This picture reminded me of a pet I had when I was growing up. It’s name was Blaze and it was an x-ray machine . . .
Just kidding. He was actually an extremely overweight chocolate Labrador. Not like he was a cute puppy, turned rugged youthful hunting-dog, turned old overweight sage-dog. He was chubby at birth and fat by age one. It was my dad’s fault really, because when we went to pick him out of a litter of seven chocolate Labs, my sister and I immediately went for the one who was jumping all over the other puppies and had this look in his eyes that said, “I never stop moving! Ever!”
If it were a movie, my father would have stared up into the sky with a blank look on his face and on the screen would appear a glimpse of the future with my father aiming a shotgun at a full grown dog doing laps around our backyard with my little sister in its mouth, while I stood behind him screaming, “But he’s my best friend! What has Catherine ever done for me!”
So in an act of parental authority, my father chose the only puppy in the box that was sleeping. This would come to be the predominant theme in Blaze’s long, tiring life. He would spend ten hours a day laying on the carpet in the living room, moving every hour or so in accordance with the patch of sun coming through the bay windows. He would also move if he farted, proving that he wasn’t too lazy to use common sense. Oddly, though, if he had to sneeze he didn’t find it worthwhile to stand up – he would just bang his nose on the floor with the force of a hefty sneeze behind it.
Much like the dog in the picture, Blaze also had an affinity for eating things, items both edible and potentially poisonous. He held no prejudice for color or texture (although the box of crayons certainly spruced up our dull backyard). He did, however, hold a special place in his heart for socks. For the first three years we owned him, you could, at any time of the day, hear my mother scream, “Missing sock!” at which point everyone would stop what they were doing and try to catch the dog before he swallowed someone’s innocent sock. Often we were able to recover them. Sometimes they ended up in the back lawn where my sister and I would hover over it both grossed out and in awe of our dog.
Among his other digestive feats was a box full of metal key chains, a Barbie doll’s head (producing one of the more indelible childhood memories, seeing it atop a pile of crap in the yard), an entire roast beef and a bag of coffee left under the Christmas tree. In time, we got very good at hiding anything edible, knowing how far to keep food in towards the center of the table, securing low-level cabinets with ties as though he were a child and we were trying to keep him out of the Ajax. However, we were never sure what else he might eat, so we ended up keeping anything smaller than a baseball on high shelves for most of my childhood, meaning if there was no one in the house tall enough to reach my toys for me I ended up playing with Tupperware or pillows.
The point is, Blaze is remembered predominately as a very fat chocolate Lab who, on many occasions, looked and acted like a drowsy seal. And that’s an accurate description, unless he was outside in which case he was “the grazing cow.” (Yes, he ate the lawn.) But I’m positive that if he had known that all he had to do to become a national celebrity and get a story on CNN.com was swallow a 12-inch ginsu knife, he would have done it. And not because he would have wanted to be famous – but because he knew that I would have wanted to be famous.
And he was just that kind of dog.