As part of a Fusebox Festival Kickstarter.com campaign reward in Austin, Texas, writer Timothy Braun designed four personalized walking adventures for the dogs of donors. This is the third of a four part series.
It was free comic book day when I picked up Amy’s dogs. I had a lavish plan. I got copies of comics called “Mouse Guard” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”, the latter featuring a gun slinging space raccoon named Rocket. I was going to take her two dogs, Ellie and Stanley, to a park and read to them under a tree like I was Tennyson in Tevas. I was certain the comic books would be just the right things because the dogs could relate to the fur-covered characters. “The dogs will just love it”, I thought. I’m a hopeless romantic, with, admittedly, a wild imagination. We were going to kick reality to the curb and rule this day.
Amy had rented their home for the weekend to Formula 1 racecar drivers. Thus we had to meet at their neighbor’s home, a hip structure in the coolest part of Austin, complete with a gorgeous swimming pool, fountains, and modern furniture. There was a cream Porsche in the driveway, everything looked like a Miami Vice episode, and I was underdressed. I came armed with two BarkBoxes to win the dogs over. Ellie is younger, about six, and more unruly. Stanley is thirteen and the size of a shaking flower. They are fluffy, friendly, but as we ate treats and got to know one another it became clear that sitting under a tree and reading comic books seemed like a perfectly fine adventure for Stanley, but Ellie needed some action, and I needed to get creative.
I walked the dogs one block past a construction site of the new Alamo Draft House, what is consistently considered the second best cinema in the country, right behind the ArchLight in Los Angeles. I explained to Ellie I saw my first movie in Austin there years ago on my birthday, “Grindhouse”, two stories of B-level explotation with zombies and murderous stunt drivers. Perhaps we could find an “off-leash” area, Stanley could lay in the grass, and Ellie and I could play a zombie-tag-wrestle game, something were I could make up the rules as we went along. They didn’t care. They took turns peeing on a neighbor’s mailbox.
Across the street a cop car came, with flashing lights and a blaring horn. This was the comic book adventure I knew we could find. Was it a crazed killer and the cops needed “The Three Amigos” to subdue him? Perhaps it was gangsters smuggling limes from Mexico, I have heard there is a lime shortage. Apparently, it was a run of the mill disturbing of the peace. Some one was blasting “Paul’s Boutique” a little too loud. Adam “MCA” Yauch died two year ago in this day of cancer.
We turned the corner and found a C.L.P. (cute little place) with a tin roof and some kind of silo. Dragon lilies littered the front lawn and this must have been the home for evil experiments on vegetation by a mad scientist, perhaps to grow fire-breathing plants to rule south central Austin. Ellie peed on the plants, putting out any chance of flames, as Stanley smelled some roses and sat down. As grand and heroic as I wanted to pretend our adventure could be, Stanley still has short legs and isn’t as young as he used to be. Neither am I, really. The three of us rested on the curb next to the flowers and played a new adventure I had just cooked up. I called it “Tummy Rubs”, which was quickly followed by “Who can lick Timmy’s face the most?” Ellie won that last game, but Stanley gets an honorable mention. The dogs didn’t care about great plans and designs, no creative adventures, only being in the moment that was. “Oh, don’t they look happy” said a woman walking by.
On our way back Stanley led me past the sports car and all the wonderful things to the front door of his home. I had to remind him we were at the neighbors for the morning. I checked the BarkBoxes to make certain they both got plush zucchini toys to chew on, and I said good-bye. It was silly to think that dogs needed more than what they ask for. On my way home I made a pit stop and gave the comic books to a boy I know. His parents are tangled in a bitter custody battle. His reality, his situation, is more complex than tummy rubs and flower sniffing. He needed a gun slinging space raccoon named Rocket more than two fluffy and friendly dogs who just want to smell the roses.