Mulhall column: William F. Stewie isn’t a political pup
February 8, 2018
A few years ago, my wife hiked Sunlight Peak with her posse. On the way home, they spotted a small dog loping along the double yellow stripe straight down the middle of Four Mile Road.
She ended up bringing the pooch home, but not right away.
First, she took him to Colorado Animal Rescue, which immediately recognized him as an animal control regular. Turned out he was chipped, but with his reputation as a "flight risk" and "repeat offender," there was a considerable bounty on his brindle hide — one his owners declined to pay. My wife talked me into taking him home.
After some chin rubbing, our daughters suggested we call him Stewie.
We really didn't know how Stewie'd fit in, for we had three cats and a dog named Ruby, a neurotic schnauzer-poodle designer mix some folks call a "schnoodle." I think of her as a "poozer," however, because the moniker underscores what she does best. They became inseparable.
As it turned out, Stewie is something of a designer breed himself: A cross between a dachshund and a pug. According to the name jamming technique employed by designing breeders, Stewie's a "pugshund." This particular cross hasn't really caught on though, perhaps due to an absence of any unique benefit or attractive quality in this rare genetic collision.
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For one, Stewie's got what Cousin Eddie called, "a little bit of Mississippi leg hound in him." This is fine inasmuch as he's only packing a coin purse, but it underscores the importance of pet spaying and neutering. Usually, strange dogs, the larger the better, trigger Stewie's amour. But you never know. He's also quite fond of elderly women.
If you can get past the humping, Stewie's pretty much an ordinary dog, depending on who you talk to, of course. I took him over to my folks one Saturday a few years back and went downstairs to talk to my dad, who was just finishing up ironing dress shirts for the coming work week. The air was heavy with starch.
Dad welcomed the interruption and gladly left a Bengal stripe oxford mid-press on the ironing board, one freshly creased sleeve dangling almost to the floor. After a few minutes of catching up, Stewie rumbled down and started sniffing around the way dogs do, but he became canis non gratis when he lifted his leg on the sleeve.
Sometimes it's best to suppress laughter.
A while back, Bryan Lewis wrote a country western tune titled, "I Think My Dog Might Be a Democrat." The lyrics are amusing: "[The dog] pooped on my living room rug and tried to tell me George Bush did it," "… every time Benghazi's on TV he looks the other way," and "[The dog] acts like he's entitled and even tried to unionize the cat."
Any applicability the song has to Stewie unravels on the "cat" reference.
I mentioned we have three cats, females all, but the one that gives him the greatest pause is Mae, an aging, orange tabby CARE transplant who, for reasons known only to herself, keeps to our bedroom. In the twilight of the day, just before lights out, Stewie will agitate for a boost onto the bed (because gravity is a pugshund's challenge), and we usually oblige him for a bit.
In time Mae jumps up too (because gravity is a cat's friend), but Stewie won't even look at her, perhaps because one night a few months back she went all Feline Lives Matter on his nose. Since then, his ignore is so tortured that it routinely forms drama more riveting than anything on TV.
I thought the better of offering him a "Coexist" bumper sticker.
In truth, Stewie's not much of a political animal, much less a partisan one.
How do I know?
Well, without really expecting a response, I've floated a few politically inspired questions his way.
With an equanimity that's hard to find anywhere else, Stewie always offers a kind of William F. Buckley head tilt to even the most politically charged questions I come up with, regardless of ideological origin.
"Was Michael Moore right that '[S]tupid white men are always the problem?'"
"Do ya' think Ann Coulter's right that female Democratic National Convention attendees are 'hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons?'"
No matter the question, Stewie looks at me, flares his nostrils, and cocks his head along an axis that stems from the small of his neck and runs through the tip of his salt and pepper snout.
However, one recent question broke the mold.
Since Randy Essex' departure, I've been reading the Detroit Free Press. They recently covered a story about a Saugatuck, Michigan, hound named Ryder who, according to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, is due $360 a month.
"Wanna take your show on the road to Detroit like Randy?" I asked him. "Maybe you could draw some of that Michigan unemployment."
Fully expecting Stewie's signature head tilt, I was surprised instead by eager panting and diffident tail tapping.
Maybe I've been around him too long, but I think he was asking, "Are there any cats?"
Mitch Mulhall is a husband, father and longtime valley resident. His column appears on the second Friday of each month.