A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 167

The case for compulsory dog houses

He's the toast of north Strafford County. He's the Man who ran the Town Hall out of Dog Tags. He's John Fitch, Animal Control Officer extraordinaire.

Yup, champagne corks were popping all over Farmington last week when news hit the street that Fitchy, single-handedly and with no violence so far, had achieved the impossible - he panicked an all-time record number of citizens into the Tax Collector's office to license their dogs. So many, in fact, that Cathy and Edna's entire stock of dog tags - all 528 of 'em - were wiped out.

Happy times, indeed. Revenue to the town for licenses now exceeds $3,000. Then there are all the $25 fines from those absent-minded or delinquent citizens whose unofficial dogs barked when Mr. F. knocked on their door. And, yes, there is also the simple glow of satisfaction that comes from knowing that the Animal Control Department is humming efficiently.

On the other hand, if you are Edna, there is the trauma of facing people who stamp into Town Hall snorting fire and waving a dog fine notice. There is the irritation of having to order more dog tags from a guy who has just gone on holiday to Hawaii and won't be back for three weeks.

And there is the job of calming down all those ladies and gentlemen who demand "Whaddyameanyaain'tgotnomoredogtags? Howcomeyabeenaggravatingpeoplethen?"

Also, dare one breathe it, there is the fact that despite all this sterling detective work, running up and down garden paths and scanning back yards with binoculars and state-of-the-art listening devices - one good old property tax produces just as much revenue for the town.

But, this could change with my revolutionary fundraising plan: Compulsory Dog Houses. CDHs, as I like to call them, would be mandated for all Farmington dogs over the age of three weeks, and these buildings would be taxed twice per year just like any other property. They would be valued somewhere between an outhouse and a barn depending on their amenities - food dish, old carpet, etc. - and, as such, would give Farmington a much-needed injection of private dollars into the public coffer.

A beneficial spin-off from this proposal will be the construction of 1,400 doghouses, which will give the flagging carpentry industry a welcome shot in the arm. Used stoves and freezers will not qualify as canine shelters.

If you have an opinion to express about compulsory doghouses, save time and relay your comments directly to Edna when you pay your dog fines. Thank you.

Collectors Items II

More than just dog tags are collectors items in Farmington. Gardener-of-the-Month Pat Benoit has collected 1,756 signatures from all over north Strafford County insisting that the U.S. Congress passes legislation compelling tuna fish canneries to state whether their product is "dolphin safe" or "dolphin unsafe." Each year countless thousands of dolphins are caught and killed in nets by tuna fishermen without as much as an "Ooops!" Labeling cans would give the public the opportuntity to buy tuna that has not resulted in dolphin deaths.

Benoit has sent her petition to Congresswoman Barbara Boxer of California who is introducing the bill to the U.S. House on July 19. It is not known where local right-wing Republican Congressman Bob Smith stands on dolphins. Sea World, Florida, perhaps?

Dolphins not coming

Rumor ran wild in town the other day, after Pat was spotted on the South Main Street bridge, notebook and pencil in hand. It was suggested by old Ramgunshoch that she was taking fathom readings to ascertain the viability of bringing dolphins up the Cocheco to a safe freshwater haven, but this conjecture has proved wide of the mark. Pat, it turns out, is determined to spruce up the bridge itself, which hosts some sort of grubby pipe as well as the obligatory weeds and sand.

Sorry Mrs. B., but Farmington Corner is adamantly against its beautification, for a jolly good reason. As the sworn defender of Royce's Stoves and Freezers Inc. the column feels that giving the bridge a facelift with flowers and paint would just put too much pressure on the second-hand electrical appliances nearby. They never got a word of criticism when Mooney's Mill was around to take the heat from the Bash Ugliness Brigade (BUB). Since the mill was burned down that ugly bridge has become Royce's last southerly line of defense. Hands off.

Anyway, Pat, you are going to need every ounce of energy to tackle your next Herculean task - a New Hampshire Bottle Bill. Then there's always the Winter Carnival...

Good wholesome news

Farmington Business Association, one of the names attached to a letter of mild reproof to none other than Pat Benoit, is sponsoring Memorial Bridge (no grubby pipe) All Stars Band in Fernald Park on July 28 from 7-8:30 p.m. Free! All dogs should be accompanied by a current dog license.

Mudding news

The Puddledock Press is having a fund-raising car wash at Main Street School (outside) on July 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost per vehicle is $2 unless mud removal requires the use of an acetylene torch - Mr. Crowbar Tufts please note.

July 16, 1990

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