Mugsy Unleashed

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Mugsy Unleashed

Scarcely any degree of judgment is sufficient to restrain the imagination from magnifying that on which it is long detained.” –Samuel Johnson

There were none on the streets that was as feared as Mugsy.  At least, that’s what he wanted people to believe.  His growl was like a rumbling death-threat that rolled and tossed through the air straight towards any who would dare anger him.  His stature was small, but his demeanor was always challenging.  Mugsy was not particular about who he chose to threaten.  Men, women, groups; all were possible targets for sharp words and a fuming glare.  If someone looked like they were going to lay a hand on him, Mugsy quickly told them to back off.  Should someone dare to order a hot dog that Mugsy thought looked good, he would quickly demand it.  Mugsy felt that the city should be his to command and he said so.  Unfortunately, when he made his fierce demands, all that the humans heard were yipping sounds.

It had been hard for Mugsy to build up his self-confidence.  A poodle rarely gives off a vibe of terror.  Having a five year-old “owner” name him “Miss Princess Squeezey-Fluff” only exacerbated his problem.  He wondered how anyone, even a small girl, could have mistaken him for a female dog.  Granted, thanks to the brutal and medieval notions of his “owners”, Mugsy now lacked certain biological accoutrements.  However he liked to believe that his attitude and his imposing demeanor more than made up for his missing body parts. 

Then there was his genetic predisposition to being mocked.  Mugsy did not ask to be born as a tiny dog.  He did not ask for tufts of hair to pretend they were fur.  He didn’t ask for his weight to be less than a newborn child.  He certainly didn’t ask for his bark to be a high-pitched sound of annoyance.  Mugsy wanted to convey fear with his voice, not annoyance.  He wanted humans to quiver in terror when he talked down to them.  Instead they made noises like “tsk” or “sssh” and pushed his small body away with their shoes.  For seven years Mugsy had been looking at his reflection in the toilet bowl and every day he had wished he looked more like Ralph. 

Ralph was the fourteen year old lab that never left the house.  He might venture out onto the porch to bark at a bird or take care of business, but he didn’t leave the confines of the home.  Ralph weighed over one hundred pounds and had a low, menacing growl.  His “ruff” echoed off the high ceilings and empty walls.  When Ralph barked, the whole family knew it and they came running.  Ralph had a name that was short, simple, and gender-appropriate.  Mugsy would never understand why Ralph spent all his time at home on his giant green pillow.

Mugsy yearned to be outdoors.  Mugsy wanted to feel the grass underneath his pads as he plodded around the block.  Mugsy was enjoying that very activity when he came across a pit bull.  He had seen this dog before and neither of them cared much for the other.  Mugsy had the large man holding his leash back, while the black pit bull with muscular shoulders and a string of drool running down his chin had a chain link fence.  Feeling annoyed at the competitor’s massive weight compared to his, Mugsy’s ire was raised.  He looked as the pit bull snarled at him and wished he could have teeth as large and sharp.  Mugsy felt a growl building up in his throat.  He growled and yipped, only to have a piercing and masterful bark resonate back to him from the pit bull. 

ImageMugsy pulled angrily at the leash.  He tried to get as close to the fence as possible, but the middle-aged human in flip-flops, shorts, and a jersey was pulling him back.  The pit bull let loose another bark and Mugsy leaned forward.  The leash around his neck pulled him into a standing position; his two hind legs tried to walk closer to the fence while his front legs flailed about in midair.  Then, the pit bull did something it had never done in their previous confrontations.  He started to dig at the dirt underneath the fence while Mugsy continued yipping.

Mugsy was shocked at just how quickly the other dog could dig.  Piles of earth began flying to the left and right, soon there was enough room for the pit bull’s mouth and nose to eke under the fence.  Mugsy tried yipping louder and hoped that something would happen.  He wondered if he could perhaps deafen the pit bull.  The man pulled angrily at the leash.  “Oh, hush”, he said as he nearly lifted Mugsy into the air.  Mugsy had little choice; he could either stay put and likely choke, or go where this human commanded.  Turning his head and barking in defiance, the pit bull got further away and Mugsy noticed that it had stopped digging.

Back in the house, Mugsy shrugged off the leash, ran to the kitchen, and gobbled down as many little bone-shaped treats as his little stomach could handle.   He followed up with half a bowlful of water and then happily trotted into the living room.  As he suspected, Ralph was laying on his giant green pillow; the lab’s eyes unmoving and unimpressed with the daily activities.

“Had another eventful day outside, did you?” Ralph barked quietly.

“Kind of”, Mugsy replied.

“What happened this time?  Did Fido and you go at it again?”

“Dog, you wouldn’t have believed it.  I made myself known, yeah?  So I barked at him, yeah?  Showed him I wasn’t afraid of him, right?  Yeah?  Then he started digging!  He was digging and digging.  I tell ya Ralph.  He was digging and digging and digging.”

“Princess!” the human bellowed.  He was never a fan of the Mugsy’s yipping.  The man often wondered how his daughter’s dog was the one he always took for a walk when his dog took care of business without any help.  “Quiet!” 

“So”, Mugsy continued quieter, “I tried to challenge him.  He should have backed down.  You would have right?  That’s what dogs should do right?”

“Hnn”, Ralph replied.

