Mason County News
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Yo Quiero Willie
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 • Posted July 29, 2009

During the late 1990s you could hardly turn on a television set without seeing a Taco Bell ad. All these commercials featured an irritating little Chihuahua who claimed, “Yo quiero Taco Bell.” Which may or may not have been true. The dog, a female named Gidget, may have just been in it for the kibble. You know how those actors are.

But Gidget isn’t in it anymore. She died last week of a stroke at age 15, which, in dog years, made her even older than John Belushi, who also died at one point in his career. Belushi, at another point in his career, said, “Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? No!” That has nothing to do with Chihuahuas or Taco Bell, but there you go.

Anyway, although Gidget is gone, Chihuahuas are still making headlines, which is somewhat surprising, considering you can hardly find anyone who will admit to liking them. Sort of like people who voted for Michael Dukakis.

Take, for example, the following example: Hughie Wagers, of London, Kentucky, has a 12-week-old Chihuahua pup named Smokey. On 4 July the Wagers family had some friends over for the traditional Kentucky Independence Day Barbeque and Spelling Bee. Hughie’s sister was cleaning up afterward, raking some leftover scraps of meat to the dogs (you have to have dogs at these things). She was trying to shoo the bigger dogs away with a two-tined meat fork when Smokey showed up.

The fork came apart and one of the tines buried itself in the top of Smokey’s head, about three inches deep.

Actually, Hughie tells it better than I do. He appeared later on the TODAY show, and was quoted thusly: “My sister was raking off food for the bigger dogs. She was raking it off a plate to ‘em. Smokey, he came out of the house. She was shooing the big dogs off. She had the fork in her hand, and somehow, it just popped right off the handle, and she looked around and it hit Smokey in the head. And when it hit him, he run off.”

Which raises the obvious question – WHEN will the Surgeon General require ALL meat forks to be stamped with a WARNING that it is not to be used to SHOO dogs AWAY with? At the time of this writing the Surgeon General was unavailable for comment.

Smokey was gone for two days, but he finally showed back up, and he still had the fork in his head. At this point we return to Hughie’s narrative. “I got him and took him in the house. They didn’t know what to do with him, so I thought may as well take him to Cumberland Valley Animal Hospital.” May as well.

The veterinarian removed the fork from Smokey’s head, and he’s doing fine, except for a tendency to walk around in circles. He may get over it, or he may decide to run for congress. Only time will tell.

And then, as if we weren’t already sick to death of stuff about dogs, another recent TODAY show episode featured a 66-year-old Wheaton terrier named Mandy, who belongs to 45-pound David Grounds, of West Palm Beach, Florida. Something about that last sentence doesn’t seem right, but I can’t put my finger on it.

Neither can Grounds. Put his finger on it, that is. At least, he can’t put either of the first two fingers of his right hand on it, because he lost them saving Mandy from an alligator.

What happened was, Mandy was walking by a pond in Grounds’ backyard when she was attacked by a 7-foot alligator. At this point in my career I would have been saying, “Honey, we really should think about getting another dog.” But Grounds ran over and grabbed the gator by the jaws.

Then he remembered hearing that if you jab a gator in the eye, he’ll release whatever he’s got. So Grounds jabbed, and the gator released. Then they looked at each other, and the gator snapped and caught two of Grounds’ fingers.

Grounds couldn’t figure out what to do, even though he’d just made the gator release Mandy by poking it in the eye. But I shouldn’t criticize, since I wouldn’t have poked that gator in the eye, even with your finger. The gator rolled, and Grounds’ fingers came right off.

Mandy is fine, and Grounds is expected to recover, at least from the loss of his fingers. But as Ron White says, there are some things that can’t be fixed. The gator was caught and is expected to get three to five, with time off for good behavior.

So all’s well that ends well, except that we have no idea who Taco Bell will hire for future commercials. Unless Willie Nelson cheats on his taxes again . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who never eats at Taco Bell, or plays with alligators. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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