The Dogs of Sherburne : A Great American Dog NOvel by author Tom Mody

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Meet the Dogs of Sherburne
dog Dallasdog Sugardog Scooter
dog Laddiedog Scampdog Sam
dog Hobiedog Generaldog Brandi
dogs Tuffy & Mitsy

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Author Contact:
Tom Mody
Mody Company Creative
607-336-6233 ph | 607-336-6232 fx
56 West Main, Norwich NY 13815


Author Notes | Chapter Excerpts | Fact or Fiction | Paw Prints

Chapter 12 Excerpts

Warm and Fuzzy Brains

"I would say that if we can walk around in our environment with a warm and calm feeling about us, then we are capable of the core basis of assumption. It’s not so much that assumption requires intelligence. It’s more a response to conditioning over time. A repetitive familiarity of which we grow accustom. I think what separates us domestic animals, and dogs in particular, is that familiarity makes us warm inside- emotionally. Most animals can probably generate the same basic comfort from their mother or a safe familiar nest but domestic animals seem to connect with their whole environment. For us dogs of Sherburne at this peak of evolution, assumptions and expectations drive the bulk of our daily activities. We get a warm chemical reaction in our brains when the noon time whistle sounds and when we catch the scent of new leather from an open doorway at Hodge’s Department Store. We get a high when the things we assume to happen about the village do in fact happen.

You’d think the same anticpated high would work with the other dogs but it doesn’t. I’m never calm when I’m south of the village and Scooter jumps out of a bush. I’m always surprised to see Scamp sittin’ right on his front porch. It can get tiresome freakin’ out everytime we cross paths. It surpressess that high."




Dead Meat!

" I took possession immediately carrying the deer leg up the embankment and attempted to put my concerns aside and delve into the doggie moment. The pungent leg had a salty, soggy, slightly cool taste that would send you humans hurling on your shoes. To me it was a curious delight. My glands had barely begun salivating it’s enzymes when a secondary scent crossed my snout. Seconds later there was sniffing in my ear. Scooter was on the case and apparently hoping to share. Let him go lick sticks along side a cat again, I wasn’t sharing this find. Had I been less consumed I mighta’ given his apparent resurrection a second thought but the casualness in doggie nature let it have no relevance. For I was with meat and in meat I do pledge sole attention.

I didn’t even give him the doggie equivalent of “nice to see ya, Scooter”. I just lashed at him as if it were any other day and he moped off. I was however, able to conclude that where Scooter roams, Sugar is not far behind. The last thing I wanted was to have to fuss with that relentless scrounge happy bastard. I just decided to head home with my find and chomp in peace. Getting through the street lined spectators wasn’t a problem. No one seemed intent on impeding the path of soaking wet dog with a severed animal appendage in tow. Moses never had a path so clear."


"Scamp approached me but as with Scooter, I coulda’ cared less about their long awaited reappearance to our free village. I picked up my find and trotter further into the park. Scamp followed me. I paused and snarled at him to stop tailgating me but he growled back. I concluded he’s ganna’ be pissey. I wasn’t going to be able to just walk away. We were just ganna’ have to fight over this deer leg that was suppose to bring me a moments peace. I turned even more menacing and began to snarl as best I could with a severed leg in my mouth.

You figure, I gotta look mean, right? Imagine if you were walkin’ down some alley and you encountered a guy comin’ at ya’ with a severed leg in his mouth. You’d crap your pants right there, right? It’s almost like I was packin’ a “piece”. For you humans, when a guy flashes a gun or knife you know he’s seriously dangerous. We’ll, I was packin’ the doggie equivalent, a severed deer leg which should leave the impression this was fresh from my recent kill so don’t mess with me."


"The deer leg is as eluering to us canines as money or drugs to man. I would consider some warm tail as well but I think that’s a temptation we both share. We can avoid temptation or it can avoid us (as it violently did in the park) but until it’s disposed of, it will continue to draw trouble. You might think that’s a bad thing, and it usually is, but on occasion temptation has a destiny. Not to draw destruction from it’s possessor but to set in motion a higher plan. The fruition of that plan would certainly not be without dire consequence but at a decisive moment one can be revealed of the intended destiny- if they are willing to accept it. And so Scamp headed into the village with the rotten spoiled stench of temptation in his jaw. That he would carry it into the village instead of a secluded spot for personal pleasure tells me that decision was not of his own doing. It’s too bad, I really wanted him to puke on it.



"I managed to get off my butt and chase the frisbee around for a while. It is a neat little thing this floating disc. You get the full landing anticipation during the chase. With a stick it’s in the air, then just as quickly it lands and the retrieval part is kinda’ lame. I mean, it’s just layin’ there. Half the time we come back with a different stick than the one that was tossed so what was the point of even throwin’ it. At least with a ball you get the roll so there’s the potential to snatch it while it’s still in motion. And that’s the whole fun of it. How many times did I chase a squirrel and then have it just stop dead waiting for me to pounce on it- never! Look, the stick fetch was fine when humans only had wood and rocks at their disposal but evolved dogs, like evolved man, need the challenges and advantages of rubber and plastic."


