… on the stigma of canine mental illness


Marshal Dillon Dingle looking all sorts of confident. It’s a front.

We Dingles have a family secret.

It’s one of those things that we don’t talk about.

A skeleton in the closet, blight on the family name kind of thing.

I’ve told the family that we need to keep a lid on what we’re dealing with because the one we’re talking about is young. We don’t want to have any sort of diagnosis affecting his social standing or his ability to get a job later on down the road.

Plus, one day he might want to run for office.

Marshal Dillon Dingle may have some sort of personality disorder.

I should explain.

I have been researching all morning, and I don’t think his issues are genetic or chemical. It could be that this is a result of trauma experienced in his early childhood. And now that he’s, like, 16 months old – and according to pets.webmd.com, he is the equivalent of 18 years old in humans – some of these issues are now bubbling to the surface.

Plus, I guess he can now vote.

And register for the draft.

I need to get on that.

Anyway, I think I know exactly which incident from his early childhood is causing his behavior as of late. It’s one he doesn’t like to talk about. Usually when I bring it up he acts like he doesn’t even remember. But I understand. He’s a big, tough German Shepherd after all.  So I’m trusting you not to spread what I’m about to tell you all over town. It would ruin him.

When Marshal Dillon Dingle was about four months old, and we were at the vets office to get his booster shots, we were … oh, this is so hard to admit … we were in the waiting room and I wasn’t paying attention. There was a big fish tank in the office and there was a puffer fish like the one in Finding Nemo and I was watching the fish and – I totally admit it – hoping that the fish would get scared and puff.

Marshal Dillon Dingle wandered to the end of his leash (He was young, and I hadn’t had the talk with him about wandering off on his own). Sure enough, the one time I’m paying attention to a puffer fish, something happened.

Out of the shadows, another dog appeared.

A stranger.

Oh sure, he seemed innocent enough, so Marshal inched closer.

The stranger seemed enticing, and probably lured Marshal with promises of liver treats or some sob story that he had lost his boy and needed Marshal’s help to find him. And then it happened. In that vet’s office, when he was a mere 16 weeks old, Marshal Dillon Dingle got rolled.

By a puggle.


A puggle puppy.

Do you know how small a puggle puppy is?

It didn’t matter. Marshal Dillon Dingle, who had aspirations of being a big, tough German Shepherd Dog, was being mugged by a wiggly puggle puppy who clearly didn’t know his own strength.

Marshal was turned upside down and, when he got up, he bristled and roared his terrible puppy roar, and gnashed his terrible puppy teeth, and rolled his terrible puppy eyes, and showed his terrible puppy claws.  He also tried to tame the puggle puppy with the magic trick of staring into his yellow eyes without blinking once. There was also a boat, and some sailing in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him and it was still hot.

Did that sound familiar to you?

Me too.



Marshal Dillon Dingle at four months. Post trauma.

Anyway, then Max …er… Marshal Dillon Dingle had barely collected himself after being rolled by that puggle when he had to get his booster shots. And all seemed perfectly fine as he accepted his peanut butter puppy treat (the equivalent of a lollipop and Sponge Bob sticker at the pediatrician’s office) and we paid and headed outside.

And little Marshal Dillon Dingle absolutely exploded at another dog in the parking lot. He had never reacted that way to another dog in his life, before being rolled by the puggle.

Except this dog was a statue.

To this day, Marshal Dillon Dingle hates statues. All statues. All sizes. The actual species represented by the statue makes no difference.

I think, psychologically speaking, this is called ‘transference’.

And I think this is a good and healthy strategy because when he acts all crazy and threatening to other dogs, they actually growl and knock Marshal over and step on him because Marshal Dillon Dingle – even puffed up like a puffer fish (love those!) – is actually a very small German Shepherd Dog, and extremely easy to overpower.

Plus he is kind of a wHimp on the inside (yes, I know ‘wimp’ doesn’t have an ‘h’ in it, but we add those willy-nilly in the Dingle family, per Stewie in Family Guy).

So, I’m sure you can imagine, if he does choose to run for political office at some point, the statue thing might be a problem.

Think about it.

He’s visiting a local gun shop somewhere in Polk County, Iowa to get a temporary hunting license (because he wants to appeal to the hunting constituency. Marshal Dillon Dingle rarely hunts using guns or bows (it’s a thumb thing) but politicians get hunting licenses to appear all outdoorsy all the time). Oh, by the way, in Polk County you have to use non-toxic shot in your shotguns when you hunt. Except if you are hunting deer or turkey, then you can use lead shot. I’m guessing that research must have shown that children under the age of six (who, according to the Mayo Clinic, are the most susceptible to lead poisoning) don’t eat much turkey or venison in Polk County, Iowa.


Imagine if Marshal Dillon Dingle runs for office and has to answer the mental health questions on some hunting license application somewhere. He either has to lie or write down that he suffers from statue-oriented transference due to his puggle-rolling induced personality disorder.

As I said before, it could ruin him.

So I appreciate that you will keep what I’ve just written to yourself. This is just a little blog. I don’t think a political operative will think of looking here if Marshal ever decides to make a run at President.  And even the NSA wouldn’t look here for any information or threats. I mean, aside from the term President, and Presidential candidate … okay, and maybe NSA… it’s not like I’ve used any other terms that would raise attention in this post, right?  I mean, if I was writing about homeland security, al qaeda, extremists, and international shipping, sure. But nothing I wrote about here would cause an issue.

Oh, hey. I gotta go. I just saw a black Suburban drive up the driveway.

There’s a nice man in sunglasses at the door.

Thanks for readin’.

As always, you can come on over to Just Ponderin’s facebook page to comment or just hang out.

*Where the Wild Things are, people. Where the Wild Things Are.