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This Wasn't Pavlov's Dog

Issue Date: Monday, Feb. 09, 2004

I was in the fourth grade at Sope Creek Elementary in Marietta, Georgia. I don’t even know if I was 8 years old yet. I know that it was spring. I know that much to my chagrin, my best friend Laura P. was going to be moving to Ohio later on that year before the school year was over.

Laura’s dog (a collie named Sky) had eaten part of my garter snake Bandit. We were upset at the merciless killing and we didn’t know what to do, so we took our little victim over to Suzie M.’s house for an impromptu declaration of death and a small funeral.

Suzie M. was my first lesbian friend. Oh, don’t tell me not to be so quick to judge. She had a crew cut (she looked like a tiny Martina Navratilova), she had 300 hamsters, 2 Afghan Hounds and was the person to teach me the word ‘deformed’ when I was 7 years old. As in, “that Mack truck looks deformed” as we sat in the rear-facing seat in her mother’s station wagon on the way home from the lake.

Laura and I went over to Suzie’s house because she was so wise for her (our) age. We were certain she would know what to do. Suzie’s vocabulary at 7 years of age could rival that of a college freshman and her calm nature was just the one you wanted around you when a crisis hit, or if you wanted to conduct a science experiment. More on that later.

Laura and I were the exact opposite of Suzie. We would skip through the forest of Fox Hills neighborhood making up stories to go with the arrowheads we would find. We would climb over abandoned felled trees to search for green lizards and blue-tailed skinks. We would also make up different words to sing to Air Supply’s Every Woman In The World while we dug our way to China on the side of the cranky man’s property. We never thought about the heavy stuff like the mating habits of hamsters or how you could make electricity with a potato. But Suzie did.

She knew just what to do when we brought Bandit over for her to make sure he (or what was left of him) was truly dead. She pulled out one of her mother’s dishrags and wrapped Bandit carefully inside. After making sure that his lifeless body was not going to return from the great beyond she went and got a shoe box out of their overflowing garage.

Laura and I mutely followed Suzie. Laura feeling guilty about her dog dispatching a snake that I had rescued from the street, a snake with a calm enough demeanor that he would coil up in my hand while we were being driven to dance class. A snake that was so laid back that my mother would handle him with just the smallest shudder of revulsion. And me… I followed too, struck mute and completely enthralled by all of the useful looking crap in Suzie's family garage.

I never said I was a deep fourth grader.

Suzie led us to the creek down by Adam B.’s house and we began to dig a small, shallow grave. Each of us had a stick that we used to uselessly push the mud around. When Suzie seemed satisfied with the job we did she placed the shoebox inside the inconsiderable crypt and asked us to form a triangle and hold hands. She said a simple prayer for Bandit and then we walked away from his final resting place to forget exactly where it was the next day.

We never really spoke about that little service again, but during that spring we did all sorts of things that seemed pretty significant to us at the time.

I mentioned Suzie’s knowledge of sex. Yep, she knew about the mating habit of many of God’s creatures. She could also tell you the gestational period for almost any rodent or canine.

After one enlightening day at the Suzie’s house Laura and I decided to do an experiment on our own. We had an idea and with the knowledge we gleaned from Suzie, we just knew it would work.

We knew that a dog put his wiener into the girl dog’s backside and then he humped her. A few weeks later puppies would come out. She said that hamster sex wasn’t much different. “People do that too,” said Suzie. We were floored with that one. Trying not to imagine our parents looking like the male and female version of Suzie’s Afghan Hounds humping each other.

We figured that we could see a tiny puppy come out of the boy dog’s wiener if we could get that boy dog to hump and ‘pee’ the babies into a small butter dish we had pilfered from Laura’s mom.

We had the Junior Scientist’s MicroLab (complete with microscope) and we had the butter dish.

The neighbors on the corner of Laura’s street had a large black Lab that they let run free. If we were riding our bikes, roller skating or walking by the house the dog would run out, jump up and try to hump us, or anything that moved. Poor mail man.

We figured that we had the subject for our experiment.

We called that horny bastard into Laura’s garage one Saturday morning and started our experiment. It was tough to get that dog to hump an inanimate object such as a trunk with a blanket thrown over it, or a spare tire. But we kept at it and I think he got so frustrated with hearing two seven year old girls say, “hump this ya stupid dog” over and over in our little immature voices that he just thought ‘what the hell’ and started in on the trunk.

We both got down on eye level with the doggie wiener. We made sure our trajectory was correct and we taped the butter dish to the trunk at a strategic location.

The dog snorted, sneezed, farted then flopped off of the trunk and started to lick his crotch.

We thought we were geniuses! We had succeeded in the first part of our experiment. All we needed was microscopic proof. We prepared the glass slide and put the sample under the lens to stare in wonder at the tiny puppies.

We looked, we blinked, we rubbed our eyes, and we took turns. Neither one of us saw one damn puppy under the microscope.

I learned my lesson that day. I needed more information. No matter what I thought was cool or a neat idea. I needed the 4-1-1. I needed Info. I should of asked Suzie more questions, but I had to go home.

When I got home I promptly and asked my parents at the dinner table, “So, what is this sexual intercourse thing I keep hearing about.”

They told me… but not before my sister could run screaming from the kitchen.


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And because of said comments he sent me my very own dream turtle in an email titled wee gift with these words attached, “my purple monkey is booked solid so i ordered you a tangerine turtle. hope he proves helpful.”

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