The Peak

"I guess it’s just me being sentimental but it was a surreal kinda’ walk. Us dogs and the Masters, just hangin’ out in inter species camaraderie. Usually were fightin’ amongst ourselves or scattered about tryin to keep up with them on their bikes. This was just a group of God’s creatures on a slow pace reveling in the unusually warm summer evening. Musta’ been the full moon or the alignment of the planets or the simple contentment of fully satisfied bellies from sharing in the food, fun and frolic at the South Main Street Clambake. Life seemed so harmonious on that walk, it’s hard to imagine all important creatures of God weren’t feeling the same way. But dogs can’t comprehend what goes on beyond their range of senses. We can’t anticipate, extrapolate, encapsulate, theorize, realize, memorize, compartmentalize or any other “ate” and “ize”. Particularly when we are so content. And indeed there were a few creatures right here in our close knit village that were not in step with our walk’s bliss.

We’d realize that soon enough, but for it’s fifteen minute span it was a walk that was a lifetime in the making- the peak of the peak of doggie evolution. It unfortunately was Everest-like in it’s climax. You know, Mount Everest! Braving the cold and oxygen depravation and all the life threatening perils to reach a very brief moment of awe and calm you hope will stay with you even beyond the grave. Some people reach their life’s peak then slowly ascend, relaxed and content. The Everest-like peak is an all too fleeting moment in time with a descent as equally dangerous as the effort up. True, it was the middle of summer and our ground was quite level but the comparison works for me. When the walk was over our time would be done smiling off that peak and it was going to be a diffacult path to safe and comfortable ground."



"I guess it could also be thought of as odd that the very next night, after our harmonous inter-species walk, I did cross the street to the Inn. However, I was in the company of Sugar and Sam so it was more of a “go with the crowd” kinda’ thing. It certainly wasn’t by the power of my intuition. I thought the world was just peachy, harmonious and indisruptably in sync. Even as we were peaked by the scent of blood that was staining the sidewalk in paw marks right under noses, the potential at finding some insignificant kill to amuse our evening was to hopefully be a nice added bonus. It was a short trail to the back of the inn and we approached a stairwell that leads down to a basement and garbage area. Sugar seemed eager to make his way down the well when out from the shadows Scamp emerged. Strange to see him just lurking in darkness, it wasn’t his scene. He didn’t pose any aggressive stance towards Sugar but to use a Master phrase, he seemed a bit whacked.

Sugar was spooked, we all were. For the moment none of us moved any further towards the stair well. We kinda’ just watched Scamp waiting for him to move, snarl, wag, juggle sticks in paws... anything! Finally he just kinda’ lowered his head and nodded in the direction of the stairwell. Sam and I approached Sugar- Scamp didn’t show any signs of disapproval. My stomach was taken with a sudden onset of mild nausea. It wasn’t nerves, it was more an aromatic flash back. It had gotten a little breezy and a smell was causin’ a slow creep from my stomach into my throat. Damn, it was that rotten deer meat I thought was so feakin’ wonderful earlier in the day. I didn’t see the deer leg, it was just a vestige in the air but it was a fresh enough experience to put an uneasiness to my bowels."


The Dual

"At this point, the outside world is but a faded background. No sounds other than their breathing and no sights other than eye locked on eye can penetrate them. It’s an old fashioned western dual I remember well from my very first encounter with Sugar. The dynamic of this face-off is that General is expecting Scamp to move away and Scamp is hoping to slowly move into a strike position without first provoking General. The miscalculation here is that Scamp underestimates General’s willingness to simply plow right through him to get to the deer leg. One can act calm, cool and collected to a point but seconds before the moment of truth, subtleties can creep in.

In a great western dual, the extended paces between the combatants allows for some of those subtleties to be masked. At this stand-off, General’s breath was close enough to bead moisture on Scamps tuft. Scamp continued to slowly lift his head but was still looking up to make eye contact. His head was up enough, though, to make a legitimate strike at the underside of General’s neck. And so the moment of truth was seconds away. A dualist with his sweaty palms and shaky thumbs could safely conceal his tension by distance alone. Scamp’s paws don’t sweat but if he wants a shot at General’s neck, he’ll need to open his jaw upon attack. That requires the facial muscles to have impulses ready to hit the brain. A seemingly instantaneous transaction of neurological electricity if one is a hundred percent calm and committed to the attack. Even at eighty percent committed the attack will take place but there will be flaws. Most notably nervous tension or ticks."



"Have you ever dropped yourself on a bomb? Most likely not or you wouldn’t be here reading this. But if you by chance have thrown yourself on a bomb and are still suckin’ up air on this planet, you know it’s an awfully painful and prolonged experience. The bomb of course is a metaphor but it could be a grenade or bullet or some other knowingly painful object that required your immediate attention to prevent something dear to you from being lost. Us dogs have been sniffin’ out land mines and runnin’ in burning buildings for years now. All in the protection of your loved ones and for the greater good- your freedom. As a species of those sacrificed in human servitude, I’m both proud and dismayed. You know, that fine line between honor and stupidity. The blurred definition between a loyal pet and sacrificial lamb.

You need not be a dog of heavenly enlightenment to understand my deep admiration and respect for Hobie. For once, a dog’s sacrifice was of choice and for the preservation of freedoms our species had achieved. When Hobie picked up that deer leg he was the Boston Tea Party and Pearl Harbor for us village dogs. That bone of contention had been dragged and passed around the village for two days as we swapped and blended sloppy spit among us. And now, here it was as the catalyst for unification."