“Right.  So I was pulling on that leash.  I pulled and I pulled.  I barked.  Dog, did I ever bark.  But then he started to get under the fence.  He dug deep.  He dug and he dug.”

“And”, Ralph asked as he started to close his eyes again.

“Man pulled me away.”

“Man saved your bacon”, Ralph corrected.

“Bacon?  There’s bacon?”

“Relax, dog.  Human phrase.”

“No bacon?”  Mugsy’s full stomach was forgotten.  The idea of bacon awoke a new hunger in him.

“No.  The Man helped.  That’s it.”

“Yeah, man help.  A little.  Man wanted to leave.  I couldn’t leave man.  Darn man.”

“That man and his leashed saved you.  Without the leash pulling at you, you’d be a squeaky-toy for Fido.”

“I’m tough!  Tough Mugsy am I!”

“Mugsy.”  Ralph looked his roommate in the eye.  He waited for the smaller dog to respond.

“Well”, Mugsy replied.  “Maybe man helped some.  But next time!”

The Pursuit

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Pursuit

The man with the red scarf tore through the forest as quickly as he could.  His breathing was becoming more and more labored.  He could feel his feet starting to give out.  But behind him came the sound of his pursuer.  He had to keep going.

The theft had gone off without a hitch.  The owner had been asleep when the man with the red scarf crept into the yard.  He had been worried about the resident of the house keeping a close guard on his treasured possession.  However, when the man with the red scarf slowly approached the entry to the home, he found the item he was searching for laying right in front of him.

The man with the red scarf shook his head.  Clearly the owner had grown complacent.  He couldn’t understand what the owner had been thinking.  For years he had tried to get the sacred item, the most-beloved of all the owner’s things away.  And yet, the owner had just left it sitting there.  Maybe he had thought after all the years he had his grubby paws on it that no one would dare to steal it away from him.  The man with the red scarf dared.  For years he had been thinking about taking the article.  It wasn’t so much that the man with the red scarf really wanted it.  His motivation was centered more around the owner not having it.  He was not a cruel man by nature, but in this situation, the man with the red scarf had had enough.

He looked to his attire yet again; he’d regretted his clothes ever since he’d left the house.  The blue jeans should have been black, his sweater was too warm, and his shoes squeaked if he stepped on any paved surface.  As obnoxious as it was, the red scarf was necessary.  The man had not had any hats that would have suited the task at hand and it was far too cold to go out without his face covered.  He took some comfort in the notion that it would be harder to recognize him with the lower-half of his head covered.  Still, the man was not convinced.  The one he was stealing from could see quite well in the dark.  The bright color of the scarf did not help, and there were ways to identify a man without glimpsing his chin or mouth.  The man with the red scarf reasoned that it was best to simply grab the spherical object and run.

Now, as he saw yet another set of tree branches try to scratch and attack him, the man with the red scarf wondered if he hadn’t underestimated the owner’s ability to run.  For every step he made in the grass and every tree that snapped under his feet, it seemed like he heard twice as many from his pursuer.  No real threats were thrown out from behind him; they were more of verbal challenges.  The barbs were short but fierce; a reminder that the one who had been stolen from could catch up to the thief whenever they got bored.  The man with the red scarf tried to convince himself that he was home free.  The door that only he had the key to was within sight.  He saw it and tried to pick up his pace.  Foolishly, the man with the red scarf chanced a glimpse behind him and was dismayed at what he saw.

The owner was picking up the pace.  Faster and faster the feet moved.  What had once been a playful trot was now a full-on sprint.  The man with the red scarf would be caught in mere seconds.  He felt himself tripping over a large rock and only just managed to stop himself from falling.  Growls came behind him only yards away.  The man with the red scarf tried for one last desperate burst of speed.  He could feel his lungs burning and the taste of adrenaline in his lungs.  He wanted to cough from the cold air that had been attacking its way through the scarf, but he couldn’t.  He gasped as he body gave out on him.  He was almost to the door.

That’s when it happened.  After a bark was sent out into the night, the man with the red scarf felt the owner pounce onto his upper back.  Both were sent crashing into the ground.  The owner was not a huge character, but he knew how to tackle someone.  The man with the red scarf knew that he had lost.  Whatever small chance there had been for him to enjoy his prize was entirely gone.  The owner had won.

The owner, his eyes and teeth gleaning with victory and the bright full moon, smiled down at the man with the red scarf.  He put a foot on the man’s face and stuck his tongue out.  The man with the red scarf tried to utter a plea, but the victor didn’t want speeches.  He wanted the spoils of the race returned to him and placed at his feet.

The man with the red scarf yielded.  He pushed the foot off of his mouth with his free hand and muttered, “Okay, okay”.  He took the old once-green tennis ball and threw it to the left of the Labrador.  Lance barked back at his master, licked him on the face, and retrieved the sphere.  He picked it up in his mouth and trotted happily back to his doghouse in the back yard.  The man took off the red scarf and sighed.  He couldn’t understand what Lance saw in that disgusting tennis ball.  It was gross.  He didn’t like tossing it.  He had tried so many other chew toys and bones, but Lance remained loyal to that ball.  The man opened the front door to his house, shaking his head.  He started considering chaining Lance to the dog house.  Either that or the man would have to get in better shape.

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