Dave Barry

Taking the zip out of Zippy

This Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, July 17, 1988

I regularly get letters from irate MacNeil-Lehrer- watching readers who ask: "With all the serious problems facing the world, how come you write about your dogs?" To which I answer: Because I don't know anything about your dogs. Also -- you can call me an idealist if you want, but this is my opinion -- by writing about my dogs, I believe that I can bring my readers -- rich and poor, young and old, intelligent and "lite"-beer drinking -- to a greater awareness of, and appreciation for, my dogs. I want my dogs to someday be at least as famous as Loni Anderson. I want them to receive lucrative offers for major motion pictures based on their True Life Adventures.

This week, for example, our adventure is entitled:


This adventure began when Zippy went through puberty, a biological process that a small dog goes through in less time than it takes you to throw away your Third Class mail. One minute Zippy was a cute little-boy puppy, scampering about the house playfully causing permanent damage to furniture that is not yet fully paid for; and the next minute he was: A Man. When the new, mature version of Zippy sauntered into a room, you could almost hear the great blues musician Muddy Waters in the background, growling:

I'm a MAN

(harmonica part)

Yes I AM

(harmonica part)


Of course in Zippy's case, "full-grown" means "the size of a Hostess Sno-Ball, yet somehow less impressive." But in his own mind, Zippy was a major stud muffin, a hunk of burnin' love, a small-caliber but high-velocity Projectile of Passion fired from the Saturday Night Special of Sex. And his target was: Earnest.

Earnest is a female dog, but she was not the ideal choice for Zippy, because all of her remotely suspicious organs had been surgically removed several years ago. Since that time she has not appeared to be even dimly aware of sex, or much of anything else. Her lone hobby, besides eating, is barking violently at nothing. Also she is quite large; when she's standing up, Zippy can run directly under her with an easy six inches of clearance. So at first we were highly amused when he started putting The Moves on her. It was like watching Tommy Tadpole hit on the Queen Mary.

But shortly the novelty wore off and we started feeling sorry for Earnest, who spent the entire day staring glumly off into dog hyperspace while this tireless yarn-ball-sized Lust Machine kept leaping up on her, sometimes getting as high as mid-shin, and emitting these presumably seductive high-pitched yips ("What's your sign? What's your sign?"). So we decided it was time to have the veterinarian turn the volume knob of desire way down on the stereo system of Zippy's manhood. If you get my drift.

The next morning Earnest was limping, so we decided to take both dogs to the vet. They bounded enthusiastically into the car, of course; dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear. When we got to the veterinarian's office they realized they had been tricked and went into Full Reverse Thrust, but fortunately the floor material there is slippery enough to luge on. So when we last saw Zippy and Earnest that morning, they were being towed, all eight legs scrabbling in a wild, backward, futile blur, into: the Back Room.

When we picked them up that night, they were a pair of hurtin' cowpokes. Earnest, who had a growth removed, was limping badly, plus we had to put a plastic bag on her leg so she wouldn't lick her stitches off. And Zippy, to keep him from getting at his stitches, was wearing a large and very comical round plastic collar that looked liked a satellite dish with Zippy's head sticking out the middle. He had a lot of trouble getting around, because his collar kept hitting things, such as the ground.

For the next week, if you came to our front door, here's what happened: You heard the loud barking of two dogs going into Red Alert mode, but you did not see any immediate dogs. Instead you heard a lot of bumping and clunking, which turned out to be the sound of a large dog limping frantically toward you but suffering a major traction loss on every fourth step because of a plastic bag, combined with the sound of a very small dog trying desperately to keep up but bonking his collar into furniture, doorways, etc. And then, finally, skidding around the corner, still barking, there appeared the dynamite duo: Bagfoot and Satellite Head.

During this week we were not the least bit worried about burglars, because if anyone had tried to break into our house, we would have found him the next morning, lying in a puddle of his own drool. Dead from laughter.

© 2010, Dave Barry

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