Never let anyone tell you that poodles are sissies. Anybody with any experience with the breed can assure you that they are much more than frilly hairdos and painted toenails. They are formidable and can be vicious when it comes to protecting their own, as they are very loyal to anyone in their pack (family). We had two poodles when I was a kid. Not that we up and decided one day to go out and get two poodles. My grandmother bred poodles, and she was very proud of the two male pups she gave us kids for Christmas one year. “Those are ‘Miniature Champagne’ poodles.” She kept saying. Okay. To us they were just two cute little pups that ran my mother crazy until she banished them to the backyard. It’s a dang good thing that my grandmother never came to visit those two Miniature Champagne poodles after she gave them to us, as she would have been appalled. While they ate like kings and had a very nice sturdy doghouse, Dad didn’t hold with any poodle grooming nonsense. “I will not have two sissified looking dogs nancing around the backyard for all the world to see!” End of discussion. I think it was old Mrs. Matau’s standard poodles across the street that gave Dad the heeby jeebies, and I could understand why, considering the way they flounced around with those two big puffs of fur on their behinds. You could tell they were mean by the way they prowled the fenceline, and just looking at them made my blood run cold. Anyway, Daddy wasn’t having any of that at our house. So over time, those two Miniature Champagne poodles began to resemble a pair of shaggy slippers that bigfoot had been prowling around in the woods in. When they were groomed, which was two or three times a year, they were shaved plumb naked, and some of the things that were found in the matted fur that they had been toting around with them defied logic. Sucker sticks, barrettes, (my little sister Dianne’s work, no doubt) assorted foliages, and on one occasion that I am aware of, a brand new black Crayola crayon that still had the factory tip. Mom was always relieved after they were groomed. “Don’t you just know that they feel so much better?” She would say with a sigh. “Yeah? Then why are they hiding behind the bushes?” Daddy would ask. Anyway, ugly or not, shaggy or nude, they were voracious little yard dogs. We always suspected that they would kill for any one of us, but we had no idea what they were capable of until they attacked Donald Streck. Donald was my brother’s best friend from sixth grade through high school graduation. They were like Laurel and Hardy, my brother being the stick figure of the two. Donald had permanently pink cheeks, a perpetual sheen of sweat on his forehead, summer and winter alike, and a grip like a vice. There was nothing he liked to do better than wrestle, and oddly enough, despite the weight difference, he and my brother were nicely matched, as where Donald was heavy and strong, my brother was wily and rubbery and could slither out of almost any hold like a snake. One summer afternoon found all four of us kids and Donald lazing about the back porch, the two bigfoot slippers panting in the shade nearby. “Let’s ‘rassle.” Donald suggested. “Nuh uh. Not back here.” Larry replied. “Why not?” “Cuz those two dogs over there will eat your lunch if you lay a hand on me. They don’t know it’s for fun.” Donald snorted, and we all looked at each other. “Yeah, right.” He said, after a glance at the two matted balls of fluff. “I really think they will.” Larry insisted, and we all looked at each other again. Like I said before, we suspected that they would kill for us, but since nobody had any real proof, now was as good a time as any to test the theory. “Well...I don’t!” Donald said quickly, and before anybody could stop him, he had Larry in a headlock. Nobody remembers actually seeing the dogs move. All anybody remembers is Donald’s shrill shrieking, a startling amount of blood, and Mom beating the dogs off of Donald with her broom. “I told you!” Larry yelled, clearly trying not to feel bad about the fact that Donald appeared to be trying to paste his right ear back onto the side of his head. Mom cleaned him up and drizzled some monkey blood (Mercurochrome) on his cuts and scratches and sent him home. We never heard from his mother. There was no ten day quarantine for rabies, no sheriff appeared at the door. This was the seventies, such things were unheard of. Besides, Donald had been duly warned. So if anyone ever tries to tell you that poodles can’t hold their own in the gnash and tear department, don’t you believe them. Even if they do look like bigfoot slippers.