My initial impulse was to take the next flight to Nepal. But Jerry Caires, who is a director and editor for the program, told me it was too late. They had already interviewed some reputable citizens and had discovered that the cur was doggy non grata everywhere from Barb's Video to the City's Animal Control Center and wanted to film the beast.
I didn't feel the world was ready for that, but agreed to a question and answer press conference just to salvage some of our family's dignity and honor. What follows are excerpts from the interrogation.
"Where did you get Howard?"
"I was at my buddy's cabin just south of the Brooks Range when we heard a thumping at the door. We figured Wild Willie had finally got himself what he calls "unlost," but instead discovered a strange, puppy-sized, critter standing on the threshold. It resembled a cross between the head of a huge industrial push broom and a coughed up hairball from a wildcat the size of a battle tank. At first, we couldn't tell one end from the other, until it inhaled a dangled pepperoni stick. After a week of searching for something that might be its mom, I decided to bring it home. The rest is history, or infamy, if you wish."
"Obviously Howard's lineage is questionable. Do you have any clues?"
"Maybe. A scientist friend of mine did some tests and claims that he's probably the results of a threesome between a buffalo, musk ox, and a deranged female yak."
"Is it true that Howard was a bit of a juvenile delinquent during his teens?"
"Yeah, he's spent a few nights in dog jail. In fact, he has the largest canine rap sheet in Alaska and has been in more trouble than any one gang in L.A. He also stands accused of being responsible for the disappearance of certain neighborhood cats and is currently under house arrest for the burial of a Volkswagen Bug that was, unfortunately, occupied at the time. Hell, I'm still paying off the lawsuit where he inadvertently swallowed a poodle while stealing its food."
"Buried a Volkswagen? How big is he?"
"Well, we now have to bathe him at the car wash and trim his nails with tree shears. The only way to give him a proper hair clip is with a professional weed whacker. Succinctly put? Then let's just say the boy's so large that he's starting to develop his own ecosystem."
"Can Howard do tricks?"
"No, he's not a bucket of bright. I would estimate his IQ to be about two points less than the used road grader tires that he uses as chew toys. As far as I can tell, he has one active brain cell and its only function is to tell him when to breathe.
If he ever suffers a skull fracture, his head will implode."
"Several of our Homer sources described Howard as 'quintessentially repulsive.' Why is that?"
"Because, as far as personal hygiene goes, he has the breath of a rhino with advanced gum disease and a belch that has been known to flatten small trees. He also has a propensity for personal gas events that the EPA claims are contributing to global warming, and his preferred cologne of the day is Eau De Seriously Dead Seal. He is the only dog I know of that attracts seagulls when he hits the beach. Does that answer your question?"
"Yes, thanks, you shared more than we really needed to know."
"Oh yeah? How about the fact that he eats out of a wheelbarrow and that we have to have his food trucked via belly dumps? How about the calls I get from the mayor and city council personages asking me to keep what they call "The Hairy Hippo" sequestered in our basement during tourist season? I have enough problems without you showing up. I would appreciate the names of the miscreants who gave you directions here. Howard and I would like to personally thank them."
"No sir, we can't do that. Ah, may we meet Howard now? Millions of our viewers want to see this legendary pooch."
"Huh? Oh sure, no problem. He's waiting for you in the basement."
Jeez gang, I hate to leave you hanging, but, unfortunately, I've used up my word count for this column. Let's just say that the Alaska Magazine TV team quickly departed our cosmic community with an ample story line and blank stares. PBS TV will never be the same.
Nick Varney wanders into this space every three weeks or so, dog or no dog.