December 2, 2008


 Diane felt blessed

Tonto, beloved companion of Diane Eisner of Trabuco Canyon, died of a stroke on Tuesday, December 2, 2008. He was hovering outside the kitchen, waiting for a snack, when he passed. The precise age of the black-and-white pit bull/Labrador mix with the sad eyes and crooked tail is unknown.  He was adopted.  Friends, unable to find a rental home that accepted two kids and a dog, opted to keep the kids and give Diane the dog. Diane felt blessed.

The result of hard knocks and obedience training (which didn’t quite take), Tonto liked to chase skunks, tree opossums and eat cat poop. An equal opportunity provider, he preferred to hump males but would also hump females – regardless of breed, age, ethnicity or appearance. He never quite came out of the closet.

“Why aren’t you scratching my ears?”

Tonto, many say, could have been a Wal-Mart Greeter, a sometimes overly-enthusiatic one.  He basically scared the hell out of the gardener, the garbage man and the mailman – anyone within barking distance. Diane’s guests got a special reception, tackled with a leap to the hip and a sunny “Woof!” (“Why aren’t you scratching my ears?”) He saved his most passionate devotion for his one-and-only mistress, Diane, sleeping on her bed, snuggling up on her pillow and crawling up to join her on her pure-white living room chair.

dogs.jpgSweet tempered, with a taste for cookies and bones, Tonto was an extrovert – something of a ham, actually. Two of his best chums were stepsiblings, Houdini (a Pomeranian) and Tara (a Sheltie). Houdini (pictured at left with Tonto) sometimes stood on his hind legs and swatted Tonto in the face so as to snatch a dog cookie; Tara tended to launch unprovoked attacks.  Tonto pretty much ignored the slights, maintaining his role as head of the family and refusing to allow his two younger siblings to rule the roost. Tonto was Diane’s first, afterall, and everyone knows where the first guy ranks in a gal’s affections.

All except the day of the Park Caper. Let’s let Diane tell it.

The little black dog wasn’t a dog at all

“One winter evening about four years ago, Tonto, Houdini and I met up with our friend Janet and her two dachshunds, CeeCee and Buddy, at the little dog park on the Ridge Route.  As it got dark, Janet and I continued talking as Tonto and CeeCee scampered about at the far end of the park.  Suddenly, I noticed CeeCee sitting at my feet – this as Tonto romped with a new friend, a little black dog, across the way. Only one problem. The little black dog wasn’t a dog.

It was a SKUNK.

The skunk did what skunks do

I stood up and yelled for Tonto.  He ignored me, as usual, forcing me to resort to The Voice, the one that says ‘If you don’t get over here this minute, you’re in big trouble, buster!’  This, naturally, alerted our other three dogs, and they, naturally, charged across the park, barking their heads off. The skunk, naturally, did what skunks do, turned around and sprayed Tonto square in the face.

By the time we reached the disaster, my poor dog was crying – the other dogs utterly stupefied by the smelly cloud settling over them like nuclear waste. Janet and I, meanwhile, stood agonizing over how to get our pets de-skunked. Unless we wanted to be drenched in skunk ourselves, not to mention our cars, we were going to have to attach our dogs to our bumpers and drag them home. Since we didn’t think they would make it six feet, much less six miles, we relented and contaminated our cars.

Someone else smells like rotten eggs

The remedy for skunk (thank God we knew it!) is a whole lot of tomato juice. Off we go to our respective Stater Brothers to buy in bulk. Since skunk stench resembles burning tires, my entrance into the store caused something of a stir, people asking if the store was on fire. Waiting to pay for my purchases, a Stater employee whispered that something smelled bad. Really bad. I reassured her that it was me, and that I was leaving post haste. Just as I said this, my phone rang and it’s Janet. She is suffering the same indignity at Stater Brothers across town, only she’s trying to make it look as if someone else smells like rotten eggs.

Slick as a greased pig

Off I go to the house. Tonto, tomato juice, lemon and a huge red bucket are hauled upstairs to the stall shower. Stripped to my nothings, I try to get my dumb dog in the bucket so I can soak him in tomato cocktail. No way, Jose. I remove the bucket and pull the dog in the shower with me. Three cans of tomato juice later, Tonto has had enough, bolts out of the shower, shakes himself off all over the bathroom, and then tears into my all white bedroom to further decorate with tomato. By this time, my roommate Stacy has arrived home and gets into the act, trying desperately to help me corral Tonto, who’s slick as a greased pig from the tomato juice. She finally gets a hold of him, drags him outside and hoses him off.  The smell never came out of his collar

Houdini, ever the stoic one, took his tomato juice bath in stride.

What I wouldn’t give to have him…smelling of skunk

Months later Tonto chased another skunk, but lucky for him (and me) he didn’t catch that one. Still, what I wouldn’t give to have him greet me at the door, smelling of skunk, crooked tail wagging furiously, doing his repertoire of tricks (sit, stay, speak, play dead) so I will treat him to a cookie. I just wish I’d told him more often: ‘I love you, Tonto!’”

Tonto is survived by Diane, Houdini and Tara. Electing to have his tubes tied so as not to overburden the planet, he was without offspring. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent in Tonto’s name to the ASPCA. [KBL]


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