A chihuahua cured my asthma

Frank CagleFeature, Frank Talk

In the past year I have been treated by some of Knoxville’s finest. A surgeon, a family doctor, an oncologist and assorted other experts. Every sort of modern medical device has been inflicted on me and I need a spreadsheet to keep up with the bills. Things were not so sophisticated as I grew up in rural Alabama. When I was a child, for instance, a chihuahua cured my asthma.


I took a trip down memory lane recently, reviewing my checkered medical history while lying on a gurney waiting for yet another “procedure.” Medical science and any doctor will tell you that a Mexican mutt cannot cure asthma, though some were not so sure back there in the 1950s. It was seriously studied. There is no cure for asthma so I figure the country doctors had to tell desperate parents something they could do. So, it was a craze for a few years to get young children a dog and kennels full of chihuahuas sprang up in back yards. They mostly bred nervous, high strung dogs that would bite you in a heartbeat.

We named our dog Mutt, and he had the normal temperament of a normal dog. I already had a mixed breed dog named Jeff. Mutt and Jeff. Get it? (You young people can Google it.) So, Mutt slept in my bed every night. Looking back, I always thought it a local phenomenon, but Google tells me it was a widespread thing. Snopes tells me that some children outgrow asthma and the dog would get the credit and success stories spread.

I have my own theory. As little brothers and sisters came along they displaced older children in the baby bed in the parents’ room and went into exile in another bedroom. I think this may have provoked panic attacks in some children and the warmth and comfort of a toy dog may have stopped them. Doctors instructed desperate parents to make sure the chihuahua slept on the child’s chest. All I know is that my asthma attacks stopped.

Mutt was a good bed buddy for about five years until he decided to get tough with a big neighborhood dog with tragic results. I’ve never run into anyone who had the chihuahua cure. If you’ve heard of it shoot me an email at efrankcagle@yahoo.com.

Meanwhile all this modern medicine, though complicated and often painful, saved my life. It’s been almost exactly a year since my cancer surgery. I have finished chemotherapy and a scan shows no cancer markers at present. I will be checked frequently going forward cause the kind I had is prone to coming back. But for now, I’m trying to walk around and act like a normal person.

(Doctor joke: Why do they call it chemotherapy? Cause all the good four-letter words are taken.)

Short takes

Saint John: The death of John McCain has prompted wall-to-wall media coverage. He died on a Friday leading to 10 days of coverage across news channels and live reports on broadcast. By contrast, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Friday. Memorials, lying in state and internment took three days.

Aside from the excessive coverage I find a couple of things especially irritating. Some of the crocodile tears were from people who savaged McCain when he dared run against Barack Obama. Granted I didn’t see all the coverage, but I saw enough to notice that there were two words never uttered: Sarah Palin. They didn’t want to talk about that McCain decision.

Don’t get we wrong. I liked McCain. He was a war hero. I supported him in 2000 against George W. Bush because I liked the fact that he was a maverick. And then there was my solemn vow from 1992 to never again vote for any member of the Bush family.

But McCain had his faults. He was no saint and 10 days of fawning by the media did not make him one. In all the praise the thing that stood out from talking heads is that he was “bipartisan.” He got along with Democrats like Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman better than his fellow Republicans. (Except Lindsey Graham.) But his current popularity comes from one thing: He was a thorn in the side of Donald Trump and they hated each other. One wonders how the coverage would have been had McCain been a Trump ally.

Long season: I will leave informed analysis of the Vols football team to the experts like Marvin West. As a casual fan, however, I saw enough talent on Saturday to make me believe this team can go 6-6 and to a bowl this year. We need to hope the team is on its way up and will be successful. We have wasted too many millions of dollars on coaches that couldn’t get it done.

Speaking of football coaches. UT tried to hire Ohio State University assistant coach Greg Schiano as football coach but a fan revolt stopped it. OSU’s Urban Meyer has been suspended three games for a variety of charges that would get any other coach in America fired. But did OSU make Schiano the acting coach with Meyer gone? No, they promoted Ryan Day, another assistant. Maybe the fans saved us from another disappointment. We were going to hire as head coach a guy Ohio State wouldn’t let coach three games.

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