Jim Butler (ajb@ZEPPO.GEOSURV.GOV.NF.CA)
Fri, 17 Dec 1993 15:49:53 NST
This is a Shaggy Dog story. For the uninitiated, a shaggy
dog story is one that is told at length with a great
deal of detail and the punch (frizzle) line is anticlimatic.
The story appeared in Leader Magazine (v11, n10, 1981) a number
of years ago and was written by Betty Rapkins.
A Shaggy Dog Story
Once upon a time, way up in the very north of Canada,
There lived a trapper named Sam. He was a poor man, but
a great reader, who shared his hard and lonely life
with several well-thumbed adventure yarns and a large
dog called Rover.
Now Rover wasn't much of a dog as purebreds go, his
pedigree having taken many a turn for the worse. You'd
be hard put to say whether he was mostly terrier or
wolfhound or huskie. But he was big and likeable and,
because of the cold climate, had a really exceptionally
thick shaggy coat.
One day, as Sam tramped along his traplines, he stopped by
another trapper's hut. The hut was empty but, on the table,
was a newspaper. Not a very recent newspaper, but a lot
more recent than Sam had read lately. So he sat down and
read it from front page to last. And there, on the last
page, a news item caught his eye. It said that, way down in
the southern part of the country, an eccentric millionaire
was offering half his fortune if only someone would bring
him his dying wish, a really shaggy dog.
This piece of news had a startling effect on Sam. Here at
last was a way to make his fortune. It was obvious! No more
struggling through bitter winter weather. No more loneliness
and hardship. He would simply head south wih big, oh-so-shaggy
Rover and the ailing millionaire would be a happy man. So,
of course, would Sam.
Carefully he tore the item from the newspaper and placed it in
his innermost pocket. Whistling for the dog, he hurried to his
own cabin, and there made preparations for his journey. It
would be a long haul through some of the worst of the winter
months, but he could do it!
And so, with packsack and snowshoes, and Rover on a makeshift
leash he headed south.
(Here you can embellish the tale with a series of mini-adventures
with blizzards, polar bears, etc.)
Weeks passed as Sam and Rover, footsore, frostbitten and fuddled
from lack of food, fought their way nearer and nearer to the
millionaire's deathbed. Would they find his house? Would he have
found another dog? Would he be still alive? Urgently, Sam made
enquiries at each trading post or small homestead he passed.
"My word, that's a shaggy dog you have there!" folks remarked
whenever he stopped.
As he drew near to civilization, he learned with great relief that
the search for a dog continued and that the millionaire's mansion
lay at the top of a steep hill just visible on the horizon.
Up they climbed, tired and tattered, arriving eventually at the
huge studded front door. Raising a weatherbeaten hand, Sam
tugged at the wrought iron bell-pull. Distantly the bell
clanged. The door opened and a butler stood in the doorway.
"I've come about the shaggy dog story in this newspaper," said Sam,
carefully drawing ou the clipping from his innermost pocket and
offering Rover's leash to the manservant.
Silently the butler withdrew with the dog. Sam listened to his
footsteps cross the vast hall and ascend the massive circular
staircase. He waited patiently on the doorstep, dreaming of the
luxury soon to be his. At last the butler reappeared. Solemnly he
handed back the dog.
"Not shaggy enough," he said and shut the door.
Have a Happy Christmas!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City