Cynophobia: (n) an irrational fear of dogs

Sometimes I am hesitant to tell you a story because I fear you will think I am pulling your leg (or tugging on your heart).

Just like all writers, I am guilty of some embellishment, but generally speaking, the plot line, characters and conclusions actually happened in some way, shape or form.

While traveling in Texas (which, by the way, could be the beginning of a dozen novels…)

Anyway, I found myself in a tiny community just south of Austin.

It was a place that was proud of being tiny, away from Austin and south.

Need I say more?

I came in with my music group to put on a series of concerts in the region—because apparently the person who did our scheduling hated us.

Our music was too hip, our clothes were too modern, my hair was too long and the girls had that look in their eyes—of equal rights.

The whole event was a struggle, which we were actually succeeding in overcoming. That is, until they told us where we would be staying.

A lady offered her mobile home as a place for us to stay.

She failed to explain to us that she bred pit bulls.

She explained that she would not be there to greet us, but that the trailer would be open, and to “just go on in.” It never crossed my mind to ask about dogs.

So, driving up in our van, suddenly seven of the little monsters came running to the fence, alternating their barking. Three on one side, four on the other, back to the three on the one.

It was like a hellish chorus from a Wagner opera.

The animals stared at us—an uncomfortable probing, as if they were sizing up how long it would take to get us to the ground for the final kill.

One of the girls—who believed “doggies were really sweet”—thought she would step up to the fence and greet them, to see if she could allay their fear of strangers. As she did, one of the beasts from the left-hand chorus leaped up, sank his teeth into her purse and would not let go. We were barely able to free her from the purse so that the dog would not drag her into the pit of death and terminate her singing career.

We stood at the fence, gazing at these creatures for ten minutes. Twenty minutes. We were silent because nobody had any good idea on how to get into the house without being partially consumed.

After about three-quarters of an hour, the owner arrived and asked us why we hadn’t “gone on in.”

Without saying a word, all three of us pointed to the gathered horde.

She ridiculed us—especially me. She said, “You claim to be a man and you’re afraid of these puppies? What a pussy! They won’t hurt you!”

She then tossed her hair and looked at the three of us, saying, “Come on. Follow me. They won’t bother you.”

She was wrong–the dogs knew we were spooked.

Every time we tried to follow her through the fence, they jumped into the air, ready to attack.

At this point, the young woman turned to us, astonished, and said, “I don’t know what’s going on. They’re never like this. Did you do anything to hurt them?” We shook our heads. She continued. “It’s like they know you’re dangerous or something. Do you have evil spirits?”

Well, this was too far for me.

I declared, “Well, actually, we have good spirits. And apparently, these demon mutts are out to swallow them.”

The lady did not like my response. She headed inside, saying, “When you get up the courage, come on in.”

Seeing her leave, the dogs gritted their teeth, content that they had us to themselves. The girls in the group were stymied but I wasn’t.

I was unashamedly experiencing cynophobia.

I had officially met dogs who were not puppies, but instead, possessed the Mark of The Beast.

We went to a Holiday Inn, which, by the way, did not allow pets.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Bowie Knife

Bowie knife: (n) a long knife with a blade double-edged at the point.

His name was Jim Bowie.Dictionary B

If he lived in your town, you would look at him as the guy who doesn’t have a job–always working a scheme, and you certainly wouldn’t want him dating your sister.

He probably wouldn’t even have made the pages of history had he not ended up in a little mission in San Antonio, Texas, called the Alamo. He arrived there defeated, rejected, running from the law and sick as a dog.

He was known for the big intimidating knife he carried–gaining a reputation by some lethal use.

Jim was with a bunch of other misfits who decided to make a stand in a poorly defended and somewhat meaningless piece of property. History has deemed this to be brave, but if you take a close look, it was just a bunch of macho stupidity. They could easily have fallen back, joined Sam Houston and been part of the victory instead of finding themselves burned up on a mass grave.

Sometimes I don’t know why Americans think that doing “bold maneuvers” is the definition of patriotic manliness. Discretion is not only the better part of valor, but it also enables you to do more things in life … so you’re known for something other than dying and carrying a big, bad-ass knife.


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dictionary with letter A

Armadillo: (n) a nocturnal omnivorous mammal that has large claws for digging and a body covered in bony plates. Armadillos are native to the south central US and Central and South America.

Along with crocodiles and spiders, armadillos clearly remind us that our world is ancient and was once occupied by really scary creatures.

Even though these animals are now much smaller and have a shrunken fear factor, you can certainly comprehend that in their heyday, they must have turned a head or two.

Matter of fact, the first time I saw an armadillo in the middle of the road while driving through Texas, I pulled over and stared at it for a while.

In some ways it looks like a knight in unshining armor. A really ugly knight, mind you.

Rather than seeming to be something natural, the bony plates on the outside of the body look like some kid placed them as a joke on his pet dog and then released the puppy into the wild, and stood behind a cactus and laughed.

The armadillo is also kind of like the pineapple of the animal kingdom. Even though the fruit inside the pineapple is really quite sumptuous, the outside looks like it was constructed by a medieval tinsman.

So it always causes me to reflect on the great debate between creation and evolution.

I will have to admit, if God made all of these creatures at the same time, He certainly had to be on some sort of heavenly acid trip.

And if evolution is completely accurate, it’s difficult to comprehend why the armadillo survived and the stegosaurus ended up in the pits.

So for me, I land somewhere betwixt: envisioning a God who used evolution to create, and a Creator who even to this day, continues to evolve.


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Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A


Alamo: (the Alamo) a mission in San Antonio, Texas, site of a siege in 1836 by Mexican forces in which all 180 defenders were killed.

Reality, think and hope.

These are the three elements that go into telling the story of history. Nowhere is this any more evident than in the tale of the Alamo.

Our great hope is that 180 human souls gave their lives for freedom, making a last-ditch stand against the tyranny of Santa Ana.

We think we understand their motivations–and we also have thoughts that perhaps things could have been handled better so that such a death toll was unnecessary.

Rarely do we arrive at reality.

The truth of the matter is, the “big three” of the Alamo–Travis, Bowie and Crockett–were at the end of their careers and escaped to Texas to start over again–or perhaps, end it all. They had failed relationships, diminishing careers, and a bit of mischief and malfeasance trailing them.

They arrived together in a little mission right between the army of Mexico and an ever-growing infantry of settlers and frontiersmen under the leadership of Sam Houston.

Actually,  it was completely unnecessary to defend the Alamo.

  • We hope that they were buying time for Sam Houston to build up an army to defeat Santa Ana.
  • We think that was on their minds.
  • But in reality, we don’t know.

For after all, when the Alamo was taken over and all occupants killed, Sam Houston intelligently scooted away, avoiding his enemy, until he could choose just the right time–when they were exhausted and he had the best ground.

General Houston finished them off in no time at all, without losing many troops.

So what happened at the Alamo is a typical piece of American history. It had some nobility, some ulterior motives and certainly … a bit of stupidity.



by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abstract: (adj.) existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete reality.

Isn’t that religion?

I mean, I’m not trying to be provocative, but I believe that would actually be the definition of a religious experience–something that exists in thought or in belief, with no actual physical manifestation readily available.

People would object to that characterization. They would say that their particular brand of spirituality was ripe with fruitfulness and examples of prosperity. But there are those who would contradict them by saying that the cases they cite could easily be explained by pointing out the individual’s  talent, perseverance or by what some would view as “dumb luck.”

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

In other words, faith is abstract.

And even though “abstract” is considered to be an insult, especially when we sling it at someone else to explain their reasoning powers or value to us, the removal of the abstract is an attempt to live on a diet of mere practicality–things that can be handled, observed or studied. Believe you me, that kind of intake is very similar to attempting to convince yourself that the Caesar salad you had for lunch is great–and JUST as tasty as partaking of the pizza buffet.

Yes, spirituality is the pizza buffet. It is the intake of emotional and eternal calories which plump up our spirits with joy and hope.

That’s why I make a distinction between spirituality and religion. Religion points out how I’m different from the person kneeling next to me. Spirituality reminds me that I’m part of a much larger earth family.

So in a discussion with anyone about the integrity of atheism or agnosticism over believing in an eternal spirit and Creator of us all, those who share a Father in heaven rather than a mere common ooze will always lose out and be accused of being ignorant and believers in fairy tales.

But amazingly enough, when a bomb blows up in Boston or a fertilizer plant explodes in Texas, nobody ever runs to the library to gain greater knowledge. We turn, instead, to the abstract. We bow down and supplicate. We hope, deep inside ourselves, that life has a greater meaning than the mere passage of hours, days, months and years.

I guess some people would insist that in our hour of need, we become more ignorant. I think we just become more thirsty for the power and the comfort … of the abstract.