I woke up to the smell of corn chips and I knew what my wife’s first words of the morning would be.
“The dog needs a bath.”
See, when a Maltese starts getting gamey it smells exactly like corn chips, especially near the paws. Left alone, the smell eventually devolves into something less pleasant but the early warning sign of bath deprivation is indeed a wafting of Fritos. “Fritos Feet” is not a condition reserved for Malts. Other dogs, especially those of the frou-frou varieties, get this too.
Why? Nobody knows for sure but it seems to be caused by some completely natural bacteria that out gas a yeasty odor, particularly the bacteria Proteus or Pseudomonas. Many pet owners say they actually enjoy this smell; my wife is not among them.
But at our place Max’s baths take place in late afternoon or evening so we still had the whole day ahead. A Frito kind of day.
We started with a brisk morning walk and by brisk I mean I drag the Malt along, pulling him away from the chicken bones, empty food wrappers and other detritus from the night before. The Malt is not a creature of the morning.
“Hey, Captain Kirk!”
I heard the guy but I ignored him because my name’s not Kirk and yo soy marinero, no soy Capitan. I hoped he’d give up but my expectations were low because I attract street crazies like Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes attract coeds.
“Hey, Captain Kirk!”
So I turned and laid the gimlet eyeball on this apparent escapee from the Federation and in my best Shatner voice said “Yo, wassup?” which is my standard greeting to those calling me a Kirk of any rank.
Immediately I could tell I had made a bad move – this denizen of Planet Goofy was clearly thrilled to have established eye contact. He now had an audience.
“Say, Captain, is that dog’s name Sam?”
I whisper, “Come on Max, let’s get moving”. Instead, the Malt looks at our interrogator and takes a shine to him, wags the tail and tries to approach, pulling the leash and doing the happy dog wiggle. I whisper, “Come on, doglet, engage the warp drive, I canna do this myself.” No such luck.
I now get a good look at our new dog walking companion. He’s probably mid-fifties, skinny as a chopstick, smells like a mix of remorse and bad decisions and sports both an eye patch and bandana which suggests a former career as a pirate.
By the way, if you see a pirate selling corn, ask him the price. Inevitably the response will be “a buccaneer”. Snorf, snorf.
But I digress.
“No, I said, this dog’s name is not Sam, why do you ask?”
“He looks like a Sam”, he replied.
“Well, his name is Max”, I countered.
“C’mere Sam, c’mere Sam, c’mere Sam…GODDAMIT, COME HERE SAM!!!”
“Let’s go, Max; see ya later buddy.” A firm yank of the leash follows.
We trundle away from the Space Pirate, me eagerly and Max reluctantly since he seems to have grown rather fond of the guy. We get about a half a block away when that familiar voice once more screeches out:
“Hey, Captain Kirk, how come Sam won’t come when I call him?”
I think, “Probably because his name’s not Sam.” But I yell back, “Because he’s deaf.”
“Well OK, that makes sense. See ya later, Kirk.”