Mar 1, 2023
This post is exactly what it sounds like. Let’s go through them chronologically, shall we?
MAXIMUS GARY vs. HYPER DOG
The worst thing Max did was when he was about 3 months old. He ruined a wedding at the Lucerne Inn in Holden, Maine. Long-story short, he bolted through a gap in the drizzle drapes and charged his soaking-wet puppy ass directly into the Bride’s crotch while I was holding a bag of his warm poop.
So let’s talk about the second worst thing Max did.
When we first opened the store, Liana and I were apparently on mind-altering drugs because that’s when we got the idea that our dogs could just roam free in the shop without any kind of reasonable restraint.
Approximately 400 seconds after that, Max thought it would be a fantastic idea to bite every dog he saw. I tried to explain to the people that Max wasn’t trying to hurt their dogs, but merely run them off in a panicked terror.
One day I was fitting a skittish 110lb German Shepherd for a harness and some Hyper-Dog dragged his owner into our shop. Max’s hackles went up and his tail went straight in the air. I kept saying to Hyper-Dog’s owner, “Gimmie a minute… Hold on…! Please…!” as I was simultaneously trying maneuver Max off the floor in such a way that the skittish German Shepherd wouldn’t bite my neck in half. I shouted, “PLEASE LET ME GET MY DOG OFF THE FLOOR!!!!….”
But Hyper-Dog’s owner was most definitely a New-Dog-Owner (NDO) who think all dogs love each other and frolic together on the green grass under rainbows all the time. He was shocked that I objected to his dog running roughshod over my shop and freaking all the dogs out. But that didn’t stop NDO from letting his dog into my shop like the Tasmanian Devil on a Teflon floor.
His dog got snout to snout with a growling, fangs-bared, hackles-up, leash-less Max. And Max bit him right on his snout.
Hyper-Dog squealed and cried bloody murder. He made for the door, getting his leash under his horrified owner’s feet and tripping him up like a hippie at Woodstock.
He went down hard. He got up swinging. He said Max was vicious. He said he was never coming back to my crappy pet store. Ever. And he was going to write an awful review on every social media platform.
I looked down at Max and he looked back up at me.
Then the skittish German Shepherd bit my neck off.
AUGUSTUS MEGATRON BULLDOZER – BITEY FACE
One fine spring day, Auggie was asleep out back on his dog bed in the warm sun. He was all curled up and looked like a content little black bean. A woman saw him and fell in absolute love with him like so many of us before have. She crossed the street, ignored the multiple “DO NOT ENTER,” “NO TRESSPASSING,” “BEWARE THE DOG,” and “PRIVATE PROPERTY” signs. She hopped the 3ft fence and made for the cute, sleeping Auggie like a bomb-laden kamikaze with low fuel.
She struck Augustus broadside- right in his conning tower. She shoved her smiling, love-expectant face right into poor sleeping Auggie’s and said something loud and most-likely sappy into his ear.
Aug Dog did what any of us would have done in the same situation- he bit her in the face, got up, and barked at her from a safe distance.
When I heard Aug barking, I immediately thought of a time when some drunk was trying to get him into the back seat of a car. He was barking in the same way. I dropped what I was doing and ran out to see the woman holding her cheek and screaming. Blood was coming out from between her hand and cheek. Auggie was still barking at her like she was Jason Voorhees and he was a blacker, smaller version of Cujo.
I yelled at Auggie and said he was a “BAD DOG” and to “GO LIE DOWN.” I hopped down off the deck to help the woman into my truck so I could get her to Urgent Care. I gave her some alcohol wipes and a roll of paper towels. Then I phoned Liana and apprised her of the situation.
As I was driving, I watched blood seep through the paper towels, and listened to her continual, rapid-breathed soliloquy about what an awful dog Auggie was, and who would keep such a vicious dog accessible to the public. All I could think about was Auggie.
I felt bad I called him a “BAD DOG.” That’s the worst thing our dogs can ever be called. It wasn’t Auggie’s fault. But the law is such that, if a dog bites a human, the dog is automatically at fault. No matter how dumb that human is or how many layers of signs and barbed wire that person had to climb through to get to the dog. Animal Control could put Auggie down for what “he” did to this crazy woman that very evening. What could I do but apologize? Anything else could turn into a real problem for me and Auggie.
