Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Mastiffs

I was at a dinner party Friday night and one of the invited couples showed up with their dogs. It was sort of like the arrival of Henry VIII. In through the front door marched a bearded man with two huge English mastiffs leading the way. The breed was engineered for two purposes; African lion hunting and as "knock-down" guard dogs on rural highland estates. Mastiffs are undoubtably a "man's man's dog"; a beast best portrayed in chiseled marble along with a scantily clad warrior over-dubbed with rippling muscle and armed with lance or long sword. Their heads are massive and make for gruesome gargoyles on Gothic cathedrals. 

David, the appropriately named master, was a bit on the short side but lean and toned and an avid hunter proud of the harnessed power with which he had arrived. Moments after his entrance, the dogs were unleashed and they went to work casing the joint like a couple FBI agents.  Everything was sniffed, (including our groins) and then one of the dogs leaped into the in-ground pool and did a lap, all within minutes of arrival. The hostess was fairly accepting of the intrusion. I think the chardonnay she was sipping helped calm her, for she kept an impeccably ordered home and mastiffs are not only imposing in stature but resemble Saint Bernards in respect to their oral hygiene;  great strings of saliva commonly gush forth and dangle like rubberized stalactites from their gummy jaws. These secretions eventually break free and and form glistening ponds on the high gloss surface of polished oak flooring.

Fortunately the meal was served outside in an open air room. There, the 130 lbs twins maintained a relaxed yet protective vigil within striking distance of their owner. Perhaps it was the fragrance of the barbecued beef, but the tile floor soon became so slick with the animals oral flow that the lady of the house had to resort to mopping up the mess with beach towels. David seemed oblivious to her toil, the way an obese man disregards the discomfort inflicted upon a crowded room as he lists to one side and breaks wind. Instead, in a very congenial, light-hearted manner, David described how dogs of this breed can kill a man effortlessly and why they must be prevented from ever developing a taste for blood less they become unmanageable. He recounted with sadness the misadventure of a dog he had kept fenced in his back yard. 

One day the little neighbor boy (described as a taunting truant) lowered his family's Chihuahua over the chain link barrier so that the two pups could play. David's dog immediately snapped the other's neck and swallowed it whole which resulted in the enforcement of the unspoken code inflicted upon blood tasters. Death. 

Tears did not swell in David's eyes as he recounted putting his beloved dog down, but I did note a tense flexing of jaw muscles beneath the coarse bristles of his salt and pepper goatee as a simultaneous growl rumbled though the muscular torsos of his canine wards. I didn't think it wise to inquire as to the fate of the kid next door, but instead rose quietly from the table and with towel in hand, joined our the hostess on bended knee.  

All hail the Mastiffs!

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