Archived Story

The Hefties and the Laps duke it out

Published 12:12pm Saturday, April 2, 2011

Column: Pass the Hot Dish, by Alexandra Kloster

Gangs in Woodbury, Minnesota. No one could have predicted it, but here they are, terrorizing the neighborhood and even living under my own roof.

They call themselves the Hefties and the Laps. For a while they managed a partial détente, but this winter, with its early snows and ridiculously late thaws, drove them to turf wars, rumbles and gambling in the streets.

Alexandra Kloster

The Hefties live down the road. There’s the wandering Irish wolfhound, the screaming beagle, the sneering boxer, and the Boston terrier who looks like he wants to break a beer bottle over my head every time I walk by his yard.

On the other end of the strip is my house, Lap headquarters. To the right of us is Goofy, the Cuban raised Shih Tzu who responds only to Spanish, and on the left is Furby, the agoraphobic Bichon Frise who watches me like Boo Radley. Lap leader Sidney, the Yorkie and his enforcer Gizmo, the bald Pomeranian live with me and are, perhaps, the most dangerous in all the lapdog gang.

If my dogs were people they’d be jailbirds. Indecent exposure is Sidney’s weakness. Fearing accusation of obscenity, I cannot give you the details of Sid’s repeated transgressions. Let’s just say the only doggie outfit he’ll wear is a trench coat. Gizmo’s crime is assault and battery on a benevolent master. Every morning as my husband, Graham, leaves for work Gizmo leaps up and bites him on the leg. “If all your fur fell out you’d be bitter too,” is the only defense I can ever offer.

Not content wreaking havoc at home, Sid and Giz took to the streets, riling up the other dogs and splitting their allegiance into two crews.

There’s also a pacifist Westie who wonders why everyone can’t just get along.

Now no one is safe. There are gang symbols in the snow banks and every leash has a barking maniac on the end of it. No more do we hear the lulling screeches of feral cats at night. Now there’s only the sound of growling Hefties and the high-pitched yipping of the Laps.

They’ve made a mockery of everything that was once good here at Lodges on the Preserve. Just yesterday as I was washing the graffiti off the walls of Sidney’s kennel, I found a pile of Milkbone dog biscuits hidden under his blanket. I had no choice but to tell his father.

“What do you make of these, Graham?”

“Ill gotten gains for sure.”

“I knew it! They’ve been gambling! Sidney’s running a floating crap game and Gizmo rules the obschak!”


Sometimes I forget my husband knows nothing of the Russian underworld.

“Trust me, it’s no good. It’s time to see a professional.”

I consulted with our trusted veterinarian who gave me solid advice. He told me I should read the wisdom of Cesar. The next time we took the dogs for their evening stroll, I waited until it devolved into the usual brawl and then applied my new psychology.

“This is not about grapes and lettuce!” I cried.

“What are you doing?” Graham asked.

“I’m quoting Cesar Chavez.” Didn’t he know anything about dog training?

“Cesar Millan. The vet wanted you to read ‘The Dog Whisperer,’” he informed me, shaking his head.

“So I’m not supposed to organize them into a union and point them toward a common threat?” I was crushed.

It was no use. The Hefty would never lie down with the Lap. We’d have to change our names and move. Then, under the pretense of digging up a bone, the old wolfhound threw me a low peace sign. Maybe he was only luring me into a false sense of security, but I think he might have been suggesting a truce. After all, spring was coming (it is coming, right?) and it was a time for new beginnings. There was hope!

Maybe if Sid and Giz set an example and stopped stealing and fighting, Furby would come out of the house and Goofy would answer to more than just Spanish swearing. Maybe they could all be normal old lapdogs and…What was that crash in the kitchen? What is that smell? Oh, no.



Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears each Sunday. She may be reached at, and her blog is Radishes at Dawn at