Ask Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m not a mean person, and I love animals. I really do. The thing that got to me about our little dog Rockne is that he was, well, obnoxious. His original name was Mr. Fluffs but we re-named him after we realized he was going to be a loud, persistent, yappy pest. Calling him “Rockne” was part of our private joke. We live on a banana plantation in southern Florida and he absolutely loved the fruit. So whenever one of us went into the yard the other invariably said “Go out there and skin one for the yipper.”

I guess you had to be there.

Anyway, Rockne’s vocalizing would come in waves. Sometimes he’d be quiet for almost a day, and then the following week he’d go at it non-stop. What really grated on my nerves was when he would go off while we were in the car. Something about the enclosed space magnified his yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, and it didn’t help that he simply couldn’t abide the site of a jogger. Something in his worldview totally rejected the concept of a human being in a designer sweatsuit, running.

And we saw lots of them. Weird, I know. You’d think people wouldn’t have to lift a finger, much less a foot, to break a sweat in south Florida. But run they did, and Rockne let ‘em have it every time we spied someone chugging down the road. The sound inside the car was excruciating. Finally one day I stopped to let the jogger go by before opening the door and telling Rockne to get out and chase her. It was a foolish, spiteful move. I figured he would run for a short distance, wear himself out, think better of his compulsion, and that would be the end of that. No more barking at people along the road. I was counting on the day’s high heat and humidity to drive home the point.

I’ll never forget it – just before he sprang out of the car, Rockne gave me a long, last look. There was something potent in it. Not reproachful, just … accepting and maybe a little judgmental. But it was profound. And then he was gone.

He skittered off after the jogger just as fast as his little legs would carry him, but before he got close enough to catch her he quite suddenly veered into the underbrush and disappeared into what I then realized was The Everglades.

I was kind of heartbroken. I mean, on a certain level I was happy to be rid of him, but on the other hand I realized he probably couldn’t survive out there. I mean, the Everglades has bobcats! Not to mention crocodiles AND alligators! My wife was deeply ticked off – this was six months ago and she still won’t speak to me. And now today I see THIS!

Apparently Burmese Pythons are killing just about everything in the Everglades. My only hope is that Rockne managed, through some unexpected combination of wisdom, yappy persistence and canine guile, to convince the pythons that they were brethren, and rather than lunch he became King of the Released Pet Nation.

Otherwise, I’m feeling really, really guilty right now. But should I?

Sincerely,
Remorseful About The Fate I’ll Never Know

I told R.A.T.F.I.N.K. he should absolutely feel remorse. Putting any creature out of the car within shouting distance of the Everglades ought to be a crime, but especially a tempting morsel like Mr. Fluffs (or Rockne, if you must). But I would not comfort myself with the thought that your dog somehow became King of the Pythons. That would not be a good development for you. Just in case, you should stay far, far away from the swamp.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

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45 thoughts on “Ask Dr. Babooner”

  1. i love the topic today dr babooner. ratfink is the protypical blog fodder and the everglades are the perfect place for this unlassie come home saga. if rockne is as aggressive in the everglades as he is in the human world he has a chance although i do see a snappy little yip harassing a large boa for just about longenough before … poof mini little prince drawing. a small hat with a fluffy little dog instead of an elephant but nature in the grand scheme just the same.http://www.angelfire.com/hi/littleprince/chapter1.html
    should you feel guilty? before you decide i have this basset that to would like to ask you to take for a ride…

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    1. Zeke wouldn’t like that – he needs to have Paws around to blame it on when he steals a chunk of cheese. :-)

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      1. i think you are right. paws is the catch all for stuff like that . we were chewing her out ffor eating cat poop when out comes little dog with a piece of cat poop in his mouth

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  2. Dear RATFINK,
    The npr coverage on this topic says that the pythons have reduced the deer population by 98%. If they can open their jaws wide enough for deer, they should be able to swallow you and the joggers without a struggle. If I were yu Iwould leave the Everglades as soon as possible and avoid the fate you forced upon Mr Fluffs.
    Dr Babooner
    PS I hear there are very few pythons in Luverne, MN

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    1. There may be more pythons in Luverne than you think. My second cousin, TJ, who is a friend of Krista, is a real snake and reptile lover. He grew up in Luverne, as did I, and you never know what may be lurking int he basement of his parents’ house.

