[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
no bad dogs, only bad owners
last night i was thinking about how much i miss my estranged dog, max. max is, in my opinion, the worst dog ever. in the history of dogs. the world over.
when i moved to dc, i couldn’t find an apartment that would allow me to keep him. see, not only is max the worst dog ever. in the history of dogs. the world over. he’s also about 100 pounds. so, that makes it kind of tough. one of my friends was like, “just don’t tell the apartment management people, and then just sneak and have him anyway.”
yeah, no one will notice the 100 pound black dog digging holes in the community area. no, max is not exactly sneakable.
it all started innocently enough. i had lost my last dog, molly – the best dog ever. in the history of dogs. the world over. – when my house burned down. i wasn’t sure i would ever really want another dog. i was honestly worried that i would always compare my new dog to molly, and the new dog would, inevitably, come up short. then i decided i was being kind of creepy [you know that line about "you can love your pets, just don't love your pets?], so i decided to get a new dog.
i went to my local shelter. i swore i was “just looking.” i don't know who i thought i was fooling with that line. i can’t even "just look" at target, and no one at target is standing next to me saying, “oh yes, that eiffel tower topiary has been here for several weeks. i sure hope someone comes along and falls in love with it. it’s so loving. it just needs a good home. soon.”
there he was. a little black puppy sitting quietly in the corner of the cage while all the other puppies jumped and barked and yelped for my attention. he looked so sad. and he was so quiet. for years, i looked back on his demeanor there in the shelter with a sense of wonderment. why? he seemed so quiet. so sweet.
i understand now that is was all part of the grift. the scam. the con. and i was such a sucker.
“what can you tell me about that one?”
the attendant pulled his blue information card.
“okay, he’s a pure bred lab…” she began.
“um, no, he isn’t. see how his chest is white? and how long his ears are? my last two dogs were labs, and he definitely has lab in him, but he’s not a pure bred lab. it's not a big deal to me, but you might want to make a note of that.”
“well, the card says he is.”
“okay, but that’s not correct.”
“and it says he’s housebroken.”
“huh. well, does it say why he was brought here?”
“yeah. it says ‘destructive’ and ‘bad dog.’”
well, how horrible was that? i mean, here was this cute, quiet little puppy. "bad dog"?!? man, i was just fuming. irresponsible people. no bad dogs, only bad owners. blah blah blah.
“okay, i’ll take him.”
of course, this being a shelter, he had to have the procedure before i could bring him home. when i picked him up, they told me that he was very groggy from the anesthesia, and that he would probably be a little listless and sleepy for a day or two.
for the next two days, he was this pliable, cuddly little puppy. of course, it became clear by day four that those blissful moments had been directly linked to the anesthesia still coursing through his devil dog veins. in the subsequent years, i have often thought back to those first days together, when max was in a drug-induced state of pleasantry. the halcyon days. our salad days.
it became readily apparent that “pure bred lab” was not the only error on max’s blue card. he was definitely not housebroken.
max’s favorite pastime was to spend thirty minutes or so wandering around outside in the freezing-ass cold, pretending he was going to pee at any moment. there i was, bundled in layers of scarves and hats and gloves and mittens over the gloves, shouting words of encouragement.
“come on, max! that’s it! that’s a good boy, max! go potty!”
eventually, when i could no longer feel my extremities, i would give up and we’d head back inside.
almost immediately, max would walk to the center of the room and pee.
sometimes, he’d make a special effort. he’d wait until i left the room, then he’d take a huge dump in the middle of the room. then, he’d eat half of it. then, because i’m pretty sure that the digestive system of mammals is not genetically engineered to handle such things, he would puke it up directly onto the remaining pile of poo.
and then he’d trot off and collapse almost immediately into a deep and blissful sleep.
who could blame him? i mean, eating your own poo must really take it out of a guy.
when spring arrived, i decided that, in order for max to survive the next year of his life, obedience school was in order.
we found a small school that offered a twelve-week course, with personal attention. and a money-back guarantee.
the next eight weeks were excruciating. humiliating. max would simply go dead weight on the end of his leash when asked to do pretty much anything. unless the command was sit, lie or stay, in which case he would immediately pull me across the lawn and start humping the first available dog. but, if the command involved movement, such as “heel,” max would drop to the ground and refuse to move. i remember one session in particular when the instructor, as frustrated with me as i was with max, told me in an exasperated tone, “well, just try bribing him! use your treats!”
so, i held out a treat. and max, ever the glutton [i mean, you gotta think this is a dog who will eat anything, right?] immediately sat up and devoured the treat. and then, immediately threw himself back down onto the ground.
the instructor came around and squatted down. she started pushing max’s backside, and shouted at me to “pull!” so, there we were, her pushing, me pulling, and max just looking at me as if to say, “if you don’t cut this out, i’m going to do the eat-poo-then-puke trick right here, right now.”
that was week eight.
at the end of the class, the instructor called me aside.
