For Thanksgiving that year, the family had decided to hold the event at my mother's house (the ancestral Mahoney estate), even though it was Dad's turn to host. Mom, who was in Florida, gave her blessing, so off we went. Our little domestic unit—Lee Anne, Shazam, and I—drove down to Queens early. Lee Anne and I spent the day preparing dinner with family while Shazam got acquainted with Mom's new dog, Clancy.
Lee Anne, always wiser than me, suggested we keep close watch on the dogs, as Shazam had never met a canine he didn't want to make a beta, regardless of its size. (Shazam had also put a number of notches in his collar for his ruthless takedowns of small mammals; and frankly, some were not that small.) Everything was going fineish—Shazam was putting up with Clancy's aggressive puppy bonhomie, which involved following him around the house and licking his face and inciting Shazam to chase him—until it wasn't going fine at all.
After a couple hours of harassment, Shazam wheeled around and snapped at Clancy. (In Shazam's defense, I believe it was in warning. Others are not so sure. History will be the judge.) Clancy, sensibly trying to avoid a nip on the nose, whipped his head to the side, sending his ear across Shazam's angle of attack, a hairy black crêpe sailing Frisbee-like between Shazam's jaws. Coincidentally, I had recently begun training Shazam to chase and catch Frisbees, though I don't believe the outcome would have been different if the dog had never seen a flying crêpe-like object before.
A few words on Clancy before I get to the, er, meat of the tale. My mother adopted Clancy a few months after her previous dog, Hershey, a chocolate Lab, had died. She trotted out to North Shore Animal League and picked up a puppy that looked like a Lab mix, albeit with XL paws and a slightly squared-off head—perhaps a little Boxer or Pit thrown in there. When Mom went to the pet supply store for a crate, the owner looked at the dog, laughed, and said, "The paws lead me to believe he's a Great Dane. You're gonna need the biggest crate I got." Thus began the saga of Clancy, the-ever-expanding puppy. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, Clancy was 90 pounds of affectionate rambunctiousness, ready to lick the epidermis right off any exposed skin—or hump you, if you were my brother Conor.
Back to the story: The hairy black crêpe landed in Shazam's mouth, Clancy's ear was punctured, and all hell broke loose. I jumped in to restrain Shazam and Clancy galumphed off, jumping on all the furniture in the living room, three siblings chasing him, pumping blood like a water main burst in his ear and shooting it on the white-painted walls—the effect looking as if the house was being styled for a Target commercial.
Once the dog was "under control," we tried to stop the bleeding. We left this to our cousin Sean, who had studied organic chemistry in college, which we all agreed conferred something akin to medical authority on him. But the bleeding just wouldn't stop, and we ended up taking Clancy to the emergency vet, who stitched up the ear but made no promises that his work would hold, as ears are notoriously hard to sew. We went back to the house, me $800 poorer, Clancy locked in the cone of shame.
As my mother wasn't due back for another three days, I was tasked with watching Clancy over the holiday weekend. Our little domestic unit drove back Upstate with one additional passenger, Shazam in the back seat beside a massive dog with the bulging eyes of a mad king in a ruffed Elizabthen plastic collar. I promptly came down with a high fever and spent the weekend laying on the couch as the dogs chased each other around the ground floor of my house, Clancy scraping the paint of the walls as he ran by. As soon as Mom was wheels down at JFK, I threw Clancy in the car and drove to Queens in a feverish blur.
Fast forward four-and-a-half years, May 2018. My mother has just died. My siblings and I are trying to figure out what to do with Clancy. None of them have dogs, nor want a dog. I'd love to take home this adorable palooka, but Lee Anne is against it, given the history of the Thanksgiving Day Massacre. Both Lee Anne and I can envision a scenario in which we go out one day, leaving the dogs home alone, and return to find the furniture in splinters and Clancy's body bent and broken while Shazam calmly sits in a corner, every inch the stone-cold killer, giving us a look that says: I told you not to bring that dog into this house.
But as there seem to be no other options available, I convince Lee Anne that we should "foster" the dog while we try and find Clancy a new home. Lee Anne makes me promise to post an appeal on Facebook. I do that, cute photo and all. I get a number of responses from people asking me what breed Clancy is. I write that he's a Lab mix and get a flurry of responses, with links to photos, offering evidence that Clancy is in fact a Cane Corso—an Italian mastiff. And knowing what an Italian mastiff looks like (thanks to the photos), it's hard to deny it.
I also get a few people who are serious about meeting Clancy. I put them off for a week while I let Clancy work his magic on Lee Anne, who succumbs to his slobbery charms soon enough. As for Shazam, well, let's just say he tolerates Clancy and lets him know when he's had enough. (Use your barks, Shazam.)
Clancy now has a forever home. Here's another thing I found out recently about Clancy the Cane Corso—Shazam likes to ride in the back, like he's being chauffeured, but Clancy prefers to ride shotgun. Dog is my copilot.