I drowned out her hysterical prattle by entertaining myself in childish scenarios regarding what I would do if that euthanasia hammer came down. First, I would steal a set of rabies tags from some dog and get ID tags that matched them. Then I’d flee across state lines until the heat got too close. Perhaps we would have a scuffle with law enforcement somewhere in the Midwest, and then a full-blown shootout somewhere in the Sierra Madre where Aug would die in my arms and let me know how much he loved me.
The woman was seen immediately at Urgent Care. I told the staff to direct all the bills and follow-up bills to me. I sat in the lobby and worried about Aug. When I was sure no one was watching or listening, I called Liana and asked how he was.
He was fine and the woman never filed a vicious dog report.
COAL E. COAL’S HAPPY SCYTHE
Coal could be irritating, especially when he would bark at the other dogs when they were having fun. But he always tried to be a good boy, and I was hard pressed to squeeze out his worst moment for this piece.
Coal wasn’t abused by his previous owners. I think he was increasingly neglected as his owners brought up their first child. But that wasn’t a crime. In a strange way it’s almost expected. His life pretty much consisted of being let out of his crate to pee and poop in the morning, breakfast, being put back into his crate until his owners came back from work, where they’d let him out of the crate for pee, poop, and dinner. Then it was back into the crate when they went to sleep.
We got him when he was 8 and loved him instantly. And he loved our little sand and gravel beach at our Southport Cabin instantly. He immediately picked up a “Happy Stick” and ran from one end of the beach to another over and over.
And over and over and over and over.
We didn’t think anything of it. And it was great seeing him happy. And it was kind of funny. We let it slide.
Then our friend was coming up on his 50th birthday. He wanted to have it on our little beach– lobster bake, beach fire, the whole bit. And of course, we wanted him to have his 50th at our beach. We loved parties a lot more than we liked drinking alone at the laundromat on Sunday mornings.
Lots of people and small children showed up for it. There was also a huge bonfire and other dangerous things like a propane lobster cooker, volleyball net, drunk adults and possibly drunk teenagers. We couldn’t be sure with all that warm, fuzzy liquor addling our brains.
And Coal did what he did best: he grabbed a giant Happy Stick and ran roughshod over the beach. And over. And over. I’m sure he hit every adult in the shins at least twice, and drove the terrified, screaming children before him with his Happy-Scythe like he was some kind of fuzzy Mongol Horde. Of course I screamed at him. But honestly, I just wanted to have a good time instead of being the screaming Dog-Nazi drunk on the beach everyone was expecting. So when the adults realized I wasn’t the person to regain control, they banded together to protect the small children from Coal in a very primal, tribe-like way.
I thought the emergency was over until Liana sauntered by me and hissed surreptitiously, “Get Coal out of here NOW.”
I chased Coal down and and ripped the Happy-Scythe out of his mouth. He was undaunted. I dragged him back up to the cabin and left his stick outside and closed the sliding glass door.
I put the Red Sox game on the radio for him and went back down to the Beach Party.
When I got back to the cabin around midnight, Coal was still staring at his stick out on the deck.
FOUNTAINS OF BUDDY
This story is told much better by Buddy himself here.
Buddy was such a sweet dog. He came from a royally-disorganized and confused Biped couple anxious to dump him. They had a child. Neutered Buddy couldn’t even promise them a puppy. Buddy couldn’t hurt a fly if he wanted to. And that’s when he broke my ankle. He was pretty remorseless about breaking it, but I understood. It was just Buddy being Buddy. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. I was just collateral damage in another one of Buddy’s normal days.
‘Twas the time of COVID lockdown and Liana was acting the part of a New York gadabout. When I say New York, I meant New Jersey. And by gadabout I mean “visiting her friends.” Regardless, I was left with all our dogs in “Our Pownal Fortified Bunker.” This was just as awful as it sounds and far less than I was expecting I had to bear. Just kidding. Nothing about this story is true.
It was winter and Buddy was towards his end. He could still yelp if he needed attention, and attention he needed whenever I was home. I got back home. I let him outside one night and he marched to the center of the lawn. He looked around.
I looked around. I saw the lights across the bay and the lights on this side of the bay. It was silent and beautiful.
Buddy sidled up next to me in the center of the lawn. He looked up. I said, “Poopy!” “Poopy?” “Poopy, No!?”
