A Bucklesberry man hopes he’s not barking up the wrong tree with his new business venture.
When Michael Gagliano, 63, of Bucklesberry retired after 40 years as a French fry designer for Ore-Ida, the first thing he did was visit the local dog shelter.
“The French fry game has changed so much over the years,” Gagliano said. “During the golden age of prepackaged consumables, like snowflakes no two French fries were alike. I routinely spent hours designing unique ridges for a single bag of crinkle cut fries. It’s true this process only allowed us to produce three bags of fries per day, but quality takes time. Eventually the suits took over and demanded we produce more than three bags per day. Now all the fries look the same.”
Having shrewdly invested in Tater Tots as a young man, Gagliano decided he was financially secure enough to turn his back on the tumultuous world of taters.
“My goals for retirement were pretty simple,” Gagliano said. “I wanted to buy an old truck and drive around with my dog.”
After acquiring and old truck with a muffler that sounds like Tom Waits with the flu, Gagliano set out to find a dog to go with his truck. He immediately fell in love with a Golden Retriever named Frank at the Lenoir County SPCA. When his friends congratulated him for rescuing the dog, Gagliano recoiled at their adulation.
“It’s not like I ran into a burning building and actually ‘rescued’ the dog,” Gagliano said. “I went to the pound and bought a used dog.”
Although friendly and cute as homemade shoes, Frank wasn’t very outgoing at first.
“Frank was a little timid during the ride home but you could tell he was a sweet dog,” Gagliano said. “The only thing was he kept his head tucked under his belly most of the time. When he finally sat up I realized why he was concealing his head; he was bald.”
Jon Hughes is a Lenoir County veterinarian who specializes in the treatment of bald dogs, cats and turtles.
“MPD – Male Puppy Baldness – is a rare condition affecting around three percent of the canine population,” Hughes said. “Follically challenged dogs are no laughing matter. These poor cue balls are often shunned in the dog community, thus causing them to develop an inferiority complex. In extreme cases, bald dogs with low self-esteem will lower themselves to hanging out with cats just so they won’t be alone.”
As soon as Gagliano returned home with his new dog, he posted a message on Facebook asking for spare dog hair.
“I was just glad to have a use for all of the dog hair that piles up under my carport,” said Janet Carter of Kinston. “My dog sheds so much that his stray hairs form tumbleweeds. One of the tumbleweeds grew to such a great size that one of my neighbor’s inbred Borzois tried to date it.”
Eventually Gagliano started receiving Ziploc bags of donated dog hair from his Facebook friends.
“It took a week,” Gagliano said. “But after a few false starts I made my first dog wig. I attached it to Frank’s head with a mixture of Hubba Bubba and duct tape.”
While Gagliano knew immediately he’d succeeded, his dog required time to adjust.
“I held up a mirror so he could see his new hair but Frank thought it was another dog and kept trying to sniff the back of it,” Morgan said. “Eventually he realized what was going on and I could see his confidence soar. His posture was more assured, his breathing more relaxed and his rap with the little poodle next door reached Teddy Pendergrass ’84 levels.”
Within a matter of days, Morgan was filling orders from Manteo to Cucamonga.
“If you need a rug for your Pug or a toupee for your Shar Pei, we’ve got ’em covered.”
Jon Dawson’s books available at www.jondawson.com.