A Dog and His Boy
Dedicated to Betsy Vick and Richard Vick
Some people dream of having the perfect pet. Many of us believe we had that pet when we were children and no other pet after that could ever come close to the ideal. We are indeed fortunate if we have the ideal pet when we are adults. Professor Lancaster Markem had such a pet when he lived in Weeder's Clump and taught at Heliotrope University. That pet was a dog named Bosco, and he was the most intelligent animal Markem had ever encountered in several years of college teaching. Sometimes Markem would tell him, “Bosco, you are the smartest, bravest, kindest dog in the whole world.” When Markem would say that, Bosco would wag his tail and wait for the special treat Markem would always award him.
Through hard work and the patience of a saint, Markem taught Bosco to answer the phone. When the phone rang at the Markem house, Bosco would bark and bark. If Markem was working in his study or taking a nap, Bosco's barking enabled him to know the phone was ringing. “I'll get it this time, Bosco,” Markem would say as he handed Bosco a special treat.
In addition, Markem taught Bosco to guard the house against thieves, a valuable skill for a dog to have in this postmodern world when there is discontent throughout the land and elected politicians in Illinois are plundering and robbing our beloved state unchecked by conscience or even concern for the welfare of the people. Bosco hated thieves with a fury, and he frightened many of them off the Markem property and saved the family home; however, Bosco believed all thieves had four legs, a long tail, and went “Meow, meow, meow.”
Late one night Bosco awakened Mary Markem with his barking. She told Markem to quiet him down or she would kill him. When Markem came down the stairs, he found the brave dog at the picture window barking furiously. Cautiously, Markem pulled back the curtain and peered outside. Sure enough, there was a vicious little thief sitting on the lawn, nonchalantly cleaning his whiskers.
“Good dog, Bosco, you have saved our home once again, and you deserve a special treat.”
When Markem told his wife what the brave Bosco had done, she muttered something about the beauty of a dog and his boy and then she was fast asleep.
Teaching Bosco to put the car away at night was easy. It took him only a short time to learn that task. Every night about 10:00 o'clock, Bosco would come to Markem, stare at him with his big brown eyes and sometimes put his paw on Markem's leg to get his attention. Then Markem would say, “Oh, is it time to put the car away?”
When Markem said that, Bosco would wag his tail, run to the door, and wait for Markem to help him put the car away.
Besides being intelligent and brave, Bosco was also obedient. Markem could always count on Bosco to do what he was told. When Markem would take Bosco for a walk and they would approach a tree, Markem would say, “Give it a shot, Bosco.” The noble Bosco would never fail to obey that order.
Although it should have been obvious to everyone that Bosco was a special animal, Markem had two friends who disliked him. One friend was a colleague who taught at Heliotrope University and later moved to teach at a community college in southern Illinois. The friend was a brilliant teacher, a fine writer, and a White Sox fan. In addition to those admirable qualities, he had a beautiful wife. She was pulchritudinous if you want the honest truth.
The friend had only one fault; he didn't like dogs. Instead he preferred the company of thieves. But he and Markem got along famously because Markem didn't take Bosco to the friend's house and the friend didn't bring his little thief to the Markem home. That was a perfect arrangement because the little thief's name was Fresno, and he was the most vicious, mean-spirited, vindictive little thief Markem had ever seen. And Markem doesn't exaggerate; he sometimes procrastinates, but he never exaggerates.
The other person who disliked Bosco was a woman named Beulah Thompson. Actually, Beulah was Mary Markem's friend. They used to walk to school together when they were girls.
Beulah never missed an opportunity to make snide remarks about Bosco, and she made certain that Markem heard them. She delighted in calling Bosco a good-for-nothing, worthless, flea-bitten mutt, and she claimed that Markem could pay her no amount of money to have Bosco in her house. At first, Markem's feelings were hurt, but he saw that no matter what Beulah said about Bosco, the noble dog acted as if she was his best friend in the world. Actually, if you want to know the truth, Markem was a little jealous.
One day when Beulah was visiting the Markem home, Bosco came up to her, put his head on her knee, and looked up at her with his big brown eyes. He was begging for a treat.
Beulah threw up her hands and said, “Oh, is there no balm in Gilead? No rest for the weary? No pause that refreshes?”
When Beulah said that, Bosco offered his paw for her to shake.
“No, that's the wrong paw, Bosco. A gentleman doesn't offer his left paw to a lady. You know better than that,” Markem said, genuinely disappointed.
After a while Markem was able to understand what Beulah was up to. Actually she was just pretending to dislike Bosco. She was trying to rim-jiggle Markem into thinking that Bosco was worthless. Then he would give him up and she could claim him for herself. Markem was convinced of this strategy because of Beulah's husband. He always referred to Bosco as “Beulah's dog.”
One day Markem said straight out, “Beulah, don't even bother to make me an offer for this dog. You would just be wasting your time.”
“Why would I make you an offer when I don't want the dog?” Beulah replied.
“Just forget about it,” Markem said. “Look why don't you get a nice pair of little thieves. Many people enjoy them, and sometimes they can be good pets if you don't expect much of them.”
Markem lied to Beulah. He would have sold Bosco to her for a million dollars.