An excerpt from The Eight Fingered Criminal's Son
Kookie the Wonderdog
by W.Z Snyder
© 2008 William Snyder
Two narrow strips of cracked white concrete crept along the side of the house. Green and yellow weeds sprouted from cracks. Leading up to a battered wooden garage, the driveway was cut in half by a rickety swinging gate that separated the front and back yards. It was at this gate that my best friend, Kookie the Wonder Dog, nearly met an early demise.
I was just a squirt, maybe five or six. My Uncle Ronnie, who was attending UCLA, was hanging out in the back yard with some of his buddies. They were wearing crew cuts, smoking Kools, and drinking cans of Schlitz beer. Each of them was dressed in cuffed Levis and an unbuttoned Pendleton worn over a pressed white t-shirt.
One of the guys was tossing sticks for Kookie the Wonder Dog. The dog was a victim of OCDFD- that is Obsessive Compulsive Doggy Fetching Disorder. Kookie had a true need to fetch. And she would fetch anything; sticks, rocks, bricks; it didn't matter. I can remember throwing the same rock for her into a river for several hours. I guess I was easily entertained at the time. Kookie kept diving, sometimes twenty or thirty times on one rock fetching trip, but she never failed to come back with the same rock that I had thrown.
Half dachshund and half beagle; that was the heritage some veterinarian had determined for her. The loveable mutt followed my father home from a bar one day. I was told she was named after the subject of the song with the line: Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb. She was always covered with fleas – sometimes freeways of fleas commuted from one end of her body to the other. I can remember spending hours hunting the fleas through the short brown fur on Kookie’s back. I ran my fingers through her fur until I spotted one of the little devils. Then I would pinch them in half between my fingernails. I was a respectable flea hunter. Her floppy ears were shredded like the frills of Daniel Boone’s buckskin shirt. Kookie the Wonder Dog and the German Sheppard down the street at the Florchamp's place fought viciously and often. She survived being run over cars time after time again. And somehow that flea ridden mutt lived to be more than twenty years of age.
Just for the heck of it, one of my uncle’s buddies picked up a two-by-four and heaved it over the gate and into the front yard. Kookie the Wonder Dog was on that two-by-four like a cheap suit. She balanced the piece of wood in between her choppers and headed for the back yard at full speed. There was a problem. The gate was a couple of feet narrower than the two-by-four. Physics took over when that hunk of wood slammed into the immovable objects that were the gateposts. That little dog was propelled a full fifteen feet into the weathered wooden garage door. SMASH. For a split second, Kookie the Wonder dog stuck to that garage door like a bug on to a windshield. Then she slid to the cement driveway where she lay with her legs saluting the sun like a dead cockroach.
"You killed my sister's dog you dumb sun of a bitch!" my uncle said, grabbing hold of the guy’s Pendleton and shoving him into the aluminum trashcans, spilling corn rinds and coffee grounds and beer cans all over the driveway. The two were trading punches and wrestling in the garbage when Kookie came to, gave her head a good shake and waddled to the front yard. She dragged the two by four into the back yard and began barking for someone to play fetch with her. The combatants stopped pummeling each other and looked at the mutt as if she were some kind of doggy ghost.