Curiosity may kill the cat, I fear, but won’t do anything for dogs, especially this dog, unfortunately, even though the beast is hugely curious about everything. I should point out that the dog does not belong to me, but to my brother; I am not really a pet person, which may account for why I’ve never had one. I had a pet geranium named Hubert once; my father named him, assuming you can call a flower a him and not an it, after the then Vice President of the United States and Democratic presidential candidate, Hubert Humphrey; but a deer of deeply held Republican sympathies ate Hubert one night, leaving me largely indifferent to the loss. Then there was a mob of six-toed cats that chose our back yard as their base of operations, but you really couldn’t call them pets; my father would not have them in the house and would not let us feed them at all. They were predators, he reasoned, so let them go predate and leave us alone. All in all, if I were to have a pet, I’d have a cat. I know that lots of people can’t stand cats, but I enjoy their whole supercilious look, let’s not kid ourselves here, you porcine dolt, I’m doing you a huge favor by staying in this pestilential dump attitude towards being a pet. If I were a betting man, I’d guess the reason that cats ignore you when you talk to them is because cats only speak French.
My brother, however, has little use for cats. No indeed, the youngest brother is a dog man from way, way back. He always wanted a dog, but my father wouldn’t have one in the house, and now that the brother has grown and lives in his own house, he has his own dog to go with it. He got the dog about ten months ago, when it was a puppy, the kind of ugly pooch with huge floppy ears and woeful countenance that makes everyone who sees it go awww, isn’t he cute, he looks just like my cousin’s oldest boy when he was that age, which doesn’t say much for the kid at that age, I think. In any case, it’s been a little more than ten months since he got the dog, and while I can’t prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, I am fairly certain that there are steroids, lots and lots of steroids, in this dog’s food.
I got stuck with this canine behemoth in the usual manner; the brother, who is cavorting away in Cancun with his girl friend even as I write this bitter screed, told our mother a sob story, something about the dog having a urinary tract infection and that it wouldn’t be right for him (the brother) to board the dog at a kennel, since they would keep him (the dog) in his cage all day long, allowing the infection to get worse and so could he (the brother) keep him (the dog) at my mother’s house, just until he (the brother) got back from Mexico? This is an old story in this neck of the woods, what with the youngest brother spending his life getting away with this kind of thing simply because of the lateness of his arrival on the scene. In any fairly large family (I have four brothers), the oldest children traditionally bear the brunt of the discipline, simply because they’re the ones who have to put up with amateurs trying to raise kids. By the time the youngest sibling arrives, the parents are usually too exhausted to care much what the youngest one does; so long as he doesn’t smoke dope or contract an incurable social disease, he can do whatever he wants without too much negative input from the parents.
The thing of it is, however, that the brother tried to fob the dog off on my mother the next day and she took one look at the size of this beast and said, no way, bring him to your brother’s house. So he did, and when I grandly proclaimed, Get that dog out of my house now, the brother took the opportunity presented by my going to answer the phone to hop in his car and drive to the airport, leaving me with Rudolph. Rudolph is a purebred bloodhound, although why my brother would want a purebred bloodhound in the first place is one of those Rosicrucian mysteries that defeat even the oddest of imaginations. While there are a fair number of prisons within driving distance of our happy little burg, cons busting out the big house is not exactly a major problem around here, and consequently there’s little need for a bloodhound named Rudolph, whose nose, for all its olfactory prowess, does not shine at all and therefore will never have the honor of pulling Santa’s sled on Christmas Eve. Maybe on the day after Christmas, when Santa hunts down the escaping elves, but for the big gig, it’s reindeer only.
Rudolph, as you may have guessed, is a large dog, weighing about a hundred pounds and standing about six feet tall on his hind legs. This latter fact I am sure of, since Rudolph likes to jump up on me and look me straight in the eye while he slobbers all over my face. I hate dogs slobbering all over me, but I should not feel angry in this case, I suppose, as Rudolph slobbers over everyone and everything. The dog lives to smell and to slobber, smelling and slobbering the unsuspecting without regard to the race, religion, or place of national origin of the person or thing slobbered upon. And, as you might imagine, trying to walk Rudolph while at the same time keeping your shoulder firmly in its socket poses something of a challenge, as does actually holding onto his leash and keeping your balance. Chewing gum or thinking about baseball is not advisable in this situation, as it may present one challenge too many for the human mind to cope with. The dog’s original leash was a heavy chain, which I no longer use; I like my fingers—they are invaluable for typing or picking one’s nose, for example—and I want to keep the undamaged ones in a continuing state of undamage, if there is such a word.
It’s been like this for a week now, but all hope is not yet lost: the brother returns from his romp in the Mexican Riviera tomorrow and will take Rudolph off my hands once and for all. I was so ecstatic about this turn of events that I put the dog in his crate tonight, just to make sure he didn’t try to hide somewhere on the premises, and one of the other brothers promised to walk him tomorrow morning, just so I wouldn’t have to look at the beast ever again. I am so happy that I can hardly contain myself anymore, a happiness tinged with much anger, however, as this episode has turned me into something of a criminal. I do not like confessing to this in such a public forum, but there are pooper—scooper laws in effect from one end of our happy little burg to the other, and I have spent the better part of a week violating that law. I know that I am an evil person, a criminal, a threat to the public’s health as well as to its shoes, a knave and a varlet and a scoundrel for my vile flouting of this important municipal ordinance, but I am not cleaning up after a dog, any dog, and especially a dog I didn’t want in the first place. Fraternal obligation will only go so far and then it’s every man and his dog for himself.