ode to laika

April 6, 2009

A couple years after Kim and I got married, we moved into a terrible, rundown, little pink house in a swanky area. Like I’ve mentioned, this swanky area had some stinky holdouts, like the house we were renting, and the house to our south.

The house to our south housed a family that had lived in the Provo Riverbottoms for generations, probably in this same house, which had been additioned to death, including my favorite house edition, making the garage a room, but not getting rid of the garage door. Love that. Wish I had a picture.

These guys had a horse or two, and a large pen in the lower backyard where they housed a couple dozen geese. Who keeps geese? Are goose eggs yummy? My dog Laika educated me on why geese are good to keep.

Kim and I didn’t have kids the first couple years of marriage, since we figured we should get to know each other a bit first. But after a year or two, we knew each other sufficiently to experiment a little. Not like that. We wanted to see if we were ready to have kids. So, of course, we got a puppy.

I guess we expected hinky kids, because we got a hinky dog.

I had never had a dog. Ever. I wish someone had told me not to get a Siberian Husky, but I was overwhelmed with those cold steel blue eyes. We named him Laika after we watched My Life As a Dog, where the kid keeps wondering about the Russian space dog, Laika. He figures his life, as hard as it is, never gets as bad as Laika’s, since Laika was sent into space to die. Which seems a healthy way to look at life.

Anyway, we probably would have been better off if we had sent our Laika into space to die.

Despite our dottering love, Laika ran away constantly. Our “yard” had only rudimentary fencing, which I continually reinforced with chicken wire, but Laika would find a way to squeeze through the small holes, like a mouse. I don’t know how many times someone called us and said “hey, I think I have your dog.” We’d go pick him up, thanking the finder, who would invariably say “he’s sure beautiful.” Yeah, whatever. Thanks a lot.

The crazy neighbors had a little boy who thought it was funny to open the gate to our backyard and let Laika out. I hated that boy. I still hate that boy. Maybe I’ll use Facebook to find him and tell him how much I hate him, like the reverse of people looking people up on Facebook to apologize. Like that.

One late afternoon, middle of winter, that kid opened the gate, which I know, because, well, the gate was open. It was dark and snowing, so I got a flashlight and followed Laika’s tracks. You know. Like an Indian tracker.

I followed the tracks with my head down until they descended into the neighbor’s back yard when it became pretty apparent where they were headed–the geese.

Laika and I saw each other at roughly the same time. I shined the flashlight on his face, from which hung the neck and body of a big plump goose. Still squirming. Laika smiled at me (I swear), gave the goose a solid shake to kill it, and immediately chased down another one.

As I swept the flashlight around to follow him, I saw the carnage of about a dozen already dead geese. He wasn’t eating them or anything–he just liked grabbing them by the neck and killing them. Woo hoo.

He managed to kill 2 or 3 more before I got hold of him.

It turns out the neighbor kept geese because there is a market for stuffed geese, which people then hang from their ceilings like Lego space ships, or mount on mantles. I know this because when I went to apologize, he invited me in to the living room, where he had a stuffed cougar raised in attack position, a bear’s head above the fireplace, and several huge stuffed geese hanging from the ceiling, like a flock heading south. Except they weren’t. Heading south.

Also turns out that he used to sell those stuffed geese for $25 each. All told, Laika killed about $300 worth. At a time when I was making about $18,000 a year.

Turns out having a dog is WAAAY better in the idea than the execution. Like a lot of things I guess. You know. Cold Fusion. Unprotected teenage sex. Multi-level marketing. Sarah Palin.

The next time Laika ran away and nobody called, we just called it good. Kind of like sending him into space.

19 Responses to “ode to laika”

  1. KanyonKris Says:

    Podium! oops, wrong blog.

    That’s all I got today.

    Good story.

  2. mark Says:

    “Turns out having a dog is WAAAY better in the idea than the execution.”

    And yet you went on to get another one? No wonder you skipped skiing Saturday. Remind me to never, ever trust your judgment again.

  3. Jenny-Jenny Says:

    Yikes. Sometimes I wish we could send ours into space. At least we don’t have dead geese to add to his repertoire.

  4. bikemike Says:

    man, brother, that’s the most round about story to segway into sarah palin and unprotected teenage sex that one will ever read. that is what this story was about, right?

    freaking funny…my republican buddies don’t like when i diss on the palinator.

    dogs, (like/especially) cats are wayyyyy overated.

  5. JB Says:

    My oldest boy who is a senior at Colo.State decided getting a dog would be a good thing. After reading your blog maybe I should have suggested a pregnant girlfriend. No, anyway, that dog is a huskie and is a beautiful dog but is an escape artist. David has told me that his dog is however a pretty good “chick magnet” when he is out on walks. I told him it was him since he is graduating and already has a JOB!!!!

  6. Rob Says:

    Am I the only one that thinks $25 to raise, feed, kill, stuff, mount a goose is kind-of inexpensive?

    • steveA Says:

      good thing for Dug!

    • tohellandback1st Says:

      $25 to raise and feed a goose. Laika took care of the killing, which kinda pre-empted the stuffing and mounting…

      interesting that, after Laika, they decided to go ahead and have kids anyway : )

      i kid…

  7. forgingahead Says:

    I was watching some coverage of the Iditarod the other day and thinking to myself, “those dogs sure do love to run!” Seems like I was right.

  8. Steve Says:

    Turns out having a dog is WAAAY better in the idea than the execution.

    Actually, it is often an execution that is required if you have a dog.

    but we keep getting them. dogs return to their own vomit. we return to… umm, dogs.

  9. zeph Says:

    when Laika didn’t return from the final jail break…did you check the neighbors wall to see if he was mounted next to one of the geese he choked out?

  10. Rachel Says:

    So, shouldn’t you have made the kid do odd jobs for you to pay you back for the $300 you paid to his father. Since it was his fault. I’m guessing you didn’t argue that point?

  11. BurkeInTheOzarks Says:

    I second Rachel’s comment. I mean, who let the dog out? Who-who-who-who-who?

    Sorry about that.

  12. Mary Says:

    Dang, I was ready to cry because I thought I saw the end of that story coming…

    haha. I don’t know why I would cry though. Someone left our fence gate open today and I really wanted to wail when I found out the dog DID NOT run away. I gotta leave the gate open more often.

  13. Bob B. Says:

    I remember watching that stupid dog bolt when we’d get out of the car on the way to Moab. Part of me thinks the dog died right away, but there’s a dark part of me that thinks that dog is still alive, running for owner to owner, killing geese. Like a chupacabra.


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