When I was 4 my family moved to "the country." My dad got a good deal on some land and a house that was still standing. My dad did a lot of work to make it better later on but at the time, that's really all that could be said for the house. There were also 7 outbuildings on the property. The milkhouse. The Rory house. The cathouse The front barn. The back barn. The chicken coop and the fort. Not a single building was safe to be in but it never deterred us.
Early on we found a dog under the Rory house and promptly built him a home that matched the other buildings on the property in safety and inhabitability, chained him up and called him Petey. He was a beagle or a lab or something like that. I don't know much about dogs but I know this. He was weak and he could barely pull a sled. A little while later a bigger white stray dog started hanging around mostly feeling sorry for Pete. I think he would just hang around Pete and they would shoot the shit for awhile and then he would take off. A lot of times he would eat Pete's food and drink his water and then be like well thanks for the grub Pete, sorry you're chained to that shitty house but I gotta get going. Then he'd tear off like his ass was on fire and Pete would run with him for 23' 6" and then get his head yanked off by the ol' choker chain.
One day we caught this stray dog, built him a shitty house, chained him up next to Pete and promptly named him Chumpo. I don't know why. He was kind of an asshole to Pete was probably the biggest reason but now he was just a chump chained to a shitty house like Pete and stuck with a couple little a-hole kids who would eventually try to use him as a sled dog. Come to think of itm Chumpo's house was a 55 gallon drum with the top cut off and laid on its side. I'm sure that was pretty comfortable in the winter of '77.
Anyway this story is about how Chumpo ate a fishing hook.
One cold winter day in '79, when I was 7 and my brother was 10, we decided to see if Chumpo could pull us on a sled. We had a pretty decent Yankee Clipper Flexible Flyer with metal rails that steered with a wooden handle than just kinda bent the rails a little. We decided that if we ran clothesline through the handle and then around Chumpo's waist and then hooked it into his choker chain that he could probably manage us. At the time we were pretty malnourished and weighed maybe a buck o five combined. Well iteration 1 as I will refer to it was a moderate success but the cord was really constricting around Chumpo's waist and he would yelp a lot and it was annoying. So we did away with the waist loop and went straigt for the choke chain. It's called a choke chain because it's designed like a metal slipknot for maximum comfort for the dog wearing it. The harder you pull against it the more it chokes the life out of you.
Well at the time I thought Chumpo was just a real hard charger (turns out later I found out he was just fucking crazy and liked to eat cats and even tried to eat me) but for some reason he really enjoyed trying to pull us with that choker chain. He'd go like a bat out of hell for about ten feet then start wheezing like an asthmatic when the chain got tight. Since I was the smart one of the 2 brothers and an inventor of sorts even at age 7, I decided we needed better equipment.
That's when I designed the Chumpiditarod Izod Harness vest. It was a highly technical comfortable pulling harness custom fit to Chumpo. Or it might have been a Captain america underoos t-shirt that we tied clothesline to the sleeve holes and then put on Ol' Chumpo like he was a superhero. Either way he was dashingly good looking as he dashed through the snow. Now I know you're still wondering about the fishing hook
Well Chumpo lacked in perseverance what he made up for in sheer tear ass gumption for the first 10 feet of our rides so I decided we needed some motivation for the ol' pooch so it occurred to me that fishing poles and lunchmeat were readily available. Well it was about this time that my brother convinced me of my brilliance and we quickly assembled the dangling motivation.
Well what I didn't account for was that with proper motivation, Chumpo could actually increase his distance from us on the sled even though we were physically connected to him with the IzodIditarod. So I was dumbfounded when he actually "caught up to" my "chip chop ham on a hook" motivator.
My brother and I after several anxious minutes of soiling ourselves wondering what the hell to do finally decided to just cut the fishing line. Then we vacillated over whether to tell my dad the truth or not about what happened to the hook. I came up with the idea that we were fishing for birds in the giant weeping willow and that the hook got caught in the tree. So we went with it.
When the ol' man got home, he always knew when we had done something assinine and today was no exception. He got out of the old 71 Chevy pickup and strolled over to us. "what's my fishing pole doing out?" he asked. I chimed in with our brillaint allibi. "We were trying to catch birds with it." "Unfortunately though it got hooked up in the willow tree and we lost your hook." Then, as he would every single time we ever tried to pull one over on him, he called us on it. "Whereabouts, I have that old extension ladder, we can probably get it out of there." Fuck me. Why couldn't he ever just say "oh that's a bummer". No way not my old man. "Whereabouts, I have a ladder" It's 50 goddamned degrees below zero, and he wants to go "In Search Of" an 11 cent fishing hook a la Leonard Nimoy. I think we somehow convinced him that it was nowhere to be found but that may have been the first and last time I ever got away with one.
As for Chumpo, he went crazy one day after Petey froze to death, and then he ate Laverne. I just don't think he could deal with Pete's death especially since he was legs up with rigor mortis right there next to him still chained up. Laverne was a crappy cat we got from some friends that dropped cats off at our house all the time. She arrived one day with Shirley. Anyway Chumpo lost his mind, ate Laverne, bit me on the hand, and then my mom shot him.
He was a good dog. Those were good times. Ahh to be young again.
I think this is at least a partial answer to the question Scott asks me at least 5 times a day.
"What the hell is wrong with you?"