“um, this is sort of unusual, but i thought it would be best if i just gave you your money back.”
“but, this is only the eighth week.”
“yes. so…um, that would mean that you wouldn’t, you know, have to come back for the other classes.”
so, that was that.
as spring turned to summer, max was still not housebroken, which resulted in him being crated all day. i hated the idea of crating, although it was necessary to keep from coming home to a three bedroom litter box. i bought max the biggest “crate” i could find. it was actually more like a cage for a lion or a tiger. at any rate, every morning before leaving for work, i would wrangle max into his cage. he hated it, and so did i.
one monday, black monday as we now refer to it, i decided to try a different approach. i placed a baby gate in the doorway of each entrance to my kitchen. i put every toy known to dogkind in the kitchen, along with max. a quick scan of the kitchen showed that there was nothing on the floor that max could get into. the trash was safely locked away in the pantry. the flour and sugar in canisters on the counter, pushed as far back against the wall as possible. not even a dishtowel hanging somewhere in temptation.
that day was hell at work. my two co-workers and i got the irrefutable message that our newly installed supervisor was suffering with an advanced case of bitch fever. prognosis was that it was so far advanced as to be untreatable. i remember thinking on my way home, “man…i’m going to eat every fucking brownie left in my house.”
see, i’d had a party that weekend. and my friend, who is a chef [i highly recommend having at least one friend who is a chef, by the way.] had made me a huge platter of his world-famous brownies. i don’t know if it’s the crack he puts in them, or the incredibly dark, rich fudgy icing, but whatever it is, they are so good as to be indescribable. and i was lucky enough to have about a dozen left over from the party. they were safely tucked away on a platter, covered in saran wrap, on top of my stove.
as i put the key in the lock, i looked through the glass of my front door and noticed something lying on the living room floor. i couldn’t tell what it was, but i didn’t remember it being there when i left that morning.
stepping into the apartment, i noticed that it was eerily quiet. i walked immediately to the kitchen. the baby gates stood quietly in their assigned places.
i noticed that there was a tube of apricot facial scrub lying in the middle of the kitchen floor. something was definitely wrong.
there was no sign of max.
as i stood a moment longer, looking at the kitchen, i noticed that there were dark brown streaks all over my white cabinets. black smears all over the hardwood floor.
but no sign of max.
i walked back to the living room, and picked up the object i had seen lying on the floor. it was the black plastic platter that had held the dozen brownies. warped. chewed.
something i had read years ago flashed through my head: chocolate kills dogs.
“max! max! max! where the hell are you?!”
i ran through the apartment, expecting to find his lifeless, fudge-filled body.
when i got to my bathroom i stopped dead in my tracks.
the vanity. the shower. the toilet. the floor. all white when i left the house that morning.
all brown now.
and, oddly, wet.
as in water.
the shower was wet, as though i had just used it. a huge brown smear ran down the side of the tub. there was what looked like muddy water all over the bath mat, all over the floor. but no tracks out of the bathroom. was he still in the bathroom?
i was dazed and confused.
and then, i heard the softest sound.
pad pad pad
i turned around, and there he was.
his entire head was covered in wet, gooey, fudgy chocolate.
and his feet were covered in cotton balls.
“holy shit, you’d better run you son of a bitch!”
from what i pieced together, and granted, this is all pure speculation, i guess that max ate the brownies and then found himself covered in fudgy goodness. obviously, this was not acceptable. so, he carefully opened the baby gate, making sure to close it behind him, and went into the bathroom where he attempted to wipe off the goo with an entire bag of cotton balls he found under the sink. of course, this was foolish, as the cotton balls merely adhered to the fudgy glue. so, the next logical option would be to take a shower. unfortunately, the shower still did not do the trick, so he was forced to attempt to remove the sticky wet mass of cotton balls using an abrasive exfoliant – the apricot facial scrub. it was then, in the midst of exfoliation, that i came home and interrupted him.
i’m sure he was going to clean up the entire thing if i had just given him time.
man. i miss my dog.
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