The Schnauzer with Nine Lives

For as long as I can remember, my dad has owned a schnauzer.  On the list of important things in life, dad would likely rank schnauzers just below my mom and just above his beloved Cleveland Browns.  Most evenings of my childhood, I could find dad sitting on the family room couch in his boxer shorts and white sleeveless t-shirt, with Air Force paperwork under his left arm, and the family schnauzer under the other.  On one occasion my good friend Jeff Battreall walked through the family room, caught a glimpse of my dad, and whispered, “Steve, your dad may want to throw a towel or something over those boxers.”  I explained that he was in his cave and the Air Force paperwork, boxer shorts, and Eddie (the schnauzer) were all cave fixtures.  Jeff understood, and made it a point to avoid glancing in the family room when dad was there.


When my grandmother passed away a couple decades ago, my parents inherited her condo in Port Charlotte, FL (where I sit this evening with Lil Jan).  It’s an interesting little 16-condo community made up of 50% Canadian snowbirds who migrate here every winter.  The full-timers keep a close eye on things and strictly enforce the comprehensive HOA code…pool hours, acceptable mulch color, garden gnome height, etc.

Not long after my folks started visiting the condo on a regular basis, the HOA passed a new code forbidding dogs.  The new ordinance may or may not have been a result of my dad’s life-long tendency to let his schnauzers roam freely in order to poop at the time and place of their choosing.  Fortunately for my dad (and his schnauzer, Sissy) the code allowed existing dogs to remain, but forbade the acquiring of new dogs once the existing dogs had passed away.  The HOA reasoned that time was on their side, and Sissy the nuisance would eventually be gone.

This loophole turned out to be just what my schnauzer-loving dad needed.  You see Sissy passed away a few years later.  My dad was heart-broken, but did what he had always done before…acquired a new schnauzer and named her Scarlett.  Scarlett bore a striking resemblance to Sissy, particularly while wearing Sissy’s collar during her time at the condo.  A decade later Scarlett died, and dad replaced her with “Goonba”, his current schnauzer companion.  Once again, Goonba inherited Sissy’s collar, at least during her time at the condo.  While my dad may be violating both the letter and spirit of the law, I admire his boldness and creativity.

I suspect the HOA leadership will eventually do the math and begin to question how “Sissy” has survived more than two decades.  Until then, she’ll continue to live on borrowed time in the body of Goonba…roaming freely and relieving herself on gnomes during the day…and falling asleep under the right arm of her boxer-wearing owner at night.  – Big Steve

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