Sharing Stories

April with an earlier dog.

April Ryan is a Seattle/Edmonds writer who is accepting writing challenges for Sharing Stories. A shaggy dog story or yarn is an extremely long-winded anecdote characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax or a pointless punchline. Shaggy dog stories play upon the audience's preconceptions of joke-telling. Note that April’s punchline is NOT pointless.


We bought our Australian Silky Terrier one fine day the end of November 1999. Exclaiming she was an irresistible ball of fur, I was immediately corrected by the breeder. “Her coat is hair—not fur. She is a rare hypoallergenic breed.” Plus, in a hoity-toity tone that was close to exasperation, we were informed her glorious locks wouldn’t shed all over the house and furniture. The matter-of-fact statement all but said, “You are too dimwitted to be ‘Silky’ owners!” As we laid down a royal flush of hundred-dollar bills, we were praised for our excellent choice in picking the most playful female in the litter. We drove away with the dog of our dreams.

Hours and days passed before we picked the perfect name, Sydney. Her ears were formed like the shell-shaped Australian opera house, giving her the super power to hear a piece of cheese drop to the floor.

Unfortunately, we brought her home during the rainy season. A quick dash outside on her leash to “take care of business” turned into a marathon of slow motion time, and fast plunging raindrops beat endless notes on the umbrella. Spring was a welcome relief. Our yard was small, perfect for planting daisies, tulips, and daffodils, with a postage-stamp sized lawn taking ten minutes to mow. As Sydney grew, she needed more space, so of course, we bought a house with a big fenced yard for her frisky energy.

Her “hairy” coat got so long and shaggy, she looked like a mop walking on the floor.

A high-pitched bark greeted me at the door after work. We sang duets as I changed out of my bus driving uniform into casual comfort. Oh, it was a top-forty ritual as she barked, and I barked back my favorite tunes. One fine hot and sweaty summer day, the fans were spinning, the windows opened, and I was barking a duet with Sydney. As I pulled up my Bermuda shorts, the front bell rang. I opened the door. Our neighbor was out of breath—gasping, he asked if everything was all right. When I answered, “Yes,” he asked, “Are you sure?” I nodded yes.

When he walked away, it dawned on me, he’d heard our duet. I called out, “You heard me and the dog barking. We’re really okay.” The next day when he was in his yard, I thanked him for his concern, and we laughed at the barking duet. At the end of our conversation, he said, “If I think you need me, I’ll be at your front door checking up on you.” Our duets became a whispered routine of barks and giggles. No more false alarms for the neighbor.

Editor's Picks