I love my dog. His name is Hairy Kerry. We tried to be clever with his name.
I love my wife. She loves baseball. And she is arguably the biggest Chicago Cubs fan who has never lived in Chicago. Every year we purchase the MLB package. She watches all 162 regular season games from April to September. A grueling 26-week season of 3+ hour games that relentlessly persists until the October Playoffs. If a dirge were a sport, it would be baseball.
As only true Cubs’ fans can appreciate, September tends to be the end of their season most years. But, in recent years, play has extended into Cubtober. And, of course, who can forget 2016 when they broke the Curse of the Billy Goat? My wife has been notably quoted as saying, besides our wedding day and the birth of our children, the Cubs’ World Series win on November 2, 2016 was the best day of her life.
I like baseball. I do not love baseball. Putting aside all arguments about whether, like golfers, baseball players are real athletes or not, the relentless spitting makes me want to puke.
In their search for something – anything – to fill the tedium of baseball’s plodding pace, the TV cameras always seem to land on fake left fielder, Jose Sciuridae, hawking a wad of sunflower seeds down his drool-slick chin like some chipmunk colossus on steroids. *GAG*
Or fabricated first baseman, Ryan Kotmund, spitting black tongue cancer from his chewing tobacco-packed gob. Usually the sticky, stringy type of saliva that sticks to his lip like a graphic scene from some black-market German porn. *BARF*
But my wife adores her Cubbies. In particular, she treasures legendary Cubs sportscaster, Harry Caray, who called games for the Cubs beginning from 1981 to 1997.
As much caricature as maven, Harry Caray delighted baseball fans when singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch. Renowned for his trademark eyeglasses as well as his love of Budweiser beer, Harry liked to drink. A lot. Rumor has it that employees of Wrigley Field had to hold him by his feet during the stretch to prevent him from falling out of the press box.
Comedian, Will Ferrell, lampooned his eccentricities many times on Saturday Night Live. Genius.
Etymology of Hairy Kerry
With my wife’s Cubsession now firmly established, we thusly bestowed the honorific of Harry Caray four years ago on our new fur baby. Here is the etymology of how we landed on Hairy Kerry.
- Too clever for our own good. We felt “Hairy” was the fuzzy puppy version of human Harry. Made even cuter when you know his full forename is Hairold. I know! Totes adorbs.
- Caray was Harry’s stage name. His given surname was Carabina. Neither epithet really fit for our little man, whose breeder first called him Kanye. After Kanye West. Three reasons why we did not stay with Kanye. One, Kanye West is a nutjob. Two, a rural white breeder naming a black dog “Kanye” felt…mmm… kinda racist to us. Three, Kanye West is a nutjob. Fourth, Kanye Conway? Aurally insufferable.
- As you may recall, my wife and I have a mild obsession with our Irish heritage. We have sojourned to the Motherland several times in our lives, and we feel very connected to County Kerry, the Ring of Kerry, The Dingle Peninsula, and the town of Killarney. Some of the most scenic places on earth. And for the inexperienced American driver, a feckin’ white-knuckled driving experience you will never forget!
- Kerry sounds identical to Caray. But it becomes more wistfully nostalgic when spelled as the Irish “Kerry.” Again, behold our satirical sagacity. As Oscar Wilde said, “I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.”
Welcome to the world, Hairy Kerry Conway.
WTF is a Cavachon?
Hairy is a Cavachon. This designer dog is not an American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized breed. It is a mutt. A lady in Ireland once referred to her scruffy mongrel as a Bitsa (bitsa this and bitsa that). But dumbasses like us fork over a lot of cash to know that a purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel father and a purebred Bichon Frise mother humped out some adorable progeny. Ergo, Cava-chon.
That is the breed’s curb appeal. Cuteness like a curly teddy bear come to life. Cuteness like a petite Ewok transplanted from Endor. The attraction is instantaneous.
Hairy ratchets the cute up to epic levels with his eyebrows. Because he is a tri-color – black, white, with some tan markings typically along the face – his distinctive dirty-white eyebrows are quite prominent. They give him a range of facial expression from excitement to contempt. It took us an adjustment period to acclimate to his uncanny eyebrows. Even when he relaxes, his eyebrows sit naturally lowered, and he looks concerned. Maybe even pissed off. It’s intense.
Eyebrows aside, that suave exterior is a manifestation of his sweet personality. All licks and snuggles and wags. His sole raison d’être is to give and receive love. When I am home, he is my furry shadow. As I type, Hairy lies inches behind the wheel of my office desk chair, waiting for me to back over him – again – as though it never happened before. I said sweet. Not smart.
And for dog lovers with major pet allergies, the Bichon bitch passes along low-dander (quasi hypoallergenic) qualities that allow most allergy sufferers to tolerate the plush Cavachon fur and copious licks without anaphylaxis closing their windpipe. Hairy and I can get down on the floor and tussle without me worrying about exploding in hives post-play. And we have some epic scraps with each other, the likes of which make Beowulf’s heroic battles with Grendel and Aglæcwif seem as exciting as attending a yawning symposium.
Hairy is content to chillax all day – eating, napping, and shitting – provided he gets a walk. He knows this daily ritual usually occurs between 4-5 pm every day. Hairy can tell time? Yes, only because we bought him a watch for Christmas.
It begins with him sitting and staring at me to the point where I can feel those intense eyes on me. His tail cranks audibly back and forth like a whip. He mumbles and grumbles. He is too pretty to whimper. Eyebrows at full furrow, the face says, “C’mon, ass hat. Time to walk.”
And then the real fun begins. The dance of joy.
