I now know EXACTLY what it’s like to be a mule-skinner, driving a team of 20 mean, ornery mules.
Cracking the reins.
Spitting tobacco juice down your shirt.
Yep, I know EXACTLY what it’s like to be a mule-skinner.
At least one who has two small dogs playing the parts of 20 mean and ornery mules.
We are again baby-sitting Mayo.
A bichon. Who is white.
Hence the name “Mayo”.
Don’t blame me.
I didn’t name him.
The Mayo Mule is half again as big as the uber cute but timid Crack Puppy Mule.
So getting them to work as a mule-team was not easy.
Which reminds me of the joke about the farmer selling the mule and a hammer as a package deal.
“The mule can do anything. But, first, you have to get his attention.”
Okay, you PETA dipsticks, we did not use a hammer on the Crack Puppy Mule Team.
We used a taser, and it worked like a charm.
OK, the truth.
They worked as a team from the moment I put them both on a leash.
There they were, prancing down the street.
I could not have been more surprised.
OK, I admit it.
If this team were pulling something?
It would most likely be a little surrey with the fringe on top.
Not a huge wooden wagon filled with rifles and ammo and salt pork.
Because if these two tiny mules were hitched up to a John Wayne-ish wagon?
We would be going nowhere soon.
For the first half of our first walk, the Crack Puppy/Mayo mule-team were perfect.
When we passed a cat?
We pranced on by.
When we passed ducklings and children?
Not a problem. Still prancing.
But after about a mile which, to a mini-mule with two-inch-long legs is like 100 miles, the Crack Puppy mules began to play up.
Mayo would dive head-first into the tall grass when he got a really good smell that he needed to mule whiz on.
The Ling Ling Mule would look at the mule-skinner as if to say, “mules do NOT hike their legs, so what’s with that?”
Then the Ling Ling Mule got distracted and started doing what she does when she is walked alone — a constant zig-zag.
With numerous unscheduled and unsignalled panic stops.
At least one of which ends in the cutest little poop you ever saw.
But, being a highly skilled mule-skinner, who has watched every John Wayne movie ever made, at least twice, I soon had the mule team back in line.
“Heeyah mule. Step on. Heeyah mule. Pull ahead. Heh-yup…”
They like it when you talk to them like that.
The neighbors did not.
But what would New Zealanders know about mule-trains and John Wayne?
So all was well until we came upon the 5-month-old puppy who we have seen several times on previous walks.
This puppy appears to be made of fluff and coiled springs.
It is the bounciest, happiest, I-wanna-playingist puppy you will ever see.
Mules Do Not Bounce
I learned that mules do not like springy, bouncy puppies.
At least Ling Ling Mules do not.
Which explains why she zigged when the Spring Puppy and Mayo Mule zagged.
And why we ended up with the leashes braided, lassoing the team of mule-ish Crack Puppies.
Who, as you might guess, had stopped moving in unison.
They were moving more like whirling dervishes around the mule-skinner and the lady who owns the puppy made of springs and fluff.
After some time, we were able to untangle the team and get back on our way.
But by then the discipline had gone.
It was every mule for himself.
The Ling Ling Mule dragged behind as the Mayo Mule pulled ahead like a fiend.
The sheer power ripped the Mule-skinner’s arms right out of their sockets, such was the strength of the Crack Puppy Mules.
OK, it didn’t hurt even a little.
They are not big mules.
Haven’t you been listening?
But it was annoying.
And it got worse when the Ling Ling Mule ran out of gas.
It is embarrassing when a mule-skinner has to carry one of his panting, exhausted mules.
But I am confident this team of Crack Puppy Mules will be champion pullers.
And as long as I bring along the hammer.
To get their attention.