me alone, I'm dead
by Mad Dog
once they do move him all you’ll see is a stone monument, some
nicely kept grass, and flowers left daily by Moose, the dog on Frasier.
How boring. If only they’d taken a tip from Roy Rogers and had him
Death is supposed to be a time of permanent rest, a chance to be
left alone, to chill out, to never have to see Regis’ face on TV
again. In other words, heaven. But like the opposite sex, the tax
code, and why a one-way plane ticket can cost more than round-trip,
it’s just not that simple. Even when you’re dead no one wants to
let you be.
Take poor Checkers, Richard
Nixon’s dog. It wasn’t bad enough they scarred him for life by
not giving him a more intellectual name like Chess or a hip one like
Backgammon, now Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Nixon’s daughter, wants to
move his remains from a pet cemetery on Long Island to the Nixon
Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, CA. Right, like anyone will
want to check out a dead dog’s bones and take them to the beach
for light summer reading while Danielle Steel’s still alive and
Checkers’ claim to fame
is that he was the centerpiece of a speech Nixon gave in 1952 in
which he admitted to having accepted the dog as a present, his
defense being that he thought the guy said dough, not dog. This
ploy—the speech, not the gift of a dog—helped save Nixon’s
career and paved the way for an escalated war in Vietnam, Watergate,
and the national embarrassment of his resignation. This is in turn
launched Chevy Chase into the limelight when he imitated the new
president, Gerald Ford, on Saturday Night Live, ultimately
going on to have the shortest running late night talk show in
history. All because Nixon accepted a gift.
Anyone who saw
Poltergeist knows what can happen when you mess with a
grave. Would you want the ghost of Richard Nixon’s dog running
around your house at night telling you to get out?
Thus it’s only right that Chevy Chase’s bones be moved to
the Nixon presidential library, but since he’s still alive,
Checkers’ will have to do. Unfortunately once they do move him all
you’ll see is a stone monument, some nicely kept grass, and
flowers left daily by Moose, the dog on Frasier. How boring.
If only they’d taken a tip from Roy Rogers and had him stuffed.
Roy was into stuffing
things, or mounting them as they insist on saying at the Roy
Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, CA. The place is filled
with stuffed birds, stuffed wild animals, and stuffed Trigger.
That’s right. When his trusty steed died, Roy had him stuffed and
put on display. Trigger, whose real name was Golden Cloud—making
him one of the first stars to not only change his name, but to go by
one name, is there in all his glory, rearing up on his hind legs
just like we fondly remember him. He’s not alone either. Dale’s
horse Buttermilk, Trigger, Jr., and Bullet the Wonder Dog—who no
one’s ever heard of—are also stuffed and on display.
The disappointing thing is
that Roy isn’t. A number of years ago when he was at the opening
of one of his namesake restaurants introducing the new Trigger
Burger™ he said, “When I die I hope they skin me out and put me
up on Trigger.” Just kidding. Actually there was no Trigger Burger™.
But that’s only because they hadn’t thought of it. Roy did say
that though, so you can imagine my disappointment when I went to
Roy’s museum and Trigger’s saddle was empty.
The Nixon family should
think twice about moving Checkers’ remains. Not just because the
chances of their putting his articulated skeleton on display are
about as good as there being a Michael Stipe, Jr., but because
anyone who saw Poltergeist knows what can happen when
you mess with a grave. Would you want the ghost of Richard Nixon’s
dog running around your house at night telling you to get out?
we don’t have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore doesn’t mean
we should take it out on his dog.
The move would have been a whole lot easier had they cremated
Checkers in the first place. After all, it would be a total non-news
event if they tossed his ashes in a FedEx envelope and shipped them
to California. That’s assuming, of course, that they still had the
ashes, or cremains as they’re called these days.
The word cremains wasn’t
developed, as you might expect, so funeral directors could feel a
little more refined when they talk to the bereaved, but rather
because calling them ashes makes people think of cleaning out the
fireplace, smoking a cigarette, and falling down while playing
Ring-Around-The-Rosie, wondering the whole time what the hell the
lyrics to that song mean anyway. Cremains, unfortunately, does sound
like a new brand of dinner helper.
“Mom, can we have Tuna
Cremains for dinner tonight?”
“Now, now, Sally. You
know grandpa doesn’t go well with fish.
People do interesting
things with cremains. They have them made into granite-like stone
tablets which they put on the mantle like dog heirloom Rosetta
Stones. They have them stuffed into fireworks shells so they and
their loved one can have a final blast together. They have them made
into artificial reefs, shot into space like Star Trek’s creator
Gene Roddenberry, and if you’re a comic book artist like Mark
Gruenwald, have them mixed with printing ink for a special edition
on the other hand, will spend his eternity in the ground next to
Dick and Pat. This is a sorry fate for a dog which, for a while, was
more famous than Lassie, Benji, and Beethoven. The dog, not the
composer. He deserves better. He deserves to be left right where he
is. Just because we don’t have Richard Nixon to kick around
anymore doesn’t mean we should take it out on his dog.
Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them. Unless you're stuffed.