A couple of weeks ago, I had the worst head cold imaginable. I went to the doctor but, instead of the cold virus he thought I had, my symptoms most closely matched those of a disease currently ravaging the Tasmanian devil, a meat eater that lives in Tasmania. I asked my wife if she thought I was on to something.
She wanted to know if this was going to be another lecture on the legendary Tasmanian tiger tracker. I told her that this was about the Tasmanian devil-not the tiger-and also how sick I was.
Back in the ’60s, a friend of mine in Appleton acquired a dog that he believed was a rarely seen Tasmanian tiger tracker. Despite expert, non-Irish analysis attesting that the dog was really an Australian riverine rabbit runner, Bud Larimer persisted in calling it a tiger tracker. My wife thinks it is all blarney.
“I suppose the old Irishman invented a hound for the Tasmanian devil, too,” she said, and I realized she had been paying attention.
“Each must have his adversary,” I sermonized, “and, although I never heard Bud discuss a Tasmanian devil hunting hound, I’m guessing it must have been a canine dissembler.”
“Really,” she said, clearly astounded, and then added the words I was looking for, “and what do they do.”
“Dissemblers are like pointers that lie a lot,” I garrulously droned, “equal to a canine four flusher. Dissemblers have the looks and habits of their prey. Tasmanian devil dissemblers undoubtedly have large rounded ears, a tan colored hide, and hop more than run.”
“And how did you come by this knowledge?” she asked while grabbing a thermometer to check my temperature.
“Aristotelian science,” I said, using my whiny, head cold voice, “forces us to conclude the obvious that that which hunts the wallaby-hunter must somehow look like and act like a wallaby.”
“So, your Aristotle-ness, what must a dog that hunts Hodags look like?” she asked as she cornered me to put the thermometer in my mouth, but I knew that, once she accepted Aristotle’s Irish way of thinking, I could sell her anything.
“Unlike moth dogth,” I pontificated with the thermometer under my tongue, “if moth hath a weak thanes of the-mall, be-couth if prey the-malls like bad Thüringen. If would north hunt Hoffnung be-couth Hoffnung are though big. Instead,” I said spitting out the thermometer, “it would beguile or delude the Hodags.”
“Nobody’s deluding me,” she said while reading the thermometer, but I started thinking I could even sell her junk bonds.
So I jabbered on: “The dog was undoubtedly bred to dupe or to gull a Hodag into surrendering peacefully, so breeders probably used those words to describe the dog.”
“Gull?” she puzzled.
“Yes, the word comes from what seagulls do that causes me to voluntarily give them all my French fries when we are outside McDonald’s eating lunch-it makes me mad just thinking about it.”
I added that the dog would also have tall, white, pointed ears and at least one-and and perhaps two-long, white wattles hanging down from each jowl. These white doodads would fool the Hodag into thinking he was encountering one of his own, with their long, friendly white teeth.
“OK,” she said, “what’s the dog called-a Hodag duping deluder?”
“Naturally the dog would be called a Hodag gulling beguiler.”
“You know what I think,” she said, as I thought how much money I could have made if I only had some junk bonds to sell her, “I think you’re the one with the wattles, and you’re full of blarney. I’m calling the doctor to say that your medicine is not strong enough.”
Rhinelander District Library Director Ed Hughes is available at (715) 365-1070.