outside. She did her thing. People clapped as she returned to the kitchen. “Froompf.” The show was over for another 24 hours.

Bear was the main event, but there were plenty of side shows. Peggy has two cats. They were not happy with this canine in their midst. So, they stalked her. But stalking Bear is like stalking a tree. There may be some movement if the wind blows, but the chase is futile. You could see frustration in their furry, little faces.

So, they ate the dog food for revenge, leaving the cat kibble untouched. Bear didn’t seem to notice.

Then there were Peggy and Ken’s own two dogs. They couldn’t understand how this big galoot got to stay inside while they were relegated to the back yard. Ken installed a misting system on the backyard patio to keep the family cool when they ventured into the desert heat. The rarely use it, but the dogs get nasty if it’s not left on.

I don’t have the space to describe the parakeet that barks.

Arizona is full of natural and manmade wonders. But for sheer entertainment value, I recommend Ken and Peggy’s house. Tell them cousin Tom sent ya.


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Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.​​

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Throw Rug Provides Top Entertainment