Hairy dances. His long tail acts like a rudder, balancing him for long periods on his hind legs. And he smiles. A giant, shit-eating grin spreads across his face as he shimmies his shoulders like a professional rumba dancer. If god exists, the utter elation Hairy emanates must be an earthly reflection of that god’s love. Radiant. Pure. Bliss.
Harness and leash donned, we’re off.
For the first ten minutes of every walk, Hairy smiles over his shoulder every minute at me as though to say, “This is the best. Right, daddy?” He prances. Proudly strutting, head held high, tail erect and curled. The neighborhood dogs go bat shit, running back and forth across their yards, barking hysterically. Hairy could not give a tinker’s damn. He barely graces them a sidelong glance as we parade by.
As his jubilance luxuriates over me, I enter a Zenlike state. The warm summer sun swaddles me in a hug. The breeze cools my sweaty brow. My senses heighten to absorb the birdsong, consume the smells of barbecue, watch the bees buzzily cavort. I am one with my dog.
The physical activity enters autopilot as we subconsciously meander our suburban trails. For me, it is the perfect time to think. Clear my mind and reflect on the deep questions the universe presents to us. Questions that require us to ponder the nature of our own existence. The big questions. The deep stuff. Real important shit.
But sometimes Hairy has a way of shredding those moments like an unguarded Sunday newspaper. Let me share a few such deep questions and the ensuing interruptions.
What is the value of your dignity?
Hairy just took a dump in his favorite grassy spot off the trail in our nearby park. He performed his ritualistic “Circles” routine, where he spins in circles as he makes waste, spreading his little fertilizer all over the grass. My little gardener. Oh wait. Oh no. A final turd is stuck by what appears to be a… hair? Is he eating hair? Dangling midair from his bunghole. He looks confused and continues to spin in circles, seeking to see the abnormality he so clearly can feel.
What to do? What to do?
No one can see my handsome dog sporting a dingleberry. Panic sets in, and I reach for the hair to free the turd. I am not wearing my glasses. Manopause sucks. I miss the hair and grab full wet turd. It smushes moistly between my fingers. It’s still hot. I scream, “Motherfucker!” and start violently wiping my hand in the grass as Hairy starts barking at me. An old couple passes by on the path, once smiling at us, now gaping in horror at our literal shit show.
If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?
You bet your sweet bippy it does. The trail takes us through a massive copse of thick forest. The air gets cooler and the ambient light dims. All is quiet. In the trees, something is moving in Mirkwood. Hairy and I freeze, and he looks up at me. We know what it is. Spiders. Giant spiders. I reach for Sting and realize I do not have a sword. Nor am I Bilbo Baggins.
At that exact moment, a tree falls in the woods with a thundering crash. As god is my witness, I swear Hairy screamed like a panicked goat, as did I. Ok, maybe it was just me. Either way, he leapt into my arms, eyes wide with abject terror, and I ran as fast as I could, carrying my traumatized canine papoose to the safety of the park beyond this clearly haunted wood. Nothing could stop me from saving my boy. I could change my piss-soaked pants when we arrived home later.
How do you know you are not dreaming right now?
Hot Mom is walking her purebred poodle, Lady, toward Hairy and me down the path. While I am happily married and Hairy has no scrotum, we still don’t want to look like schlemiels in front of the ladies. Chests puffed; we approach. As compliant non-Covidiots, Hot Mom and I stop walking an appropriate social distance away.
As the bipeds commence mindlessly chit-chatting about the weather, the quadrupeds warily approach each other on their leashes, closing the gap between us. A few sniffs of each other’s assholes, and Lady haughtily finishes with Hairy. Apparently, the fun has just begun for him. As she turns away, Hairy lifts his leg and begins pissing all over her. Hairy! NO! Chaos ensues.
Lady goes ballistic and plows into Hot Mom, knocking her off the trail into some thick plants. Uh oh. Poison ivy? Startled, Hairy barrels into me. I bend to settle him, and rip a fart, the majesty of which can only be explained by a snarfed lunch of three bean burritos at Taco Bell a few hours earlier. No quiero, Taco Bell. Heavier than air, the rancid fart wafts across Hot Mom’s flared nostrils as she extracts herself from the brambles. “What the fuck is wrong with you and your fucking dog?” she screams. Perhaps a smidge dramatically if you ask me. And storms off.
Epilogue: Hot Dad, her seven-foot-tall husband, shoves me in the grocery store parking lot later that day and says to stay away from his wife and dog. No hay problema, jefe.
Existential SNL philosopher, Jack Handey, once said,
“I hope if dogs ever take over the world, and they choose a king, they don’t just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas.”
Not sure what that has to do with this article. Just a witty quote about the potential of small dogs. Why do you care? Indulge me.
I love my small dog. His name pays homage to my wife’s Cubsession. Covid has either shortened baseball season to 60 games or canceled it completely this year. While I am beyond satisfied with both options, my wife is crestfallen. Hairy Kerry is a loving cuddle away from helping her cope with a real loss.
My small dog loves me. Our walks are essential for him. They have become essential for me. His endless capacity for love helps me fleetingly forget the fucking insanity of Covid-19, American post-truth politics, and the anxiety of managing so much uncertainty.
It is a metaphysical symbiosis. Love sits squarely in the center of it all. Love so limitless, pure, and unadulterated that you grow certain that god must be a dog. I mean, they are heteropalindromes, after all. Coincidence? I wonder.
Which leaves us with the biggest philosophical question of all: Which would you rather be – an unhappy human being or a happy dog? Now that you have met my little buddy, Hairy Kerry Conway, do you have any concerns as to how you would answer this question?
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