Butter Is A Prairie Dog Now
When you’re driving through that flat stretch of land, sunflowers and wind we call Kansas, and you see a sign that reads, “LIVE RATTLESNAKES! PRAIRIE DOGS! BABY PIGS! 6 LEGGED COWS! 5 LEGGED COWS! BUFFALO! 20 MILES!” there are 2 reactions that occur:
1. You realize that seeing LIVE RATTLESNAKES! PRAIRIE DOGS! BABY PIGS! 6 LEGGED COWS! 5 LEGGED COWS! and BUFFALO! is really all you’ve ever wanted.
2. You think to yourself that it’s been so long since you last stopped, and that you really could use a stretch and a Coca Cola.
And so you stop. And you pay the $8.95 per person and take your dog, Butter, inside the building; novelty gift shop on the right, taxidermy and entrance into PRAIRIE DOG TOWN on the left. You take a look at all the taxidermy JACKALOPE! DEER! BOBCATS! and COUGARS! and you peer inside that big, unlabeled box in the corner of the room and you see LIVE RATTLESNAKES!
Butter was soooo scared of the rattlesnakes. So we walked outside and saw PRAIRIE DOGS! running wild, popping in and out of their elaborately burrowed, doggy holes that stretched throughout the property like a life size game of whack-a-mole. They chittered and chattered at Butter and she pulled on her leash with excitement and fear. She had seen the GOATS! and they really scared her. She was soooo scared!She didn’t like the WILD PIGEONS! very much either.
Or the LONGHORN STEER! But that goes without saying. For a dog with empathetic qualities, it was hard for her to see WILD ANIMALS IN CAGES! KIT FOXES! and COYOTES! BOBCATS! and PEACOCKS! that would never touch their feet to grass and who don’t react when she asked if they’d like to play.
And although she pointed with amusement at the 6 LEGGED COW! and it’s friend the 5 LEGGED COW! she was sad when she realized that these genetic mutations with big brown eyes were probably like that because of the practices of big factory-to-table farming that she had heard about on the internet, where livestock is injected with hormones to make it a bigger yielding steak.
Larry, the owner of Prairie Dog Town, who may be one of Neil Gaiman’s roadside American God’s struggling to make a living in a world full of unbelieving, vegetarian, folk bands raised on Zoobooks and Fern Gully, has plans of selling Prairie Dog Town this September after owning and operating it for 45 years. He’s a hardworking man who wears rattlesnake T-shirts and whose arms have cuts still bleeding next to faded green tattoos.
You feel like he got the raw end of the deal, living in a world that doesn’t appreciate freaks anymore and has no patience for blood sacrifices. He tells you funny jokes and opens up about putting 3 kids through college on a petting zoo income, PETA’s attempts to ruin his business, and how $300,000 could get you a Prairie Dog Town of your very own. He and his wife are planning to take a trip to NIAGRA FALLS! if they ever find someone willing to buy the place and do the work necessary to take care of the animals that live in Prairie Dog Town. You wish him peace and rest, a well earned vacation after all his hard work.
We said goodbye and he told us to be careful; the barometer was dropping and this was Kansas. We bought two bottled coca colas and drove off into LIGHTNING! THUNDER! HEAVY RAINFALL! with the responsibility of knowledge weighing heavy on us, and we thought about how our conscience had begun to ruin a perfectly good roadside attraction.