Pubdate: Sat, 23 May 2015
Source: Intelligencer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015, The Belleville Intelligencer
Author: Jim Slotek
Page: C7


On the occasion of Tommy Chong and his dog Otis' birthday, our own 
Jim Slotek wishes a couple of old dogs good tidings

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, in 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 - the second occasion being relevant here.

Scenario 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 jail, 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 stinkbomb. 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 the 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.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom