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Babycakes comes along on a trip to the hypnotist

Part 5 of the fictionalized adventures of two sisters, Sherry and Dawn, one Medford-bred, the other Ashland-loving, and their adventures across the Rogue Valley. Find prior chapters at www.dailytidings.com.

My research on blown up bank-owned homes told me that two local houses had exploded — not full-on, kaboom obliteration, but enough to seriously damage the property. All the police knew was that the pipe bombs were made by amateurs with little knowledge of what they were doing.

I had to get out of the house for a breather.

The Ashland Dog Park spreads out towards Bear Creek with a breathtaking view of the Cascade Mountains. My French bulldog, Babycakes, whom Sherry called the offspring of a hippopotamus and a bat, doesn’t like dogs. But she’s my tiny rescue baby and I want to rehabilitate her, so sometimes we venture here. We start our visit in the fenced side yard, adjusting to the idea of hanging out with the rowly-growly zoo that makes up the local denizens.

Babycakes puffs up her blond chest, barking and running around like a wart hog on speed, sticking her smashed nose into the fence to snort her way to freedom. Once she calms down, we enter the main park, walking down the slope toward the creek, away from the conga lines of humping hounds, people tossing dripping tennis balls and an army of Chihuahua greeters.

But just when I think she’s fit for company, she charges up to a great dane on leash, barking furiously. The owner, a fragile old man, slips and falls on a large mound of steaming poop while his cowed monster of a dog runs off with Babycakes in slobbery pursuit. He glares at me as I help him up and says, “Get that terrorist out of here.” He shakes off my apology and stalks off. We’ve been excommunicated from the dog park. My muddy, drool-encrusted child and I slouch back to my Honda CRV in shame.

My next stop is visiting Clara Lieberman, a hypnotist, who was recommended as someone who could help me stop smoking. I bring Babycakes along for support, wondering if dogs can be hypnotized to change behavior. I’ve already tried obedience school.

Clara, dressed in flowing, cheerful colors, with a halo of curly grey hair, welcomes me at the door. After we get settled, she questions me.

“What does smoking mean to you?”

“I hate to admit it but I enjoy smoking. It’s a familiar comfort. My parents smoked. I started when I was 18, mostly because everyone around me was doing it.”

“And you’ve tried to quit before?”

“Many, many times.” I sighed and leaned back into the plush recliner with Babycakes in my lap.

“What happens when you quit?”

“I crave it. My sense of smell returns. I enjoy the taste of food more. But odors become so strong that I get overwhelmed at times.”

“Let’s keep an eye on that phenomenon as we work together. OK?”

After more questions and our first trance session, I promised to stop smoking until our next appointment. My bad dog licked her toes worshipfully and we left.

At home, I listened to a frantic phone message from Ray, Sherry’s husband.

“Dawn, have you seen Sherry? She was supposed to meet me at the Rogue Valley Country Club for a late lunch. She never showed up. I’m worried, especially after that house that blew up last week. Call me.”

I had no idea where Sherry was.

Next week: Dawn gets some help from her new roommate in the search for Sherry.