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  3. Good morning to all. Well, RATFINK, don’t you know that you should have kept your dog on a leash? That’s what I do. Dogs that run free are a hazard. Dogs that are on the loose are a problem when I take our dog for a walk. It isn’t much fun to have a stray dog running nearby causing my dog to go crazy when I am out for a walk with him.

    I would like to let our dog run free if I could trust him to come back. That’s not the case. Our nieghbor has dogs that come back when they are called. I’ve never had a dog that wouldn’t run away if it got loose. I am amazed when I see dogs come when called. My dogs train me, I don’t train them. I think that’s okay, but I would like to have a dog that would come back when called.

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  4. i went to pick up the newspaper on sunday at the top of the driveway and there on top of the orange prophylactic baggie that keeps the news from coming into contact with the outside world were a collection of little gifts left by one of the neighbor hood yipsters. they were larger than rabbit but smaller than deer. i was laughing and wondering what kind of neighbor would allow their dog to crap on my paper and no pick it up. upon further inspection there were no people prints only little lapsize doggie prints coming off the street down my driveway on to my newspaper and then back out again. the orange bag looked like it was calling out to the little dog it appears. i was pleased that i have a neighbor who is old school enough to let the little dog out without fear of coyotes or angry neighbors. when i was a youngster i let my lab basset run free and this was not always appreciated by the neighbors what with the basset influence there was the constant search for any morsel of food and garbage cans bags or other unfended food holding device was fair game. i never worried about the dog coming back it was the only place the dog wanted to be but the run ins with porcipine and skunk were inconvienient but not unexpected. if that dog were alive today i would expect it to bring back snake residue on a regular basis. deer and little yipsters are not known for their alpha tendencies related to predators. my lab basset took on a friends alaskan dog fighting champ and won respect. sometimes its not where you go its who you are. other times it is not so. scarface was on lastnight and the enviormnet was all it took to assure death in that one. i told my kids that s why their mom wont let them out of her sight. she grew up on scarface and the like. i hear the killer movies are on the decline as is the violence in the world today but i don’t think snakes are privy to the development out there in the cable television world. its a little premordial out there i the everglades and the battle of the fittest goes to the snake over the yipster every time. i would guess when the snake was done with him he looked a little more like a rockne than a mr fluff

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  5. Maybe this poem describes the fate of Rockne.

    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    And I don’t like it very much

    Oh no! He’s got my toe!

    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    And I don’t like it very much

    Oh Gee! He’s got my knee!

    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    And I don’t like it very much

    Oh My! He’s got my thigh!

    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    And I don’t like it very much

    Oh Fiddle! He’s got my middle!

    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    And I don’t like it very much

    Oh Heck! He’s got my neck!

    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
    And I don’t like it very much

    Oh Dread! He’s got my – GULP

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    1. Yay for Shel Silverstein! (And now I shall be singing that song all day in my head…at least I hope it stays in my head, otherwise my co-workers might worry.)

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  6. This isn’t a metaphor for something else, is it? You know, Rockne and Newt, or something? Just checking…

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      1. Newt is kind of like a pooch that barks too much from time to time. He did take a wrong turn and ended up in a bad place while in Florida. Dale, what are you suggesting? Was Mit laying in wait for Newt in Florida like a Python in the Everglades?

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  7. My husband read an editorial the other day that remarked on the close resemblance between Romney and Guy Smiley, the Sesame Street muppet reporter. May be this is a story for Guy to cover.

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    1. i got a kick out of mitt the other day. felt sorry for him. remember when hd tv was coming in and the tv stations comercials were making fun of the make up the anchors would wear with don shelbey in a clown face …well mit has clown hair. the color he does the top with doesnt match the side. the side is salt and pepper and the top is auburn with the red tinge that is not there on the side. oh mitt, do you want us to think you are 30 or are you no ready for the reagan shoe black. it will be good for the book deal after you are done with your attempt at running the free world. what was the movie about the tv news anchor who was pretty but a fluff head who got the job because he looked good. we alread had dubya look at the camera with that blank stare waiting for the voice on the other end of the earpeice to tell him what he is thinking. mitt is the same guy different face. newt … nother story. like lets not even go there unless we need to

