Pubdate: Thu, 28 May 2015 Source: Packet & Times (CN ON) Copyright: 2015 Orillia Packet and Times Contact: http://www.orilliapacket.com/letters Website: http://www.orilliapacket.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2397 Author: Jim Slotek Page: C4 LEARNING SOME NEW TRICKS On Sunday, May 24, a hero of my misspent youth, Tommy Chong of Cheech & Chong, will be 77 years old. Coincidentally, on the same day, my dog Otis will turn 12, about 77 in dog years. And I have a story that connects them both. Scenario 1: Otis is a wheaten terrier, emphasis on terrier. In his youth, he was a championship-calibre Frisbee dog. He was also a decent fielder in baseball - which is to say, when my boys and I would play pitch 'n' hit in the field, he'd eagerly wait for a hit ball to get by, race to get it and happily bring it back to the pitcher (me). A TTC employee once watched us and said, "You guys suck, but I'd sign the dog." Though he's a pretty chill old guy now, i n his life, Otis has fought raccoons and pit bulls (I have the vet bills to show for it) and narrowly missed an expensive and painful contretemps with a porcupine (I grabbed him by the collar and threw him barking into the cottage as soon as I saw the fat, quilled varmint waddling toward us). He has also been skunked twice - t he second occasion being relevant here. Sc e nari o 2 : In 2006, the Toronto International Film Festival played host to the documentary a/k/a Tommy Chong, a chronicle of the U.S. justice system's $12-million campaign to put Chong in jail for using the mail to distribute "Chong bongs" to fans (an amount in the same neighbourhood as the bounty on Saddam Hussein). Reportedly the prosecution was being overseen all the way to Washington, where then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was drooling over the idea of refighting the Culture Wars and finally putting Cheech & Chong (or half of them, anyway) behind bars. Just released from j ai l , Chong was an attendee at TIFF, giving interviews promoting his story. There was to be a party at a westend club celebrating him, and my wife Bianca landed a job catering it. Back at the house, she had all the food loaded in our van and the clock was ticking when she heard a commotion from the back yard, where my older son discovered - or rather smelled - the aftermath of Otis's latest skunk encounter In a rush, Bianca grabbed the dog and tossed him in the house with our sons - who weren't thrilled with being in an enclosed space with a tail-wagging stink bomb. She then headed to the party venue, realizing to her horror that she was now skunked too (although happily, the food wasn't). This being my busiest week of the year, I'd missed the excitement at home. I had various places to be and things to cover before ending my night at the Tommy Chong party, which started at midnight. An underground-ish affair, you were met at the door by servers offering brownies. Any confusion as to the nature of the confection was dispelled by the advice, "Help yourself. But we're telling everybody, more than three and you're on your own." Inside, the guest of honour held court at a VIP table where the centerpiece was a bud the size of a palm frond. The objective seemed to be to whittle it down incrementally by smoking it in Magic Marker-sized joints. I suppose on t he pot-head's bucket list, toking with Tommy Chong would be right up there with smoking Indo with Snoop. And there was Bianca, flustered and dying to bring me up to speed on our dog's latest ill-considered encounter with wildlife. She was still concerned with how she smelled, but I had to get right up close to even slightly differentiate the odour of skunk from the odour of skunkweed. As it turns out, we were at the only party in the city where a skunked person could go and nobody would notice. So to anybody who was at that party, that smell in the air might have been Tommy Chong's special blend. Or it might have been Otis. Otis is still wagging his tail and alerting me to the approach of friends' cars. He'll still make a game attempt at chasing squirrels. And Tommy? He and his dance partner Peta Murgatroyd made it to the semi-finals of Dancing With the Stars last year. As he told Rolling Stone recently, "The government always used to say, 'We don't know the real effects of marijuana. We've never been able to test it.' Well, I've been testing it for over 50 years. I came in fifth on Dancing With the Stars at 76." So happy birthday to my two favourite old dogs. May you continue to learn new tricks.