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Old Yeller
  by Pops McKernan  
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"There's a bunch of dogs in our backyard!" screams Mr. Pops.

"What do they look like?"

"They're dogs! What do you think they look like? A couple of Labs, a Chesapeake Retriever, a Portuguese Water Dog, and Barker."

"Relax. It's just Barker's gang."

"Barker has a gang? Since when?"

"They've been coming around ever since Central Elgin decided to replace their Dog Beach with a Public Boat Launch. "

"You mean they're plotting?"

"Don't be silly." (Women.)

"Well tell them to go home."


"What?" asks Mrs. Pops.

"They're digging up the lawn! Look!"

"Their making a cut-out in the shape of-"

"The Dan Patterson Conservation Area!"

"And now they are taking turns-"

"Peeing on it? That's gonna kill our grass."

"Why would they do that?"

"Don't you get it? That's where the new Dog Park is located!"

"So? Don't dogs like dog parks?"

"You need to think like they do!"

"Like who do?"

"The Barker Gang! Breeds that love the water! You think they prefer the half-hour drive from Port to the Conservation Area so they can get abused by some berserk Chihuahua, when they could be frolicking in their little hometown swimming hole?"

"But the Dog Beach isn't official. Dog owners just started occupying it."

"Isn't that why dogs and their owners come to Port? To enjoy the lake? But no. Central Elgin has decreed this tiny slice of lake off limits to pooches. They're determined to spend two hundred grand on some well-heeled boat owners, who probably complained at one of those stupid Vision Meetings that they somehow can't afford to pay thirteen bucks at Stan's Marina. That's Central Elgin's idea of democracy?"

"You don't know that! Your so-called Dog Beach is where the old Public Boat Launch used to be. They're just reviving it." (She is so contrary.)

"They're gonna tear down what they built just two years ago, for this boat launch? For what? The most Stan's makes from their launch is maybe twenty grand in a good year."

"How do you know?" asks Mrs. Pops.

"Stan told me."

"I don't think so."

"I mean, somebody at Stan's, OK? Tell me, why does Central Elgin want to compete with a Port business? What's next? A free Public Burger Joint next door to Mackies?"

"I'd like that" she says. (Most Communists would.) "They could call it Elgin Burger Central."

"So much for free enterprise! The BIA should be all over this!"

"Calm down! You're frothing at the mouth! Just like that dog. In that movie. When they shot him."

"Imagine how these dogs feel! No wonder they're plotting in our back yard."

"What do you think they're up to?" she asks

"Well I just hope that nobody on Council Staff owns a cat. But what really concerns me is the Grand Opening of the new dog park on August 23rd. The usual grinning suspects will all be there to cut the leash. The Brains of Elgin County, who aren't ever allowed to fly on the same plane, all assembled in one place. Quite the opportunity."

"You don't think ..."

"It won't be the Barker Gang. Those dogs are too smart. They'll get some dimmer breed to do their dirty work!"

"But how?"

"Two words: Suicide Boxer."

Editor's Note: Pops McKernan is the byline of writer Patrick Harding, author of Splendiferous, which is serialized in our Regional section.

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