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  8. I suspect, RATFINK, that deep in your subconscious, you knew that the Everglades were behind that thicket and some deep self-preservation instinct made you open that door allowing Mr. Fluffs/Rockne to run free. You can console yourself knowing that Rockne probably had a few hours of unfettered freedom, a rarity for a domesticated yipper, before becoming the entree du jour at Chez Python – he probably barked at everything that he could see. Sheer bliss for a pooch of his ilk. But by now I’m sure he is fertilizer for the flora that feeds the smaller fauna in that area.

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  9. Feral dogs of two types were a problem where I grew up.

    First type: we were close to town but at the end of a lonely road, a perfect place apparently to drop off dogs you did not want. A few came to our farm, some must have wandered back into town. A few stayed and lived in the woods, one or two living through a winter on their own.

    Second type: people’s pets would wander in packs, especially in the wintertime. Back then few people restricted their dogs, especially country people. The dog packs would run down deer and kill them for sport. In a year of heavy crusted snow they killed many. We often saw the deer they had killed in the woods around us and every now and then the dog packs, sometimes they would wander right into our yard. My father got very upset about all this. To him the wolves had a right to deer but people’s pets did not. (We never once had wolves bother our animals. Bears, yes, wolves no.) I wrote in almost unadapted from an incident of my father dealing with a dog pack.

    I think I have told the story about Beverley, the semi-feral cat: she did not approve when we got a new dog, the border collie who was my childhood and teen years companion. So Beverley moved into the Back 40. She survived for many years. If one of us came near her without the dog, she would come down to be petted, but if the dog appeared, she would race back up a tree.

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  10. What a day on the prairie here in Evan!!

    OT I don’t think I have ever explained about me and gluten-free. Maybe. But anyway, an update: I went on a very restricted GF diet on 11/8 and stayed very strict until 12/30, when I relaxed it slightly, enough to eat oatmeal again and risk some bottled sauces. It has had no effect whatsoever on my pain and related symptoms. As a matter of fact my osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis both got worse, which I think is coincidence, winter flair-up probably. My minor psoriasis got better, almost disappeared for awhile. So on 1/13 I went back to my rheumatologist, who is also my wife’s primary doctor. We had appointments one after another. She dismissed me as a lost cause I guess. She has diagnosed me as having messed up body chemistry (too long an explanation would be required). which is not in her bailiwick, and dismissed me as a patient. So as I sat waiting for my wife, I was planning my reentry into the wonderful world of gluten. I would gladly take back my minor psoriasis to eat gluten. Out comes my wife with the suggestion that she try GF for her lupus. I bet you can see this coming: GF has done good things for her, reduced her pain. The only way she is going to manage GF is for me to manage it for her. So I am on GF for life I guess, which is fine. I have no problem with it, It is a good way for me to manage my diet to manage some weight loss that I need. I who get no real benefit from it, have no problem. My wife who gets a big benefit out if it, hates it and has trouble staying in it despite the benefit.

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  11. hey clyde i am the veggie in a house full of carnavores and i make ribs, burgers, steaks, roasts, chicken and if they tell me it tastes like crap i apolagize because i cant tell other than by smell and guestimation form the taste of the herb spices and sauces if i can try those. make a big batch of gluten free stuff and freeze it. you dont have to worry about screwing up the taste. there isnt any. then go get you some gluten and leave it on the front shelf of the fridge without fear of your wife sneaking your food.

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  12. Well, I’m a little curious, like others, about the name “Rockne,” and it’s making me wonder, like BiR, whether this is a metaphor for something else – maybe someone named Romney? If so, don’t feel bad RATFINK. It means that the Newt will win the nomination and the Republican Party will have a melt-down over what to do? What to DO? And that will be fun to watch.

    However, if Rockne is indeed a little yipper, you should absolutely, definitely feel horribly, awfully bad. Your lack of impulse control and concern for joggers and yippers is startling. Go for a walk in the Everglades and think about it.

