Playing with Cujo


Now I want to watch the movie again!!

Chris Erskine

Chris Erskine

October 17, 2009

In my new book "Cujo and Me," I talk about how much we love our 300-pound beagle, even after he nearly gnawed off my left leg, thinking it was his own. Pets are so important to a home.
Yep, Cujo is a chewer all right. The other morning, he coughed up a train set that had been missing for five years. So, no, he’s not perfect. Who among us is?
In "Cujo and Me," I explain how we inherited the dog from the lovely and patient older daughter, who moved home recently, bringing Cujo and about $3,000 in hair care products, 40 bushels of scarves. If there’s one thing young women like, it’s hair and scarves. I guess that’s two things.
Anyway, she brings home the beagle, Cujo, whom I never really cared for, as I don’t like other males in the house unless I’m legally bound. Cujo, turns out, eats four meals a day and goes out about 60 times. It’s how he keeps his weight down, probably.
Like most dogs, the 300-pound beagle is very careful about his diet. For breakfast, he prefers a nice bowl of botulism. For lunch, he’ll sneak one or two of my shoes. At dinner, he rewards himself a little. Yesterday, he ate my wife’s new vacuum. There’s also a portion of the baseboard near the front door that he uses as a salt lick. After about 15 minutes of that, he orders out Chinese.
So, yeah, Cujo has a little belly. Who doesn’t? The lovely and patient older daughter says it’s the product of bad genes, but I’ve lived too long to fall for that old excuse. His generous girth is the product of a savage appetite and the kind of hedonism you don’t see much in America anymore. Lucky us.
In appearance, Cujo increasingly resembles a very hairy beer keg. On our constant walks, he stops only to eat chicken bones that have spilled from the neighbors’ garbage. And Halloween decorations.
"Don’t eat that!"
"Crunch-crunch-crunch-crunch-crunch. . . . "
As he ages, he looks a little like Orson Welles, mostly around the chin and eyes. It is the look of what might have been.
Yet he is strong, the strongest beast ever to pull me helplessly around a cul-de-sac. On walks, he lunges forward ferociously on all four legs, as if headed for Fairbanks. In a perfect world, he’d be hauling coal cars in Latvia.
"Easy. Easy! EASYYYYYYY!!!!!" I calmly urge.
God forbid Cujo spots another dog, or a person, or a tree waving in the wind that he thinks might be French fries. (Did I mention he’s half-blind?) In those cases, he goes completely ape. He will pull on the leash until he cuts off his own windpipe and begins to cough and spasm.
When he finally passes out, I carry him home in 30-second bursts, as if cradling an oak stump. Usually, he stirs awake about halfway back. He thanks me by nibbling at my ear and trying to suck out my brains.
Meanwhile, we have this other pet — I think he’s a cat, though he might be a raccoon, or some derivation of the Norway rat.
What a rascal.
Pets give a house a very homey feel, so I am very glad to have this cat-rat-coon, who bounces from couch to chair to my ever-growing lap, usually with the 300-pound beagle in hot pursuit, knocking over vases and lamps. Sooooo cute.
"We’re very blessed," I tell my wife.

"To have so many animals," I say.
"Um, that’s your youngest son," she says.
Oh. I guess that explains the jeans and the baseball cap. The little dude sure can fetch.
Misunderstandings like this often crop up in a family, and I think you just need to roll with them. Turns out the cat-rat-coon was really our first-grader. From what I understand, they’re all God’s creatures, even the teenagers.
I blame my fading eyesight for the pets vs. kids confusion. After 120 years of marriage, my eyes are going and my wife’s hearing too, which is probably fortunate for both of us. A little disconnect can be good for a marriage. It’s almost sexy.
For example, the other night, after a romantic evening on the couch watching Florida crush LSU, my wife handed me a children’s goody bag and led me gently to the front door.
"Thanks for coming to the party," she said.
"Thanks for inviting me," I said, sneaking a peek into my goody bag (plastic Slinky, cheap yo-yo, SweeTarts).
First I got the prize, then I got the goody bag.
Honestly, I don’t know why every man doesn’t marry.


Calendar says fall, but the temperatures rise

Fall Gavin Raath, 28, of Flint, Mich., does a handstand on a balance beam at Venice Beach. Friday’s high temperatures perplexed many Southern Californians because they followed a Pacific storm that soaked the region.

Fall1 Meanwhile, in the local mountains…

The stores may be stocked with Halloween costumes and the ski runs may be open at Mammoth Mountain, but the weather was anything but fall-like Friday as temperatures soared throughout Southern California.
From the bleachers of Dodger Stadium to the shores of Oxnard, the mercury reached the high 90s and even the low triple digits in some places as a heat wave enveloped the region. And today could be a repeat as forecasters said temperatures wouldn’t begin to dip until Sunday.
The spike in temperatures — it reached 98 degrees in downtown Los Angeles — perplexed many Southern Californians because it followed quickly on the heels of a Pacific storm that soaked the region and allowed Mammoth Mountain to open on one of its earliest days ever.
The onslaught of heat was caused by a ridge of high pressure over Nevada and Utah that pushed warm, dry air across Southern California, according to Joe Sirard, a National Weather Service meteorologist. The conditions brought record temperatures to some areas.
It reached 100 degrees in Oxnard; the previous record of 98 was set in 1997. Nearby Camarillo also saw a record reading of 100.
While Phillies fans huddled in 40-degree temperatures back home, Dodgers fans sipped ice drinks, donned sunscreen and viewed the team’s 2-1 victory through their shades. Despite the heat, downtown L.A. still fell six degrees short of its 1958 record for the date.
A couple of hundred miles north at Mammoth Mountain, more than a dozen runs were packed with early-season snow enthusiasts. Sun umbrellas protected skiers and boarders as they munched burgers between runs.
"It was an absolutely gorgeous day," said Dan Hansen of Mammoth Mountain. "It was one of the earliest openings ever. We got the top of the mountain open."
Hansen said parking lots began to fill before dawn as 4,500 people descended on the slopes. He said there would be even more snow as temperatures dipped in coming days.
The high pressure will continue to produce high temperatures across the coast and the San Fernando Valley today. Downtown L.A. is expected to chalk up another day in the 90s, as will Pasadena and other parts of the San Gabriel Valley. Forecasters say it will be cooler Sunday through Tuesday.

The weather here has been crazy!  Especially having to change clothes three times a day.  I wish Mother Nature would make up her mind.  I met her once and she can be mean!  I tried to talk to Charlotte today about watering every day, even when it’s raining, and she just walked indoors and LOCKED her door!!!  What’s with that?  I’ll have to talk with her Redneck son.  Speaking of Rednecks, Redneck number two’s brother just got out of prison so now I have three!!

Hope you’re having a nice weekend.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Playing with Cujo

  1. Joe says:

    I’m with you about mother nature…we’re in the seventies today…which I surely love however I know that the other shoe is going to fall then I dread what’s to come. Have a great weekend my friend!

  2. Jade says:

    how are your doggies?

  3. Sue says:

    Love the article about the 300-pound beagle! Just saw the movie, "Monsters vs. Aliens" last night and the character Bob in the movie reminded me of you! HA! It’s quite a funny movie, even though it is annimated. Hope your weekend is good and that the Angels beat those nasty Yankees (which doesn’t look good so far…).

  4. Jill says:

    boy2 and his friends drove 5 hours to be at mammoth when it opened; snowboarded all day; and drove home that night. they had a BLAST!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s