My mom was recently compelled to send me Bill Bryson’s, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, an engrossing and entertaining memoir. Bryson’s descriptions of Des Moines, Iowa, in the 1950s are striking as much for their period charms as for their chilling similarities to contemporary Whitehorse.
One passage in particular seems to have been composed about my current town of residence:
Poor people in my experience have mean dogs and know it. Rich people have mean dogs and refuse to believe it. There were thousands of dogs in those days too, inhabiting every property – big dogs, grumpy dogs, stupid dogs, tiny nippy irritating little dogs that you positively ached to turn into a kind of living Hacky Sack, dogs that wanted to smell you, dogs that wanted to sit on you, dogs that barked at everything that moved. (p. 160-161)
Man, if that doesn’t describe Whitehorse, which should more aptly be named Dogtown, I don’t know what does.
However, Bryson goes on to describe yet another truth about Whitehorse: the inherent abeyance of animal bylaws by certain cliques of residents that perversely regard their pets as companions – or worse – children. Therefore, their whacked logic follows, there’s no need to leash them.
In his childhood Bryson was chased and attacked repeatedly by a dog named Dewey. Like so many contemporary Whitehorse dog owners, Dewey’s owners,
…laughingly dismissed the idea that Dewey had a mean streak and serenely ignored any suggestions that he ought to be kept tied up, as the law actually demanded. They were Republicans–Nixon Republicans–and so didn’t subscribe to the notion that laws are supposed to apply to all people equally. (p. 161)
Man, if I had a donut for every time a dog ran free, barking, and gnashing its teeth at my son within the City of Whitehorse I’d be Tim friggin’ Horton.
What’s most annoying though, as my son hangs limply in my arms, crying in terror as we wait for someone to arrive and haul away this annoying and smelly mongrel, is the audacity of the owner to stroll up slowly, look at us like idiots and say something like, “Oh, don’t be scared, he would never hurt anyone. He’s actually really sweet.”
At which point, my imagination flares with the image of myself grabbing the dog by the scruff of its neck, reaching down its throat into its belly and pulling out the half-gnawed limb of the last child it mauled, then holding it up for its owner and proclaiming, “You call this sweet?”
To which I would not be surprised to see them smile in the emotionless manner of a vampire or serial murderer, calmly take the bloodied and partially-digested fleshy appendange from me, and carry on to terrorize another victim.
Yeah. This is a town of Nixon Republicans.