Why my dogs are leashed all the time

It was 12:30 in the afternoon. Time to walk the furballs.

We went outside into the front yard, where the dogs did roughly half their doggie business, and spend a little time whining at a cat at the other end of the clearing.

We walked a few yards down the sidewalk and then stepped into the grass between our condos and the neighbor’s house. There’s a large bush that separates the property. I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t flower and it’s about eight feet tall. Plenty of cover for whatever wants to hide underneath it, which is why I generally keep the dogs away from it. (I don’t feel like untangling two terriers from a mess of branches when they spot a squirrel, which I’d spend every day doing if I gave them free reign over that bush.)

Chance was doing his usual sniffing thing, trying to find a spot that satisfies his exacting standards for what to poop on. Kaylee was rolling in the grass and I was doing my ridiculous “Come on Chance, focus” cheerleading routine for all the neighbors to see.

Chance turned toward the bush.

A full grown whitetail doe – easily 5 foot tall – bounded out of the bush, ran down the grass between condo buildings, and helped any drivers in our parking lot soil their pants.

All three of us stood there dumbfounded.

Now, terriers are a working breed, even if you get the shorties, which are a few generations into “lap dog” breeding. Hundreds of years of farmers have turned them into creatures whose brains are wired to find and kill vermin. I’ve never explicitly trained any of my 3 Jack Russells to hunt, but I’ve picked up dead and maimed toads, mice, and birds for nigh-on 10 years now. Whatever the creature, if they determine it’s not a human or a dog, when moves, they bite, spit it out, see if it moves again, bite, spit, etc.

You may think a deer isn’t vermin, but my friend, according to a Jack Russell’s definition, you would be wrong.

JessieDog’s reaction to deer back in the apartment was to immediately bay like a beagle and try to find a way off the balcony that didn’t involve falling to her death. But Chance and Kaylee have never seen a deer up close before, so I’m not particularly surprised that they had no idea how to react.

And then the smell of that deer blew back to us and small dog cogs and gears in small dog brains started turning. Just before the doe disappeared fully from view, my dogs’ little brains produced a spark that fired off some neurons announcing “OMG THAT’S THE BIGGEST RAT EVER!”

They started barking their fool heads off. Chance did leaps and twists and somersaults at the end of his leash in an attempt to chase the giant rat. I hauled them around the building forcibly, with both dogs pulling every direction, until we crossed the scent of that deer again. Then, suddenly, every blade of grass in the yard needed to be inspected and reinspected and re-reinspected for traces of deer.

It was only once we returned back to the bush that we could get back to the business at hand, and even then, it was a challenge to get everyone back to the house.

Now, my training of my three dogs has never been 100% stellar. And I’m sure if I worked with them every day around deer I could eventually train these two to come when I call even if we’re surrounded by a herd of the World’s Biggest Rat.

But I’m also sure that, if my dogs had been off-leash today, they’d be lost or dead right now. You don’t train the hunt out of a terrier.

Today was a reminder that those signs that say to leash your dogs at all times aren’t just for your neighbors’ protection, or for your protection from litigious neighbors, or for your protection when the police show up to enforce the laws that say your dogs should be leashed. They’re also protection from that rare fall day that a deer decides to jump out of the bushes at noon, and they’re a damn good idea.

And we were only 2 days away, too.

November is not for driving.

Two years ago, we had a short November snow, and on what should have been a routine shopping trip, we slid through a part of the parking lot that was a little snowier than the rest. As a result, our left turn wasn’t. We bounced the Neon’s front right tire against a curb. That resulted in replacement of the tire, rim, and I think some axel parts.

Last year, much earlier in November, I came through an S-curve while being blinded by oncoming traffic, only to find a deer standing in my lane. You’ve all got a rough idea of how that went.

And today, Nighthawk and I drove the Neon from our place, to Lowe’s (to return the miter saw that didn’t), then to Sears (to buy a miter saw that will hopefully both miter and saw) and then back through Spring City to go home. We stopped at a stop light, turned right, and immediately discovered someone in our lane stopped and hoping to turn left. Rather than hit her, we dove right once again, and ate yet another curb.

End result: as yet unknown. The car’s front wheels look a little duck-footed, and it’s not currently safely drivable. Whether just the rim and tire are shot, or whether we’ve blown things out seriously this time will be determined by the dealership tomorrow.

Next year, I’m going to work on devising a way to not have either member of the family drive in November.

Hey, Hooters has planes. Why not Jiffy Pop?

pop goes the airplane!

Okay, story time!

Back in late January or early February, my cousin was in a car accident which resulted in the airbag deploying. (She was and is fine.) That event was the inspiration for today’s comic, which I finished drawing by oh, roughly the middle of February.

But I really felt that using a joke like this against my characters required some kind of background — what the hell would’ve happened that would have resulted in an airbag going off? Well, longtime readers know that I hit a deer back in November of ’04, and though the only thing that exploded in my case was the deer’s ass (it shat on my car. the nerve.), a slightly larger deer and a slightly heavier lead foot on my part may have caused an airback deployment… so around June I got enough fragmented pieces of a plan together to actually start this arc… which was somewhat inconvenient considering that I’d started a different arc back in May that still stands unfinished.

We’ll get back to that. I promise. But since it took Marin 140 days of our time to get through just over 12 hours of her time, I think it’s time we give the poor girl a rest.

Besides, I have a Halloween comic to run (a day early, on Monday, at that!), and maybe some Jesus-in-a-box stuff… you know, brain stretch for a bit.

Anyway, this may very well be one of the longest set-up-to-punchline time spans in horrible-amateur comics. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.