By Doug Sanders
Gerald’s Talking Dog loves cherries. That’s all he talks about.
Of course, he doesn’t call them “cherries.” They’re “Bings,” which is his favorite word.
“Bing me,” he says when he wants some cherries in his bowl or a swig of juice. “Bing!” he shouts when he drops his business in the side yard or “Bing yeah!” when he successfully sends a squirrel skittering into the trees out back.
I was mystified at his love for cherries … Bings … from the moment he first trotted in to my brewpub, hopped up on a stool and sat studying the menu. Pork chops I could understand or granola cookies with liver and bacon like the ones they sell at The Pampered Pooch boutique a block up from the pub.
It couldn’t be the taste. And, given what we know about canine eyesight, it couldn’t be the color. His vet tells me he wouldn’t know a Royal Ranier from a Benzie Blue.
As you can imagine, I’ve given this much thought, and I think he simply loves the sound of the word, “Bing.”
“I see you sell a libation with some Bing in it, m’boy,” he said. “I’ll have one of those.”
“A what with what?” I asked.
“That Belgian rye dubbel, the one with the Michigan Bings in it.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him we don’t use Bing cherries to make that brew, but frankly, at that moment, I wasn’t sure of anything. I was talking to a dog, after all, and he was talking back in a gravelly baritone, doing a comically bad impression of Edward G. Robinson.
“First of all, dogs shouldn’t be drinking booze,” I said. “And second of all, I have no idea how old you are. We have laws around here about underage drinking.”
“M’boy,” he said. “I’ve been tossing back suds since Jimmy Carter got his first hammer. Haven’t slowed down yet.”
“And how do you plan to pay for it?” I asked, certain I had him.
“Tell you what,” he said. “I see you have live music in your fine establishment. You put me on for a couple of hot ditties and you’ll have ‘em lined up down the sidewalk all the way to the beach. Guaranteed. Just keep me in Bings and an occasional mug o’froth and I’ll make it worth your while ten times over.”
He had a point.
And that’s how that dog came to stay.
It’s the same repertoire every Saturday night.
He recites William Matthews’ “Homer’s Seeing-Eye Dog,” follows it with Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World,” then brings down the house with, “There was a Farmer Had a Dog.”
When I rub his ears and tell him “good boy” after he skips off the stage to rafter-shaking applause, he always says, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that Bing, m’boy. Now how about an encore mug and a bowl? Care to join me?”
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