Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Dog's Life - Part Three

Dingo stoically endured the half hour rides up and down Geiger Grade between the theater and the Roberts house in Reno. He would sit between the front seats of the van - front legs straight, knees locked, lightly panting and staring down at the floor. One time upon arrival, he jumped out of the side door and collapsed with a pathetic whine - his legs had fallen asleep.

The Roberts decided to make it legal, and they purchased a manly collar with an ID tag that said Dingo on the front and their phone number on the back. The very next night they were awakened by a phone call - "Do you have a dog named Dingo?"

The back gate had blown open and Dingo was wandering, as was his nature. He was hit by a car about three blocks from the house. Mike and Gena got him into the van and drove to an Emergency Animal Clinic. He had a dislocated hip. The doctors were able to pop it back in without surgery, but they had to put him in a sling which they expected he would need for several weeks - no running or jumping, and definitely no wandering.

Much to the cat's dismay, Dingo became an indoor dog.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Dog's Life - Part Two

Meanwhile, some friends of the Alvarezes (we'll call them Mike and Gena Roberts) had started an outdoor theater up in Virginia City (Papa's ol' stompin' grounds). Papa, Jr. was invited to participate in the first production of the season, and once rehearsals started in the dusty rustic amphitheater, a plan hatched in Junior's brain.

"Hmmm, " thought Junior, "I could leave Dingo here. And if he runs off, he would find himself in the hills he knows and loves. He would forget Papa."

And so, Dingo came to rehearsal.

The cast thought Dingo was adorable. He wandered around the set (which was a big house that opened up for "indoor" scenes), hid out in the "house" (the audience seating which was a huge slope dotted with straw bales), and took off into the hills beyond for hours at a time. Mike was concerned about Junior's plan to leave Dingo there overnight. He didn't want the responsibility of having an "unleashed" pet. But then again, if Dingo stayed at the amphitheater he might keep any would-be squatters from taking up residence in the set.

And so Mike took Junior's plan, and made a few changes. "This dog is a stray," he explained. "He wandered onto the property and we just sort of adopted him. But he isn't ours. He comes and goes as he pleases." Once spoken, the story was set. In fact, you'll never hear it differently (except for this unauthorized version you're reading right now).

By the time the second production got under way, Dingo was a fixture. He always wore a bright red or blue bandanna (so he could be seen out in the hills, but he thought it was his costume). He would greet the audience before the show, begging for handouts from their picnic baskets and concessions. Eventually, the concession stand started selling official "Dingo snacks" for people to give him. Dingo would always accept these gifts, and if he was not hungry, would take and hide them up behind "his" straw bale, saving them for later.

During one of the melodramas, when the heroine was despairing, Dingo ran in and laid his head in her lap. Scene stealer! And later when the hero was tied to the railroad tracks, Dingo ran in to start untying him! Classic!

It was soon discovered that Dingo did not like guns. He would always run out the amphitheater before the shooting started. He also became a bit of a diva, and would not go onstage at all the night his bandanna got left up in the dressing room.

He squirmed his way right into everyone's heart. And after the third trip to the sheriff's department to bail Dingo out of doggie jail (he was picked up for causing a disturbance - a neighbor claimed he barked all night, although no one had ever heard him bark, and the deputy couldn't get him to bark even with the other jailbirds barking up a frenzy), the Roberts started taking him home with them after the shows.

Dingo, the wonder dog had a new home.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Dog's Life - Part One

Once upon a time, oh about 15-20 years ago, on an old Nevada ranch outside of Reno, a purebred German Shepherd went into heat. She was locked in a high fenced kennel while arrangements were completed for an appropriate "suitor". However, in the morning it was discovered that she was not alone - 3 coyotes had made it into her pen to keep her company. The coyotes were run off, but the damage was done. Fraulein Shepherd was with child(ren). Is it even possible, you ask? Well, I dunno, but it's my story, isn't it?

Obviously, Fraulein had been sullied, and her progeny (is that a word?) was worthless. I don't know how many were in the litter, but one puppy was taken in by the Alvarez clan. They named him Dingo (I have no idea why - he didn't look like a dingo, he looked like a coyote). He would be a gift for Papa.

Dingo was greatly loved by Papa Alvarez, and Papa Alvarez was adored by little Dingo. Together they lived and wandered the Nevada desert (Papa was something of a hermit, though he did check in with the rest of the family now and then). Dingo was never collared or leashed, and loved to chase rabbits and other critters up and down the Nevada hills. Many times he had to fend for himself foodwise, as Papa sometimes couldn't feed himself, much less a dog. But Dingo loved to "hunt". He was fond of roadkill and horse poop was an extra special treat.

There was an incident once when Papa and Dingo were riding in Papa's pickup truck. A bit of an accident (the truck flipped over) caused a toolbox that was also riding in the truck to land on the little pup. Dingo was ever after skittish about riding in vehicles.

Years passed and finally Papa's family made him come home. They wanted to keep an eye on him; make sure he ate, bathed and wore clean clothes (at least once in a while). And so began a new phase of Dingo's life - confinement. This was a difficult time for Dingo. Although the Alvarezes had a large back yard, he was required to stay inside the fence. Oh how he longed to run with the pack - he could hear the coyotes calling as they roamed the nearby desert. Sometimes he could talk the family dog into breaking out with him, but mostly he had to go solo. He never meant any harm - he would always come back.

But the Alvarez clan, though they did have a fondness for Dingo, came to realize that they just could not train him to stay. He was after all part coyote and needed to roam free (plus he was a bad influence on their border collie and the neighbors complained about his howling). And so the family took a trip to the other side of Pyramid Lake and left Dingo there. Don't judge - it wasn't abandonment - they were trying to help him find his way back to the wild.

The bond between Dingo and Papa was strong. And two days later Dingo was home, thrilled and tired from his adventure. The Alvarezes did not know what to do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Life is Not a Caberet

So, Mom said she's tired of checking my blog and seeing "Twins!" still at the top. So, here's a new blog for you.

I've been working this week for the gift shop for TUTS. They are producing "Cabaret". I have to admit it's a fascinating show - very dark, very disturbing, plus a tad bit of nudity and "simulated sex acts". So I'm somewhat surprised that I like it. I've been thinking about this a lot. There are a lot of shows out there that I find very distasteful. (I started to list them, but changed my mind; the specific shows are not important.)

What I'm trying to figure out is why I don't put this one in the same category. I've always told myself that I just don't need to see this kind of stuff on stage - sex, drugs, profanity. I want to go to the theater to be entertained - to escape reality. I don't want reality thrown in my face. And here comes "Cabaret" which is basically about a group of people who hid from reality but reality didn't go away. Hmmmm.

When it comes down to it, "Cabaret" is a morality play. It portrays a debauched society that is trying to pretend they are happy. And they aren't. None of them. I was trying to tell a younger audience person what the show was going to be about. As I described Sally Bowles and her sad life, the girl said, "But she wants to have a better life, right?" And I had to say, "No. The life she has is the one she wanted, and she won't admit she's miserable." It ain't a happy ending.

All of this PLUS the rise of the Nazi party make for just a fascinating story. "Cabaret" suggests that the German people let the Nazi party take power because of apathy and denial. They drowned their sorrows and misgivings in the lusts of their flesh. And they didn't sober up in time to stop it.

Do I have to point out the similarity to current America? Do you think that's too harsh?