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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Spanky, the Black Narcissus 

One day my mom found a note in my aunt's car that read:

Whacker Farm
Intercourse, Pennsylvania
Bring $500 cash


Before she became filled with grave misgiving about what my aunt might be up to, she made the connection between the note and my aunt's errand to Pennsylvania Dutch country to purchase a Schipperke dog a few weeks before. When my aunt took the tiny puppy, then about the size of a goose's egg, for its first vet visit he asked her where it had come from. When she told him that she purchased it from a nice Amish farm he screamed, "How could you! The Amish run horrible puppy mills! They are notorious! The most defective animals I've ever treated come from the Amish. I wish you luck with this animal – you’re going to need it!" Although you would think that the Amish would practice sound animal husbandry and would be above impure motivations like money they apparently are not.

Spanky is a testament to the amazing power of human love, and by that I mean that it's amazing how human beings have the capacity to love and mother anything, no matter how dangerous or monstrous that creature may be. Spanky was the runt of her litter and even now is only 7 pounds, which has probably been the only reason my aunt has not been forced by the authorities to destroy her. Spanky has a horrible fear of children (we suspect she was tortured by the Amish children who were charged with raising her) which she expresses by trying to kill them. Any time a child visits Spanky has to be locked securely away behind several doors. Schipperkes are difficult dogs anyway - I understand the breed rescue organization is quite active – and Spanky is no exception. Although she is intelligent and cunning, there is a strange absence of emotional connection, like she has a canine form of Asperger’s. It’s like having a dangerously undomesticated animal around. I liken her to a cross between a javelina and a scorpion.

Spanky is an inky black imp that zips and flits about my aunt’s floor and furniture. E said she reminds her of one of the creatures unleashed when Pandora opened the box. She shrieks and twists like a mandrake root if anyone besides my aunt tries to pick her up or breaches her personal space, which is arbitrary and constantly shifting. She also has several territorial spheres/No Man's Lands surrounding her food bowl, tennis ball and the BBQ grill. If anyone intrudes, even innocently, she will charge and bite them like a black mamba. Every one of us, with the exception of my aunt, has been bitten at least once, including my cousin through the lip when she bent down to kiss her goodnight.

Several pet names for her:
Spooky, Sketchy, Shrieky, Squealy, The Black Narcissus, Satan's Merkin

One day I was sitting on the couch and looked down and noticed Spanky had raised her tiny hind leg, the size and weight of a green bean, and rested it upon my foot. I first thought she was raising her leg to urinate on me like a male because she is so aggressively masculine, but my aunt explained that Spanky was dominating me. This was her way of displaying that she was the boss of me. After she made me her bitch, she actually allowed me to hold her in my lap. Her heartbeat was impossibly fast, like a shrew or hummingbird's.

Although Spanky is terrifying, she’s also exciting to be around because she is so fascinatingly, dangerously unpredictable. She genuinely does love my aunt and adds an element of thrilling excitement to my visits to her house, like a trip to a Fun House where things pop out at you. When we visit she hates the disruption in routine, though, and a few Thanksgivings ago expressed her displeasure symbolically by diarrheaing all over the welcome mat.

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