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Skunks & Angels
I asked my dog trainer to recommend a brand
of pepper spray after we were assaulted by a stray dog.
Reply from dog trainer:

"...one can buy skunk spray ... spray the nuisance dog to let the owners know that there are consequences"

Using skunk spray during off leash dog assaults
Thank you for the idea of skunk spray. I have had a bad run with those stench pots and may not follow up on obtaining the spray as the odor makes me nauseous. But I do like the effect it would have on the dog owner. That part is devilishly clever! Ohhh...how very clever.
Skunk spray brings back a flood of memories such as my first job, on old man Kaiser's chicken farm, at age 15. Raccoons killed the laying hens so he set a catch-em-alive trap. When caught he'd put the raccoon in a burlap feed sack to release at the town dump in Ridgefield, Conn. Mr. Kaiser's farm was shut down by the health dept a year after I graduated high school. So you can imagine the kind of place it was.

Mr. Kaiser was out on the road twice a week delivering eggs & fryers to his clients. He told me if the trap caught a skunk on the days he was out that I was to shoot it. One day there was a skunk in the trap. The rifle his roly-poly German wife handed me was the cheapest one sold in the Sears catalog. A a rusty single shot relic with the sights broken off. My first shot didn't kill and that  skunk sprayed. Man did it spray! Kaiser was mad at me because he had to empty that disgusting skunk sprayed trap when he came home. You try aiming a rifle without sights.
Skunks were common in Connecticut, as witnessed by the frequency they appeared as road kill. Ridgefield was all winding back roads that had been made from Indian trails that they had made following deer trails. New England was a maze of verdant new growth maple, birch, white oak, sumac, sassafras etc. California is a desert by comparison. It was almost tropical with rain throughout summer; forests everywhere because there were no housing developments or roads more than 2 lanes. (Neighboring town Redding had 5 acre zoning to prevent building)
The entire main street of Ridgefield was made "National Registry" after I left home. I grew up there in a 21 room Victorian on 3 acres, surrounded by woods. Ashland Cottage was built in 1825 as the rectory of St. Stevens Episcopal church. At the turn of the century it was the Three Pines Inn.

The British burned down St. Steven's during the revolutionary war's battle of Ridgefield. The rebuilt church, that I was baptized in, is something like you'd see in a National Geographic special about New England. In high school I joined an reenactment group as both a minuteman and sometimes a red coat member of "The Kings Own 4th of foot" regiment.  We did the battle of Ridgefield - firing cannons down the main street past my house. Horses, flint lock muskets, powder charges set in the earth to explode dirt simulating a cannon ball landing -we did it all. The crowd loved the exploding dirt along the route but you could never do that today! The legal liability of pyrotechnics near crowds would not be allowed. We accidentally shot George Washington's horse in the butt with the cannon wading. It was wet newspaper - like a big spit ball.

Why was I born & raised in Heaven only to be tossed into the ugly real world at age 18? What shock that was! Suddenly living in the lower east side of NYC in 1968 was like a vision of purgatory.

From age 18 until I was 54 there was constant turmoil, broken dreams, shattered hearts. I ran on a treadmill going to Hell before giving up on all that futility-fleeing the cities for this old farmhouse in a pasture,

Skunks. After High School I left to journey into the ugly real world. Our old family dog Pepper was hit by a car at age 17. The next spring a new dog showed up just the way Pepper had when I had been 3 years old. The dog simply appeared and stayed as if to say "Hello! I'm your replacement dog." On a weekend, home from school in New York, I named the collie mix "Aries" after my zodiac sign and because he had a white flare in the shape of a ram's horns on his head.

Aries was my parent's dog as a companion for their empty nest. I'm not really rambling; the connection with skunks is here. Aries loved skunks! He regularly hunted them and got sprayed. Year after year Aires would be banished to live in the cellar (where his dog entrance was) until the stench wore off.

But then he'd get sprayed again. Aries was a wonderful dog except for skunks.

When my mother died I went home for the funeral. "Don't let Aires out at night or he'll get sprayed again by a skunk" my dad warned. After too much bourbon I forgot. Sure enough, Aires got sprayed that night by a skunk and couldn't come to my mom's funeral.

Enough about skunks.
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Tyler the babe magnet
It is too bad I'm obese now that I have Tyler. Women don't like fat men any more than anyone likes fat people. But with Tyler all these really nice women are cooing over him in public with "What a pretty dog!" If I was thin and cute like I once was there would be all kinds of fireworks with some of these women. Now I am too old, fat, and gone to seed.

Tonight the bagger at the supermarket, a very sweet bright eyed young lady, spent 10 minutes at my car pawing over Tyler! She examined his teeth twice, telling me how big he will grow, showing how to massage the sweet spot on the temples at the entrance to his ears. Showed me cell phone pictures of her German Shepherd. Said she'd had shepherds all her life and loved them.

Her childhood shepherd had such a gentle mouth he played with flies. Her dog caught flies, held them in his mouth, then released them to fly about! When the flies were killed from his game he'd sadly spit them into her hand —remorseful that he killed his little fly friends. She said it was amazing how innocent he was.
Who is this lovely young lady, sweet as wildflower honey, sharing childhood memories to me in a dark parking lot after a winter rain storm? Is she another Angel entering my life to remind me that I am already dead living in Heaven or is alerting me of my coming departure from this earth?

She declared several times that Tyler is a very pretty dog. That phrase now means this to me: "Tyler is an Angel on earth given to you by the souls of your departed cats Spot, Rusty, Zircon, and Cougar. Tyler's soul is comprised of those beloved cat souls transformed by God into their next stage of spiritual evolution—this dog. Tyler is your dog spirit, part of your soul. Everyone who compliments him is another Angel reminding you of the very special gift you have received."

While shopping, minutes earlier, an 8 year old girl  wanted to hug my dog. She explained that her father had a police dog shepherd she dearly loved. The dog was killed when it ran out in front of a car. She told me how much she misses her German shepherd. I was incredulous to be in the presence of such an emotionally articulate child. She must have been another Angel that looks over Tyler.

What If I lost 200 pounds of my fat? I could probably have more than just a companion dog; I could have a girlfriend again. Oh no. That would be the emotional equivalent of going back to drinking alcohol after my 19 years of sobriety. Girlfriends lead to emotional intimacy which leads to other intimacies, and then ends in disaster.

It is important to be careful not to want what I don't have. Tyler often reminds me of something Lao Tzu said:

There is no greater sin than desire,
No greater curse than discontent,
No greater misfortune than wanting something for oneself.
Therefore he who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
[Lao Tzu]

Yes, of course; "He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough." Tyler and the other furry Angels on this farm are blessings from beyond earth. They are enough. (More than enough.)

I must be dead and this must be Heaven. Otherwise how can I explain the existence of Tyler? Angels are all about me whispering in delight at their gift; "What a pretty dog!" All of Heaven exclaims their achievement; "What a pretty dog".

Yes, "What a pretty dog!" One with a soul as gentle as a lamb. A dog who evokes the 23rd Psalm - "The lord is my German shepherd, I shall not bark..."

Rusty
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