He looked at me like I was insane. I intro-flected myself like I was insane talking to a dog that way. It went back and forth that way. I started walking back to the apartment stairs. Buddy painfully loped his way after me.
But Buddy wouldn’t go up the stairs. He sat down in front of the them such that I could hear the bones in his legs grind together from about 15ft away. Then he went full horizontal on the walkway and refused to do anything.
I sighed the heavy sigh of a man whose talents were constantly in demand by a greedy world. I went down to help him.
I grabbed him by his hips and lifted. A stream of hot diarrhea hit me squarely in the chest.
If you’ve never been hit in the chest with hot diarrhea on a frigid Maine night, let me tell you that it’s a surreal experience. It’s not something you can really plan for, nor anything a sane person envisions beforehand. It’s one of those strange things that just happens to someone and they never talk about it again to anyone. That’s unless you’re some depraved weirdo desperate to entertain the same 150 people who read your blog every month.
After the initial shock of getting shot with diarrhea in the chest, I did what any rational person would do. I filled my lungs and screamed the longest, most vile string of obscenities ever heard in the history of the free world.
Buddy was terrified. I didn’t care. I was certifiably unhinged. I saw the diarrhea steam coming off me and I filled my lungs for another round and gagged. That’s when I heard someone behind me ask me if there was a “problem.” I turned around and saw two Boothbay Harbor Police Officers looking at me.
I screamed, “THE PROBLEM IS THAT I’M COVERED IN DOG SHIT!!!” I held my arms out for evidence and advanced on them like I was going to hug them.
One of them said “Okey Dokey!” They both pivoted on their heels and ambled away from me as fast as they could. I feel like they were negligent. The least they could have done was helped me commit “Suicide by Cop.”
I went inside the house and threw my clothes in the utility sink with bunch of hot water and hand soap. Outside, Buddy was barking forlornly to come inside. He certainly seemed remorseful.
I spent the rest of the night cleaning Buddy and myself with the hose freezing water from the hose out front.
Of course I got a horrible cold I thought was The Covids.
I almost wished it was.
I’ve only had two new cars in my life. One was a 1999 F-150. The other is my 2019 Honda Ridgeline that I currently own.
As strange as it sounds, I almost divorced Liana because I damaged the rear door panel on my F-150 against a column of very tight parking garage in Missouri. Normally, I wouldn’t consider that grounds for divorce. But at her insistence, we HAD to go to the BEST BBQ in Missouri as judged by the Chumbucket County Missouri BBQ Council.
Of course it was all my fault– Liana wasn’t driving my truck, she merely mandated we stop at this BBQ joint. She didn’t even recommend we park in that garage. But because she wanted to go to this restaurant, she assumed responsibility for the dented door. My libertarian tendencies reasoned I would have stayed at our crappy hotel and eaten 20 small packages of potato chips from the vending machine and washed it down with Hi-C rather than go somewhere my beloved wanted to go. My driving was never suspect. I was sober when the accident happened, after all.
Fast-forward to my 2019 Honda Ridgeline and Teddy.
We got Teddy as a rescue right after I bought my beloved 2019 Ridgeline. I assumed Teddy was like any other adopted dog in our long line of adopted dogs. I assumed he was motivated by malice and one-upmanship.
But after a week or so of getting to know him, I changed my opinion of Old Teddy Spaghetti. He was a good dog and it was time to expose him to the nuances of a Kingsbury life by leaving him in my beloved 2019 Ridgeline as I sucked down whiskey and seafood at Robinson’s Wharf.
When I got back to my truck, Teddy had gnawed the center console into a pile of smouldering black plastic shreds. He looked at me defiantly and unapologetic from the front seat.
I’d like to say that I was calm and composed after drinking 17 whiskeys (AN EMBELLISHMENT FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES) and seeing the center console of my brand new truck shredded and the dog responsible defying me. But I wasn’t.
I did exactly what I shouldn’t have- I treated Teddy like the the rest of my wrathful curs. I made Teddy sit in the back seat and yelled at him all the way home. That’s when I noticed the untouched marrow bone I left him in the front wheel well. The damn dog didn’t care about such a premium treat. He just wanted to be with me.
And now he hated me.
Oh Teddy Spaghetti. How could I divorce you?
