He stands, in the altogether, at twenty-three inches. He has four paws, a tail, and fine tan dog-hair --- except for on the ears and the nose and around the eyes, all touched with black. It gives him a very grave look, like those monkeys in the zoo that look sweet and querelous and smart and you want to take them home with you.

Even though he looks like a dog, and smells like a dog, Doggie still thinks he is a people. This means that whenever I go out --- to the P.O., to the store, to the doctor's office --- he has to tag along, just to be sure that I am not running away from home, and him, leaving him out of all the fun of life.

When I go out, there are times when a Doggie is inappropriate, so I try to leave him at home. Fat chance. He has found a mysterious door that leads directly from my bedroom to the world. On top of that, he has the ability to fly. Which means when I get down around Broadway, I see a tan blur in the car-mirror which tells me that my frolicksome buddy is following me at Mach 2.

So I stop traffic, and open the door and tell him to get in ("Get in, you lunch-head") and he hops up, stomping his big hairy foot on my nuts as he heads for the back seat.

For our trip to Dr. Feelgood's, he plants his forepaws on the front seat, and rests his sweet little pin-head on my right shoulder. Since he thinks he is a people, on top of his other chores he has to supervise my driving.

This means that when I go to make a right turn, and look to the right, he turns his head to the left and gives me a big French kiss with his two-footer tongue, right in the mouth. (Moments before, he was using his tongue to clean his butthole. What a pal!)

Doctors aren't awfully fond of Doggies in their waiting rooms, so after I've gotten my wheelchair out, I lock him in the car so he can sit there and leave dog-drool all over my seat. "It's your own damn fault," I tell him, shooing him back in. (I talk to him as if he is a people and can understand my every word.) "If you'd stayed at home where you belong, you wouldn't have to stay out here in the car and sweat."

When I return in an hour, after finding out that I am pre-diabetic, and that I am going to die, which means I am pre-death --- aren't we all pre-death? --- I have one of the male nurses come out with me to help me get my wheelchair back in the truck. "You want me to get the dog in too," he asks, after Doggie slips out of the car and goes off to sit in the shade on the ice-plants and cool off. "No problem," I say. "He'll come when I call."

Nurse Nice goes away and I call Doggie. "C'mon Doggie," I say, holding the door open, and doing the Andrews Sisters finger-snap routine. He looks at me and looks away. "C'mon, you bonehead," I say, in a coaxing, come-hither voice.

No Go. This is Gandhian passive resistance. What he is doing now is to let me know that for the last hour he has been in Doggie Auschwitz in the car, getting fried, and he didn't like it a bit, and he isn't about to get back in the oven to get cooked some more --- and if I think he is, I have another think coming.

"Get your ass in here," I shout lovingly. He looks at me and looks away. Although he's just out of reach, I figure that if I drive up close to the curb and lean all the way out of the car while I am holding onto the steering wheel I can snag his collar and drag him in and maybe strangle his ass in the process. So I hang on with my right hand and lean out the door and croon, "Nice little Doggie," and I reach out and get him and me to the point where I am about to join him on the ice-plants and then finally snag onto the edge of his collar and yank him over to the car door and go to pull him in. He starts wheezing and coughing, letting me know I am choking him to death, and also letting me know that he doesn't want to get in the car, even though he loves me a great deal. Why? Because he is independent, has an independent Doggie-brain of his own, no matter how tiny.

At that very moment, by my troth, Jesus comes down, and taps me on the shoulder, and says, "You're being cruel to one of my dumb beasts, you brute." He then takes out his Flaming Sword, and stabs me in the humerus, right where I have been carefully nursing my osteoarthritis for the last ten years, and I utter a groan, a heartfelt groan, and I drop Doggie, who quickly slinks back into the shade, and sits there in the cool, and pants some more. "I'm not getting in that hothouse again," he sneers. "Who do you think I am, boob?" Got that? My beloved Doggie not only sneers at me, he calls me boob.

What to do?

Well, I can take ten minutes or so and wrestle my wheelchair out, and get entangled in the ice-plants while I am catching the son-of-a-bitch --- and then shove him back in the car and shut the door on his tail, and then try to wrestle the wheelchair back in while he slips out again.

No. I have a better idea. I'll appeal to his animal fear --- that he's going to be left behind.

So I start up the car, and head across the lot, towards the gate, and smiling Doggie comes running behind, fox-hunt gusto: Great chase! And I stop and throw open the door and motion to him, as if he were a thinking, sentient being, which he isn't, because he sits down again just out of reach. So I start the car, and we go around the parking lot a few dozen times, Doggie in hot pursuit, having the time of his life, and I stop and open the door and do the c'mon-Doggie, puh-lese for-Christ's-sakes routine, appealing to his higher instincts. So he goes back to the ice-plant patch, and lies down, and pretends to go to sleep.

"If I stay here and play many more games with him," I think, "I am going to have a cardiac arrest. I'll be dead, and he'll be very sorry that he killed me, but I'll still be dead, and he'll have to go to the pound and they'll brutally execute him for the beastly way he has treated me."

But do you know that there is a kindly Doggie God? I swear to it. Just as I've reached the end of the line, I see over by the trashcan of the medical clinic a lady sitting on the curb brushing a huge brute of a dog or wolf or bear or whatever they use for pets around these parts.

"Hello," I call out. "I hope you don't think I'm a sex-mad-rapist," I think.

No answer.

"Hello," I say, even more loudly. "I have this dog who won't get in the car. And I can't get to him." She looks up and I motion to my handicapped sticker and smile and nod my head.

There is a Doggie God, I tell you. Not only does this lady love dogs, she loves all dogs, even my own Stupidhead Doggie. As she is shoving his ass in the car, she tells me about her own dog. Maybe she brought him over here for a Pet-scan, I think, but no, she works here as a nurse, and she always brings him along, and, even though he's getting old, she is thinking of showing him one more time, before she puts him out to pasture in Kibble Acres, and where did I get such a nice Doggie, and what do I do for a living, and if I ever need help again, etc etc.

As he and I are driving home, Doggie tries to snuggle up to me in recompense for his disgusting behavior, but I'll have none of it. "You stupid son-of-a-bitch," I say. (This is True. He is a son-of-a-bitch). "You're a mother-humper," I say. (This also might be true: knowing him and his randy ways, he probably would hump his own mother; if he only knew where she was.) "You drive me nuts. Someday, I swear, you fathead...someday I swear..." I tell him.

But I probably won't.

--- Carlos Amantea

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