Pubdate: Sun, 24 May 2015
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2015 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Jim Slotek


On the occasion of and his dog 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

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 west end
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

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 odor of skunk from the odor 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: Matt