MARZ- THE GROWING THREAT
Look, we’ve only had Marz for a little while. He’s only a year and a half old. He does a lot of dumb things because he’s a puppy.
Outside of those common puppy experiences that are just him testing his environment and boundaries, he really hasn’t done anything egregious. Sure, he’s gotten into the garbage. He’s torn apart furniture and his pee and poop placements have known no bounds. He’s been an outright rebellious cur and a sodden, begging mutt in the same minute. And of course he tried eating poop.
Stay tuned. Marz’s “Behaving Badly” story will most likely be a New York Times best-seller. Or on NPR’s “This American Life.”
But definitely just another story on The Harbor Dogs’ Stories.
Originally, Coal wrote about this much better in “17 Messes in May” way back in 2016. Now you have the opportunity to hear my skewed recollection of events, or if you are some kind of obsessive weirdo- compare the two stories for discrepancies that will discredit me in a court of law..
I worked construction and engineering for most of my life. I can be quite the vulgarian. I can swear entertainingly and at length without repeating myself. I can keep my composure and wits about me when confronted with huge financial loss and hairy hardhat-wearing apes who want to hurt me physically and financially. But I’m not here to string myself with garlands and regale in all my successes. I’m here to talk about my awful dogs behaving badly.
This is a story about how I completely, totally, and utterly lost control of a situation that I should have been well in command.
Liana was busy with her “Real Job” in Pre-The-Covids Portland. I had all four dogs (Max, Aug, Coal, and Buddy) and was eager to open up our Southport Cabin for the first time that spring. I envisioned a romantic evening of cocktails and burgers from the grill when she returned.
The first thing I did that morning was bring all the dogs down to the beach for a good fetch session. Theoretically, the dogs would be good and tired afterwards and stay out of my cleaning endeavors.
It was a good theory. It should have worked. Like communism. It was a good theory, but in practice communism sucked. In MY theory, the flaw was that my dogs were just as excited as I was to be at the cabin for the first time that spring. So instead of enjoying exhausting games of swimfetch, the dogs just ran around the beach eating seaweed, rotten crabs, kelp, decomposing fish, and washing it all down with salt water that guaranteed them bouts of prolonged diarrhea. Coal was the only dog who robustly fetched, but he did eat a lot of rotten wood that morning at the cabin. And that would most certainly make him vomit later in the narrative.
When we got back up to the cabin, I launched myself into cleaning, restocking food, taking the tarp off the chimney, making beds, bringing in firewood, getting the furniture and grill onto the deck, and otherwise trying to make the cabin a pleasant place for Liana when she showed up.
Coal threw up chunks of wood chips on the living room floor. Max, seemingly jealous, drank about a gallon of water and threw it all up with a lot of kelp directly on Coal’s mess.
Then I made my biggest mistake.
I angrily threw all the dogs out of the cabin, but not before Buddy threw up a bunch of brown rotten sushi and kelp on the couch.
They all ran back down to the beach and and ate a lot more seaweed and filth and rotten wood than I could imagine.
They straggled back to the cabin, looking for dinner. Once they were all back and fed, I set up my cherished summer routine- Red Sox on the radio and my ass in front of my computer.
After about 50 minutes later the dogs started puking and pooping everywhere.
I took no notice until the snuggling Auggie threw up in the bed. That’s when I threw all the dogs out of the bedroom. It was also the first time I began to question whether I could control all these dogs.
The answer to that question presented itself in the morning. The answer was that I most definitely had lost control. There was a putrid minefield of diarrhea and vomit spread out all over the green shag carpet. Also, the garbage was thoughtfully cast everywhere in the kitchen just waiting for an intestinal blockage.
I cleaned up the surficial messes with whatever Skout’s Honor and paper towels I had left. I put little napkins on the messes that I couldn’t tend to.
Then I loaded everydog into the car and made for a trail I thought would be fun, and the dogs could shit and puke where I wouldn’t have to clean it up.
Do you know those dye canisters bank employees put into sacks of stolen money when they’re robbed? Buddy had explosive diarrhea at the traffic light in town. The inside of the Vomitmobile was covered with brown dye-a-rrhea (haha! GET IT? HAHA!). The smell was absolutely unbearable. It stung my eyes and made me gag, it was so bad.
I skidded the Vomitmobile into the Irving parking lot like one of those shot-up WWII planes trying to land on a burning aircraft carrier.
I ran out of the car gagging and Coal hopped out after me cheerfully. I opened the back doors and the other dogs flew out. They were covered in filth and dispersed like milkweed pollen. They ran around the parking lot. They begged customers for scraps at the door. They ran into the woods. I couldn’t do anything about it except bring the Vomitmobile to the car wash and spray the back out with shampoo and pressurized water. Coal sat by me happily. When I collected the other dogs, I sprayed them down and thrust them in the Vomitmobile.
I drove back to the cabin. I walked across all the napkin-marked landmines and into the bedroom. I shut all the dogs out. Even Coal.
I laid on the bed and stared at the ceiling, listening to dogs vomit.
Headlights appeared in the driveway. The dogs went berserk. Liana came in and was confused. I think she thought it was my diarrhea marked by napkins on the floor.
Eventually she came into the bedroom and asked me what the hell was going on. I wasn’t ready to talk and turned my shoulder on her.
She left the room and fed the dogs.
BATTING FOR LIANA
Nothing bad has ever happened under Liana’s watch. EVER. Not even this story.
I was asleep after a hard night of writing and drinking at the Newagen Inn when I got a call from Liana at our house in Pownal.
I let it go to voicemail thinking it was just another long exhortation regarding how sexy I was and how much she missed me. She didn’t leave a voicemail. I felt warm and fuzzy that my wife thought so much of me.
Then it rang again. I wasn’t THAT sexy. Something was up.
I missed that call as well. A voicemail alert popped up. I went to it.
Message: “DON! DON!! PICK UP THE FU¢KING PHONE!!! DON!! PICK IT UP!!!! YOU FU¢KING IDIOT! YOU DRUNK!!! PICK UP THE PHONE!! I Fu¢KING HATE YOU!!!! WHERE THE FU¢K ARE YOU?!?!?! YOU ASSHOLE!!!! PICK UP THE PHONE!!!! PICK IT UP!!!!! WAKE UP!!!!” Then a kind of strangulated scream and the line went dead.
Well. That had my attention.
What the hell had I done wrong? Sure, there were many things over the course of our marriage I had done wrong- including my actions at our actual marriage. Yet I judged they were all pretty minor things. I never cheated on her. Never opened her personal mail or emails. Never messed with her brake lines. Never talked badly about her except in these stories…
I was completely perplexed.
Slowly, it occurred to me that she might be in trouble.
I called her back.
In between the breathless nonsense and intermittent screeching, I understood.
There was a bat flying around our house in Pownal and my wife was literally out-of-her-mind-terrified. She blockaded herself in our bedroom with Coal and a cellphone. But the bat had free reign in the rest of the house. It didn’t help that we had an open-floor timber-frame house with a spacious great room in Pownal. That bat must have been having the time of his life. Assuming it was a male bat.
When I got back to Pownal, Liana didn’t come out of the bedroom. She screamed at me through the door. I told her I was opening “That Same Door” to let in all the dogs I had in my possession.
I assuaged her to the point where she let the other dogs in the bedroom. Then I heard the door lock and I realized I was alone with the bat.
I’m not particularly afraid of bats or any critters for that matter, but our house is large and it was almost completely dark. And Liana was freaking me out.
I got a flashlight and ran upstairs to open all the windows in the attic. Then I got a couple big pieces of cardboard from boxes, closed all the bedroom doors on the second floor, and made my way downstairs.
I went straight into the living room, took a huge breath of air, and started screaming my head off like the bat got me. I heard Liana scream and Coal howl like he heard an ambulance. That was pretty funny. I turned on all the lights on the first floor.
Then I saw him. He was flying right at me. I held up the pieces of cardboard and directed his bat’s ass to the dark upstairs.
I went upstairs with my cardboard protecting me and turned the lights on. He went straight to the attic. I ran after him and closed the door to the attic. The bat eventually flew out one of the windows.
I said goodbye and closed the attic windows.
I came downstairs, happy in my victory. I went back to the kitchen and got myself a drink. It was 4am. I had to be at the shop in Boothbay at 9am and I was an hour away.
The next day Liana researched every bat professional in all 50 states and had the best one come over and bat-proof the house for a little less than Guatamala’s yearly GDP.
To death do us part, indeed.
NOW GO AWAY OR I SHALL BE FORCED TO TAUNT YOU A SECOND TIME.