Friday, July 24, 2009

Is that dog pee on the floor?

We have a new roommate in the holiday house. You can hear his mellifluous voice from a few blocks away. With melancholy I remember my former life sitting silently with my coffee at this table in the mornings, thinking my quixotic thoughts. Few sounds disrupted my mellow existence then. After everybody went to work it was a peaceful time for me, when I could think and write and code like the versatile genius that I am.

But now we have a dog. A dog that meows. He is the equivalent of a clingy woman: the kind that repels men with her unreasonable demand for affection. Our dog demands to know where I am at any given time. He complains audibly in his language until he is allowed inside. His goal is to follow me himself and make sure that all my activities meet with his approval. When he is excluded from my bathroom activities he is outraged. How dare I banish him from observing the intricacies of the human ways? When I come out I discover he has left me a surprise on the floor. A common form of protest for his kind, I presume. Fortunately, he does not understand the verbal manifestation of my rage. My cussing would be much too colorful for someone his age.

Bill has illusions that the dog understands what he is saying. He looks at the dog and says “Stop!” The dog responds with a dumb stare. “See? It’s working,” Bill says with delight. The same confusion occurs when he says “Sit!” and the dog, after more staring and pausing and wondering, sits down on his hind legs and waits. This is going on in Bill’s head: “I told him to sit, he sat, therefore he obeys.” This is going on in the dog’s head: “These guys are going to gibber for a while here, so I might as well have a seat.” I suppose the dog is going to sit down eventually, whatever we do. I leave it up to my wishful thinking to connect the sitting dog with the instruction “Sit!” which I yelled at him an hour ago. Who knows? Maybe the dog has really good memory...

In any case, this creature has to have a name, and it has to be “Rebel” because it sounds cool. I call him Billy Idol. He could not care less about either of those. For the time being everybody calls him “Baby,” because he is a puppy, and he thinks that that is his name. Bill, of course, is oblivious to this.

I am beginning to understand why people say that dogs are good intermediaries for meeting people. Whenever I am out with the dog people seem to fall into mawkish mode. I am beset by an avalanche of “awww” and “ohhh” and brainless adjectives like “cute,” “sweet,” “little” and the ever-present “Pu-ppyyyyy!” This whole dog business has me a little disconcerted. I have never had an animal before. Not even a fish. Because of either terrible misfortune or – let’s face it – pathetic incompetence, I have succeeded to murder all the living things that I have come in contact with. Dutch tulips, Parma violets and a cactus are among my victims.

In light of my dark past, I am concerned for the livelihood of our new pet. Perhaps I had better tie my hands together and wear a muzzle. Stay away from the cage of the deadly beast! All parents, keep your children close! But this black fog of a dog still comes to me, wagging his tail in curlicues, and licks my feet with that warm sponge tongue of his. How ingenuous.

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