American Humor: A Guard Dog Named Juggler

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ILLUSTRATION: PETER KUPER
Ever'body knew the pooch in question, the biggest, meanest speciment of dog seen in these parts since Clarence Smithers' hound choked on a steer's head.

Last Laugh shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted American humor with other readers.

American Humor: A Guard Dog Named Juggler

Well, sir, leaf-peepin’ season, the time o’ year when
caravans of city folks drive ’round starin’ at fall-colored
trees, hez been hard upon Plumtree Crossin’ fer weeks now.
Still, the fellers of the Plumtree Crossin’ Genial Assembly
weren’t expectin’ the dog-an’tourist story Lafe Higgins
brought by the other day.

Ever’body knew the pooch in question, the biggest, meanest
speciment of dog seen in these parts since Clarence
Smithers’ hound choked on a steer’s head. It wuz a cross,
Newt Blanchard claimed, between a horse fer size an’ a
piana fer teeth, if someone hed filed the keys to a p’int,
an’ its eyes wuz as evil as cream o’ sin. Bark? Heck no,
the dog seemed to say, the chain makes enough noise when I
come fer ya. Seems as if Lafe’s uncle, who owns the
junkyard over to Erosion junction, hed to go into the city
last Sunday, an’ he left his collection o’ dead cars an’
school buses in the paws o’ this aforementioned
dog–name o’ Juggler, on accounta his fondness fer
thet partickalar hose inside the human neck.

Unc Higgins hez hed thet dog since it were a pup thet
weighed only a couple hunnert pounds. Seems as though he
weren’t perzackly a watchdog so much as a air-breathin’
shark. Now thet day, Lafe was workin’ in the shop next to
the Edsel cemetery, on a of ’53 Hudson he’s jist about
weaned offa oil, when this humongous motorin’ home come up
the road. It pulled up, wheezin’ like a gunny sack fulla
bagpipe parts, an’ stopped. This cityslicker opened the
window an’ whispered, “Hey, how far to the freeway, bub?”
Lafe slid out, an’ dusted off his back as he thought about
thet, an’ finally allowed thet it wuz only 80 mile as the
crow flies, but if the crow hed to drive ‘er, it would be
closer to a lot more. Thet fact let the air outa the
slicker, an’ he run his smooth hands over his curly hair,
tugged on the bill of his admiral’s cap an’ said a word you
jist don’t hear much around Plumtree on Sundays. Lafe was
fixin’ to go back under the Hudson when the slice o’ city
life inquired if he hed a dewhizulator on hand to fix his
busted offgrommatoon. Lafe, who can diagnose an’ identify
every vehicle ailment known to man, just gave a loud snort.

“Shhh! My wife’s in back sleeping,” the slicker hissed,
“and she doesn’t need to know I took a wrong turn. If you
can fix this thing, it’s worth 20 bucks extra to me.” Lafe
peered inside fer two seconds, an’ pernounced, “You need a
new rascalatin’ arm fer yore zipperwheel, an’ if you wanna
wait until the boss gits back, there’s one on thet there
bus.” He jerked a thumb at a big yeller wreck behind the
junkyard fence. The city dude jist shook his head.

“Listen, sport, make it 50 bucks if you can do it in half
an hour. My wife already thinks I can’t read a map, and I
want to be back on pavement before she wakes up. Why wait
for the boss?” And he peeled U.S. Grant off a roll thet
looked like it come from a Pentagon toilet stall, holdin’
it up like a kid’s first fish. But Lafe weren’t even
tempted. He pointed back to where ol’ Juggler wuz chawin’
up rib bones like they wuz pretzels, an’ said in a voice he
saved fer funerals, “Thet’s why, mister. Dead men don’t
need money much, an’ to tell the truth, I don’t feel real
safe in plain sight like this, bein’ as how thet dog ain’t
tasted no human flesh fer a while, an’ only a rusty anchor
chain aholdin’ him.” The dinosaur pilot smiled at Lafe an’
went to the back o’ the metal Conestogy. Pretty soon he
brung out a chunka hamburger the size of a cannon shot.
“OK, this should knock him out,” he laughed, tossin’ thet
beefy ball inside the danger zone o’ the dog’s tether. “I
put in a few of the wife’s tranquilizers.

“Juggler sorta inhaled it down so as not to get his
sparklin’ teeth dirty, an’ wiped his chops with a tongue
like a pink razor strop. Sure enough, in two minnits
juggler keels over and commences to snore, so Lafe said a
few prayers, gathered up his tools an’ streaked fer the
bus, the city feller right behind him. “We gotta work
fast,” Lafe panted, whippin’ of the bus hood an’ yankin’
out parts, ” ’cause we ain’t safe long as thet dog hez
breath in his body.” It took him only 110 seconds o’ rapid
wrench-twiddlin’ to free up the rascalatin’ arm, an’ one
more to race back outa the yard. Thet son o’ suburbia wuz
laughin’ at Lafe’s keenish love o’ life, as he moseyed
right past juggler’s food bowl, callin’, “You worry too
much, hayseed.

This dog can’t hurt–” an’ thet’s as far as he got”
‘Cause Juggler reared up, eyes closed but teeth bared, an’
chomped a mouthful o’ pant leg. He wuz somnambulatin’ so
hard thet the sudden screamin’ didn’t even wake
him–but his steel jaw wuz locked. The dude came outa
those pants like a banana outa its peel, an’ skivvied the
50 feet back to his roadhoggin’ house, slammed the door an’
locked her.

Lafe’s itemized bill (he finished the job in half the time,
since his adrenaline wuz still drippin’ like warm-spell
maple sap) included: parts, one dollar; labor, two dollars;
enough likker to stop his hand shakin’, three dollars; an’
the 50 dollars danger pay as promised. He slid the bill
under the door, an’ the money slid out, an’ the motorin’
home fired up an’ took off like a square missile.

‘Bout a month later, a letter come, registered an’ special
dee-livery, askin’ Lafe to please send by return mail the
wallet thet wuz in them pants. Natcherly, Lafe sent back a
nice reply explainin’ thet said wallet wuz all over the
yard, but not to worry about the credit cards ’cause they
wuz no longer usable. An’ if he wanted proof, it would have
to ar rive in a mailin’ tube.

— Jeff Taylor

Editor’s Note: Do you have a distinctive bit of regional American humor you think the Plumtree boys should hear on their travels? If so, send it to Last Laugh, MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Hendersonville, NC. We’ll pay $10 for any joke we publish (that the fellas didn’t know already!).

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