Tattoos in Mayberry

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During my time living on a Native reservation
,in the high country of North Western, Montana,
Not growing up in the Indian way, 
It's not surprising I didn't possess high status, in the tribe,
My tribal member wife, a singing, teacher and, storyteller 
enjoyed the high status I lacked. It made up for some
of my lack of status
through my union with her.
At any rate, on one of our outings,
we visited her friends, and their family, at their home
There were two Rottweiler puppies tied up in their front yard.
So,I said to my lady,
they have two young dogs and we have none.
Why don't we ask them for one,
So, that's what we did.
and they graciously offered our choice of 
the male or the female pup.. 
The couple being dog breeders specialized in Rottweilers. 
The two Rotts were bred from 
the union of a brother and sister
We chose the male..
in exchange, we gave them
a pretty decent VCR,.
We thanked them
They told us our dog's name was Tsu Puk.
which meant spoiled brat
in the Kootenai language.
I didn't have any way of verifying this.,
but, I believed them
because why would they lie.
Indians don't generally lie
about important stuff like that...
Tsu Puk was only eight to ten weeks old 
Before we adopted him into our home,.
The husband, who bred them,
pulled me aside
but not my wife, 
and said to me to make sure to spit in his nose,
Maybe since our puppy was a male
they wanted me to pass this information along to my gal pal. 
He informed me,spitting in their nose will, let the puppy know
who's the boss,who's  head dog,
So, when he grew up,, he wouldn't turn on you. 
It seemed a bit odd to spit in a dog's nose
but, why would they make something like that up?
So, I did as instructed and spit in his nose.
My wife did not.
And, you know what?  he never turned on me.
He grew and grew,
and soon we had a full grown adult animal
His head as big as a gorillas.
He could knock over a grown man at a gallop.
We never neutered him nor leashed him
His territory was about 5 square miles. 

He would voluntarily come home when it suited him.
He didn't take too much advantage of his free run.
     He used to hang out at some of the neighbors homes,
since we allowed him on the open
reservation spaces to come and go as he pleased
He would sometimes bark aggressively at folks
in the morning when they'd leave to go to work
  he'd growl menacingly near
their garage doors
terrorizing them until they 
gave him tribute, by feeding him
 enough of  something, to his satisfaction
only then he would let them pass.
I didn't know he was saavy enough
to run his own private extortion operation.
But, we got a call threatening us
'if we didn't come over to retrieve him, they'd shoot him.'
There are no shortage of firearms on a reservation.
So, after assuring me they weren't mistaken
 It wasn't some other dog'?
I ran over  there while, calling his name,
He appeared from the early morning shadows
wagging his tail all
innocent looking and happy to see me
for rescuing him
from these hysterical, misled, and unruly people.
I recalled that his name meant spoiled brat..
Still, it was impossible for me to get angry with him.
He generally wasn't overly friendly with other people,
dogs or cats, who took away any of  my time and attention
which belonged to  him.
Once, at the shore of Flathead Lake, I was throwing sticks 
into the water, playing fetch 
with this neighborhood white lab.
He never seemed to tire of
jumping in the water and bringing back  the stick
just so I would throw it out in the water again..
Tsu Puk began barking and pacing on the shore,
 finally bounding over
and sinking his jaws neck deep into this lab.
His jaws were shaking hard
jerking this dog's head into contorted positions.
We never saw that dog again..
Tsu Puks kryptonite was water.
Having lived off a large lake.
 I  made the mistake one day, 
of trying to teach him how to swim
by throwing him off the dock
into the water,
. He began swimming 
his dog paddle  back to shore.
But, he panicked,
and swam under the dock
just as the tide was rolling in.
He dug and he dug underneath the dock
almost drowning but somehow
he managing to dig so persistently, under the sand
 he was finally  able to get his nose
above the water line
and make his way up onto dry land.
He never went into the lake again.
        At some point, I had to give him up 
because he started to get testy,
and then aggressive with my wife,,
not having  spat in his nose as a pup.
I drove him into the big city, Missoula,  Montana,
where we spent a few final, memorable, 
days together, hanging out
making new friends,
and, panhandling for his food,
Although, I wasn't a panhandler, by trade
we  were surprisingly, successful at it.
When folks would see him, 
they'd pet him,
his strong tail wagging
his big, tongue hanging out.
I would tell them it was a hardship
for me to feed him.
since he was always so hungry, 
Actually, that wasn't much of an exxageration
They'd open their wallets
we'd make new dinner companions 
and best of all, we'd both get fed
Often we had  extra
cash left over 
to gas up the van.
One morning, we ran into a very kind
Indian man
who happened
to be in town
running some errands, 
We made some small talk
and it turned out he knew
my native wife, who was
somewhat of a local celebrity.
I told him about our
predicament and after
some discussion he looked
at our dog and said
I'll take Tsu Puk off your hands.
I was conflicted,
but another part of me knew 
I had to give him up

Since, my original mission, in town
was to find a new home for him.
Tsu Puk had become
too much dog for my woman to handle.
So,I followed him out to his house.
He had a small, ranch due west of town
it ran parallel to the main rail road tracks
heading east andwest of Missuola.
This rancher cared for  a whole slew of dogs.
When we first arrived,
The other dogs were growling and hissing at Tsu Puk
Leering at him in a very sinister way.
Showing their teeth, and appearing as if, at any moment,
they were all going to maul and kill him.
The man suggested I  come into his home, relax,
and have a soda.
I looked over at Tsu Puk
He was wagging his tail and sticking his tongue out
Not  disturbed at all..
So, I went into the man's house, and we shot the breeze for a while. 
When I came back out  less than an hour later,
to say goodbye to my dear dog, companion,
all the other dogs were catering to his every need.
Licking him, grooming him,
He was busy drinking their water and eating their food.
That was the kind of dog he was
a big brat, dominant, and carefree
If he'd flip his hell on wheels switch 
you didn't want to be on the receiving end of that crap storm.
Three weeks later 
there was a train derailment near this man's ranch.
releasing highly toxic,
chlorine gas.
All the folks
living near this train, accident
had to evacuate immediately
carrying only the clothes on their backs.
There was no time to take their animals
pets or any of their belongings,.
The  tracks where the spill occurred,
was mere blocks
from this man's ranch.
I was one of the few,
not too surprised
when several weeks later
as the local residents
were allowed to return,
Tsu Puk  had pulled through.,
He had figured out a way to survive.
I was told he looked cheerful,
healthy and well fed, 
with a glint in his eyes,,
his head held up high,
his tongue lolling
and his tail wagging. 


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Spit in his nose.