Kirby the Shih Tzu Meets Irma: It’s Not Pretty
By David Hartley Mark
Scene: A living room. It is normally comfy and well-laid-out, but this time resembles an explosion in a camping store. Battery-powered lanterns, flashlights, and electric fans lie scattered about, on the coffee table (which properly is called “Kirby’s Klubhouse”), or on the lawn table which was brought in from the yard for safety, standing next to the large gas grill. Two enormous picnic cooler chests stand near the previously non-functional refrigerator, and paper plates cram the trash. In the midst of it all, Kirby the Shih Tzu sleeps, or tries to, in his furry beddy. He snores loudly, as do all dogs with tiny noses and an enormous need to rest.
Dave, his ostensible owner but always friend, enters the room.
Dave: Kirby? You up?
Kirby: Why are you bothering me? I just have to lie here for a bit, and get my nerves back together. This is a crazy house.
Dave: Well, you understand, we’re all kind of under the gun, here.
Kirby: Dave, when you adopted me from “Have U a Shih Tzu?” Rescue Home, you promised the people there that you would shelter and tend to my every need. Now, we’ve had this ridiculous windstorm, which has done nothing for my state of mind. You know how delicate I am—
Dave: Tell me about it.
Kirby: --and now, I’m a nervous wreck. It isn’t fair. Maybe I should go back to the Home.
Dave: Not a good idea, Kirby; I understand that they were slammed, too. This hurricane really knocked Florida and the Southeast all to—you know.
Kirby: The Home, too? My Dog! All my friends—Webster, Sheridan, and Courtney? Poor Old Courtney—she was pretty much of a basket case to begin with—always jumping up on people.
Dave: That’s why we didn’t adopt her.
Kirby: Adopt Courtney? You said I was your Forever Friend. Courtney was a nut job. I, on the other hand, am elegant, soft-barking, and always at your beck and call.
Dave: Please. All you do is chase Mommy around.
Kirby: Is she here now?
Dave: No; she went out grocery shopping.
Kirby: Howsabout you sneak me some people food?
Dave: Um—you’re getting a little chunky.
Kirby: Hey, so are you.
Dave: Never mind. Let’s talk hurricane. What do you remember?
Kirby: Well, long before you humans had even an inkling of Irma, I could sense her coming. We dogs get a whole static electricity thing going, in our fur.
Dave: That’s why you were so jumpy the whole time.
K: Yes: but there was more. How long do you think I can hold in my—you know?
D: I thought dogs could turn off their bladders.
K: Well, yes; but we have limits.
D: Hey, I took you out, plenty of times, there during the tornadoes.
K: Yes, but when you weigh only 16 lbs., Bad Things can happen. Just as I was assuming the position, a huge wind gust from the tornado came along, and nearly lifted me off the ground.
D: I remember: both Mommy and I made a grab for you.
K: Well, that was it for me. My mother didn’t birth me to be Orville or Wilbur. I could have sailed off, over the trees. By-By, Kir-bye.
D: You did look surprised. Anyway, between that and losing power, we figured, once the storm was over, that we needed to get out to a motel for a couple of days. 92-degree heat will do that to a person.
K: Dogs, too.
D: Didn’t you like the motel?
K: Well, yes. But there were so many dogs. Big ones.
D: Weren’t there a couple of smaller dogs, too? You met them.
K: There was a little silky terrier named Cosmo, and I thought we could be friends—he was smaller than I am. But he started barking like a maniac, and lunged for me. I thought he was going to chomp my face off.
D: Yes, he was a sweet little guy.
K: Are we talking about the same dog? Next, I met a couple of yellow labs, who wanted to be my best friends. When they sniffed me front-and-back, I felt a weird sensation running through my entire body.
D: Well, having hot breath on both your face and tush will do that.
K: Then, I’m walking in the hall with Mommy and you; everything is fine. You know how I love a nice carpeted hall for running up and down. Suddenly, there’s this sheep dog—he must have weighed 800 pounds—named Carl. He comes galloping up and almost blows me over. “Tastes like chicken,” I hear him say. Thank Dog that Mommy snatched me up and asked the owner guy to grab Carl’s leash. I could have been lunch.
D: Anyway, finally we made it to the room.
K: Yeah, sure. But on the way up in the little moving room—I remember thinking, “Is this where we’re going to sleep? There’s no room for beds!”—the door opens up, and a couple get on with three gigantic bulldogs. Their mommy is yelling, “They’re gentle! They’re gentle!” Meanwhile, Larry, Moe and Curly slobber all over me.
D: Lots of dogs, Kirb, lots of dogs.
K: So you figured that it might be nice to go to the Sawgrass Mall. That is one big mall.
D: I carried you the whole way, too.
K: Except when Mommy stuck me into a shopping cart, here and there. You guys also thought it would be a good idea to try sticking me in a Tommy Hilfiger bag.
D: Um, that didn’t work out. Carrying you was best.
K: Yeah, well, except that you got me all sweaty.
D: Well, excuse me, Sara Lee.
K: Hey, when you’re little, you have to be careful. In the food court, while you were eating your pizza, these two little girls came over.
D: They thought you were cute.
K: Of course, I’m cute. Cute is my job. But this one little girl—
D: She was only four. Cut her some slack.
K: Slack? How would you like a rug rat yelling in your face, “Nice Doggie! Nice Doggie!” Why didn’t you stop her?
D: Well, her father was telling me about his dogs, how one died at fifteen and the other was poisoned, and his eyes welled up.
K: That’s too darn bad, but he totally ignored his daughter yelling, “Nice Doggie!” and patting me. I had to take matters into my own paws.
D: And you growled at her.
K: It wasn’t a big growl. And she ignored it, too. Thank Dog that Mommy distracted her away. Dog knows, the father wasn’t doing it. Who asked you to talk to him?
D: Well, the father was crying. “I really want a dog,” he says.
“Well, you have kids,” I say.
“Oh, yeah—right,” he says.
K: Idiot. He should have saved me. Then, we walked the mall. We walked and walked.
D: Hey, I was doing the walking and carrying.
K: At least, I had a little slurp of your ice cream, at the end.
D: That’s true.
K: Let’s not do hurricanes any more, OK?
D: I’ll see what I can do….