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    1. I thought that the yipper refered to the gipper, Knut Rockne, and that dog is Newt not Mitt. In fact, I mistakenly thought Rockne, the gipper or yipper, had Newt as a first name, and that is a mistake other people make, maybe not Dale. This is all guess work. Only Dale knows what he was thinking. Also, “win one for the gipper” refers to part of a pep talk Knute Rockne gave and Knute, himself, was not know as the gipper. This is getting very confusing.

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  13. I may be way out in left field here, but to me Rockne sounds suspiciously like a football coach of yore. In the film “Knute Rockne, All American,” Ronald Regan played the role of “George ‘The Gipper’ Gipp,” giving him the nickname “The Gipper” for the rest of his life. “Win one for the Gipper” became a slogan for Regan and the Republicans, and that’s what I thought of when I saw “Go out there and skin one for the yipper.” Where does this allegory lead? Not sure I can fit the pieces together to make sense of it. What does the boa represent? Anyone?

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    1. That’s what I was reminded of too, PJ – Knute or Newt… and then of course there’s the newt that is a reptile, and here we go to the Everglades again. I don’t follow the political game closely enough to know (which may be the understatement of the year).

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      1. Perhaps that Newt’s constant yapping will lead to the end of him? No reason to feel guilty hoping that’s the case. Given the opportunity, I’d personally feed him to a boa.

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      2. And i think you guys are trying too hard. Thanks! Real artists get this treatment all the time, so I appreciate the expenditure of mental energy on something that was, for me, not nearly as deep or complicated as you imagine.

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      3. Thanks for the explanation, Dale. I still think there could be a deeper meaing in what you wrote. There may be some deep meaning there that none of us completely understand. Who knows?

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  14. Maybe the little prince was onto something — after all, it WAS an elephant (read Republican) in the Belly Of A________ (the beast/reptile/newt). A good metaphor for those guys eating each other alive. And to think it’s all happening in Florida as we speak. “Deliverance” all over again. Haven’t we seen this one before?

    I don’t know. There’s just something too outlaw-ish about the everglades for me. It’s the ish factor. Even though a free roaming Minneapolis cat squished by a bus is just as dead as a wandering doggie swallowed by a python in the everglades. This story is just one more reason in my arsenal of why I won’t vacation there. Crocodiles in the murky brown water, pythons dripping from the trees, missing link type humanoids poling around in little flat bottom boats :-) Kinda creepy.

    Just a couple days ago a friend was trying to convince me to go “down there”. No thanks, I’d rather go north. Maybe to Quebec.

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      1. Renee, I booked the ticket today! Flying into Burlington VT and driving north–strictly economy class, but we like to see the countryside. We’re not going till August but it will be our first real vacation since 1990 when we went to Scotland for our 20th anniversary. the first time Bill and I had coffee across from Art Materials in Dinkytown (1969), he asked me to go to Quebec with him and we’re finally doing it 43 years later! Any favorite restaurants, activities to recommend? Books to read, tales to tell?

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      2. Oh my! We have spent two weeks in Montreal three of the last four summers. We love the old port area especially, and I am most famliar with that area. There are wonderful restaurants at every turn. One really fun place is the Marche de la Villette, a small, family run restaurant and charcuterie in the old port area on rue St. Paul that is always packed and has the most amazing terrines, sausages, and sandwiches. The atmosphere is amazing. I would also recommend an art gallery La Guilde Graphique, which has a nice collection of affordable and not so affordable original prints, engravings, and etchings. It is also on rue St. Paul. We stayed at the Hotel Nelligan, also on rue St. Paul, which is spendy but worth it. There are tons of places to stay, though. There is so much history there, and wonderful museums to see. The Basilica Notre Dame de Montreal is a beautiful and also in the old city.

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      3. I would get a Fodors guide. it was really helpful for us. The city has a really good subway system, and it is easier in many respects than driving in the city. I really liked the open air market Marche Jean Talon, which is in Little Italy and has all sorts of great local produce, meats, cheeses, jams, baked goods, you name it. People there are very kind if you don’t speak French. They are not that way in Quebec City, so i am told. I don’t think we are going this summer. Montreal is considered the fashion capitol of Canada. The museum of Fine Arts is really good. The last time we were there we saw a retrospective of the work of Yves St. Laurent, complete with actual clothes he designed. I could go on and on.

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