Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Canine Couture

     I've heard of e-mail, snail mail, and DHL, Pony Express, UPS, and Federal Express. I've gotten insured delivery, special delivery, overnight delivery, registered delivery, sent air mail and forwarded mail, Santa mail and pen- pal mail, but I've never, ever seen or heard of doggie mail.
        Until late Saturday afternoon.
        That was the day a  doggie delivery arrived at the front door of Walnut Street. I'm not talking about the kind of doggie package that you should scoop up in a bag and dispose of in the trash. This was a real life, honest-to-goodness package, an eight-by-ten padded manilla envelope with sufficient postage stamped in the upper right hand corner, return address correctly written in the left corner, properly taped and sealed and stuffed in the official, regulation-sized, federally-approved, United States Postal System mailbox.
     It was a rather inocuous looking package, but the address caught my eye. It was not addressed to my father or mother. Not addressed to me or Sissey. Not addressed to any human being who presently or formerly, in this life or any other, had ever occupied this residence. Written in bold letters across the front of the envelope, plain as day, right there for the postal inspector, the mailman and the United States Postmaster General to see was the name of one five-pound, miniature, tea-cup sized, white-with-a-hint-of-apricot toy poodle. It was addressed to none other than Mr. Big. The dog. The canine. The one with four legs and a tail.
     "Mr. Big! Mr. Big!" I yelled as I ran through the house waving the package in the air. 
      "Here boy, here big guy!  You've got mail! You have a package!! Come See!!"
      Everyone in the house was full of excitement as I ran into the den and told them Mr. Big had received a mysterious package from Virginia.  When I placed the package before him, Biggie started jumping up and down and running in circles round the den, clearly excited but without a clue as to why. He was hoping for another one of the almost-real beef-basted doggie bones that I had bought him at Wal-Mart on Saturday and seemed  unsure what to do with the padded envelope.  He sniffed it a few times, pushed it with his paw, wagged his little puff of a tail, tried to nibble on the corners, then stared up at me with a pleading look that seemed to say, "Please tell me what I'm supposed to do with this...it doesn't really taste very good."
      I retrieved the package from him like a good owner. My father's yellow lab, Rebel, eagerly ran over to help, but dropped his tail between his legs and pouted in the corner when I told him the package was just for Mr. Big and  no, he couldn't  rip it open.
      "Come on, Biggie, I'll help you," I said, tearing  open the seal and dropping bits of paper on the floor for him to sniff. A pretty little card decorated with butterflies, bunnies, a racoon and a mouse fell into my lap. It was from the mother of one of Mr. Big's former classmates at Northstar Academy, the school he had attended in Richmond with Sissey.
    I picked up the note and read it to him:
             "Mr. Big,
              "How are things in the great state of South Carolina?
               Crocuses and daffodils are up in Virginia!
               I am most concerned about your safety AND masculinity!!
               I'm afraid Mary Lapsley is going to take you on the bike with Rooster.
               Enclosed please find a Biker's Jacket for such an occassion."
               Love, Kathy"

    Inside the package was a "Boots and Barkley" black leather biker jacket with silver spikes studding the neckline-- Stunning!  The perfect accessory for any poodle to wear on a day of biking! Mr. Big was ecstatic.  He may have been small, but he had a huge sense of fashion, and the manly biker gear had him salivating more than a bag of basted bones.  He slipped it on, ran around the room to model it for us all, than sat down to wait for Rooster to arrive.
      When Sissey was still a student in Richmond, Kathy would often would pop by school as she was picking up her son Jay and leave a bag for Mr. Big at the front desk, a note attached on the outside and a new outfit tucked inside. She had helped him become the best-dressed canine in town and he was quite proud of his haute-couture wardrobe, which he kept in a special little pink and black LL Bean tote bag with "Mr. Big" monogrammed across the front in pink. His favorite outfit arrived the day Kathy sent him a policeman's uniform, complete with badge, handcuffs and a billy club attached to the belt. There's nothing quite as handsome as a poodle in uniform.
      So now he could add to his haute-couture wardrobe an oh-so-snappy leather biker's jacket from the House of Kathy, Clothier to the Canines, an outfit that not only defined his masculinity but  ensured he practiced safe biking.
     I couldn't wait to tell Rooster that Mr. Big was ready to ride, baby, ride with him on his next Harley excursion.  I was certain he would not be the least bit intimidated to roar through town on his Harley with a fluffly little poodle perched on the seat in front of him, both nattily attired in black leather, studs shining in the sun, hair and fur blowing in the breeze.  It takes a real man to burn rubber with a poodle.
     If only I could find a little pair of goggles to match.....

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