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Toby & Mamma Bear
American Dog #3
© 2023 James LaFond
NOV/25/23
Mamma Bear wakes to the world and smells flowers, hears bid songs and babbling brooks, sees butterflies and green fields, and thinks of the good that will be brought each day.
Toby wakes to that same world and smells food too good for him to sample more of a taste, wild animals that want of him to taste, hears dread songs singing down the Mountain and monstrous hooves muddying still waters, sees coyote and giant cat tracks hunting him by night, and tries to put off the fears that yawn abysmal with each dawning day.
Thus, Mamma Bear is Toby’s hope, his comfort, the ray of sunlight that might possibly overcome the world’s wicked blight.
Toby has been told by his master, his human benefactor, James Chosen, that his chief responsibility is the protection of Mamma Bear, and, secondarily, Granny in the Chair, Mamma Bear’s own mother.
In actuality, Toby delegates these responsibilities to Smooka Bear, who is usually home, is tall and fearless as an ape can be, is handy with the food and the door and does not have the dread sense that informs Toby that bad things are forever creeping upon them.
James and Benny Bear spend most of every day away, toiling for crueler and more important humans just as Toby toils on behalf of cats.
There is something about the rising tone of Mamma Bear’s voice, when she sings at the organ to wake Granny in the Chair, when she calls for Toby, “Come, Toby, come on, boy!” that ignites anew a passion for doing good and winning approval within Toby’s haunted soul.
None of the many chapters of Toby’s adventuresome life can be told complete without understanding his complete emotional dependence upon the wife of James Chosen, who rescued him and brought Toby home to her.
Toby has ear issues, stemming, he has been told, from those Slanty-Eyed Devils basting him in the meat shop with some proprietary dog marinade. When Toby’s ears hurt, Mamma Bear brings Toby cotton swabs, a cottony cloth, ear cleaner and ear-feel-better ointment. Three times a week the Slanty-Eyed Devil marination disease is kept at bay by Mamma Bear’s kind ministration. Unfortunately, this permits Toby to hear better the many dreadful sounds of the world.
One of the cues that Toby’s creator lacks kindness is that he was born with chronic dry skin, most chronically on his rear haunches, and that he was not provided with a third set of paws for scratching this terrible itch. Mamma Bear gives Toby a bath every week with a skin soothing shampoo, not dunking him in the pond or the creek, but washing him in the family bath tub.
Additionally. Mamma Bear must realize that some terrible breeds of monster stalks Toby, some by day and others by night. For she sweeps up his coarse black hairs from inside the house in order that the slathering fiends that hunt for black dogs in this country will not easily locate his bed, or come up from the bowels of the earth with great digging claws to drag Toby into the abyss from his spot by the wood stove. Here, Toby rests his chin on the warm flint flags under the house warming oven.
All such places he frequents and leaves hair trace, Mamma Bear sweeps clean to conceal his hiding places.
His favorite hiding place is under the dining room table at James’ feet. He feels safe here. Then there is the foot of Smooka Bear’s bed.
When Annie bullies Toby out of his bed and reclines there in feline majesty, Mamma Bear will occasionally grab the cat and toss it outside so that Toby might have his place back.
Then there are Toby’s paws. Toby has big black paws with glassy black nails and a very strong dew claw. He worries about his distinctive paws, that they might give him away to those who hunt him, either by sound or trace. Toby forever nibbles at his nails to keep them short and licks his paws in hopes disguising his tracks.
When he does so, the sign that Mamma Bear loves him, the red heart tag jingling upon his soft leather collar inscribed with his American name, makes a soft metal song and helps dampen the slathering thirst that the very mountain harbors for Toby’s black hide.
Mamma Bear gives Toby the occasional leather bone and summons him to walk about the homestead with her, both of them lacking confidence in their ability to combat the horrors of the forest alone, but feeling stronger together.
There is only one thing that Mamma Bear get angry about—peeing on her things, to include her flowers, vegetable garden, fire wood, stairs, porch and other exterior portions of the house. On this count Mamma Bear will even rise up against her husband, James.
It is good, James has declared, to pee on mole holes, and to pee on snow piles. When James starts drinking beer after dinner, he and Toby step into the yard and police the moles in this way.
A few beers later, James will stop at the driveway edge and pee on the pavement, Toby doing likewise, lifting his leg on the least offensive blade of grass or leaf that might have found purchase on the pavement, but generally peeing on Annie’s kill of the day, whatever little creature it might have been, tossed on the driveway.
A few beers later, when night had come shroud like down, James would go to the edge of the porch and pee out onto the driveway, which would bring a cry of protest from Mamma Bear. Toby did not take such chances. For one, he feared being abandoned by Mamma bear and for another, he did not want the monsters to know he was in the house by marking the outside of it. Rather, he peed as far away from the house as he could summons the courage to.
Mamma Bear was forceful when necessary. Once, when the Stray Human [subject of future chapters] was drinking a great many glasses of beer with his master, James just opened the door to the porch and began to pee out on the porch, to which Mamma Bear responded by shoving her husband out the door and off the porch.
Lesson learned, no matter how fearful Toby was of the monsters stalking him, he would never pee on any exterior portion of Mamma Bear’s house—ever.
Toby loves Mamma Bear and whines deeply whenever he hears her musical voice.
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