October 31, 2008

[Editor’s Note: In honor of Halloween, The Lewis Letters disrupts its usual chronologically sequential presentation and leaps ahead to recall a Halloween of days gone by. Regularly scheduled programming will resume tomorrow.]

“Okay, Lewis, time to head outside.”

—What? It’s hardly light out.

“Sorry. Things to do, places to go.”

—But . . . but it’s cold out there.

“You have your doghouse.”

—But it hasn’t been properly prepared yet and the heater hasn’t been plugged in.

“I’m sorry, I can’t leave you inside, because I don’t know when I will be returning.”

—But . . . but . . .

“Also, I want to remind you that tonight lots of people might be showing up and we would prefer you don’t bark at them. Some will be very small children who might frighten easily.”

—Well, I don’t know, if I have to spend a lot of time outside, I might be cranky.

“I see, then perhaps we’ll just have to leave you outside until all the trick-or-treating is finished.”

—Now, now, no reason to get hasty . . . say, if I bark “trick or treat” will you give me a biscuit?

“I’ll think about it.”

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August 26, 2008

“I noticed that you tried to get into the garage again yesterday.”

—I did not.

“The door was open and pushed up against the dog food barrel; it didn’t open by itself.”

—It must have opened by itself, because that is something I do not do.

“What about all the times I’ve come home to find you in the garage, in the dark?”

—Burglars did that, to prevent me from doing my watchdog duties.

“Every time?”

—Yes. Different burglars, though.

“And just how does that work, exactly? Why didn’t you bark or bite them while they were putting you in the garage?”

—They surprised me while I was taking a well-earned nap: one minute I’m soaking up the sunlight, then, suddenly I wake up in the dark on the cold cement.

“Pretty sound sleeper.”

—I have a tiring job.

“They must be pretty strong burglars, too. You’re no featherweight.”

—Are you suggesting I’m fat?

“Well, that’s what the dog food label claims.”

—I have no control over what kind of food is purchased or what it says on the label.

“True. Just like you have no control over getting trapped in the garage.”

—Exactly.

“One last question: why haven’t the burglars stolen anything from the house after taking care of the vicious watchdog situation?”

—I think it’s time to get a drink of water.

August 25, 2008

“So, I’ve noticed how intently you stare at whatever food I’m eating when you want me to share; it’s a very interesting look.”

—Yes, it’s known as the Food Magnet Technique.

“It’s got a name?”

—Oh yeah, named and developed by one of the great dog philosophers of all time, Queenie.

“It’s nice to see that dogs aren’t sexist, that female dogs can be viewed as great philosophers.”

—Dogs don’t have many of the shortcomings humans have, however, Queenie was male: he just abided with some pretty stupid human beings. I’d tell you his dog name, which is much more dignified, but you wouldn’t understand it.

“Ah, of course I wouldn’t. So tell me about Food Magnetism.”

—It was first described in Queenie’s most famous bark, “How to Win Food and Influence Those You Abide With.”

“Bark?”

—Yes. Obviously, dogs don’t write books, we create barks, we have an oral tradition.

“That’s for sure. Is Mikey next door transmitting great barks?”

—No, like most little dogs, he’s just an idiot.

“Dogs may not be sexist, but they certainly seem to be size-ist.”

—We can’t help it: most little dogs are just big idiots.

“Get back to Queenie.”

—Well, Queenie taught us that the best way to score the food we deserved was to concentrate on it with all our might, to stare at the target with one thought in mind: You (meaning the food) are already mine. I’m already chewing you. You taste delicious. You’re being swallowed right now. You’re mine.

“That sounds like more than one thought.”

—Variations on a single theme.

“Mind over matter.”

—Yes.

“How does Queenie explain those times when Food Magnetism doesn’t work. Is it your fault, because you haven’t concentrated hard enough?”

—Sometimes, but mostly it just demonstrates that evil still exists in the world . . . but that’s a lesson for another day.

August 21, 2008

[Editor’s Note: Familiarizing yourself the August 20, 2008 post will help immeasurably in elucidating what follows.]

“She says you need better material.”

—She?

“Yeah, you know, your long-time owner.”

—Dogs aren’t “owned”—we simply abide with certain humans.

“The dog abides?”

—Exactly.

“Regardless, She With Whom You Abide thought your dog jokes stunk and said you need better material.”

—Philistines, I’m surrounded by Philistines.

“Right, blame the audience instead of your bad jokes.”

—The dog has no honor in its own household, alas.

“Give me a break: stealing from the Bible now?”

—It isn’t stealing when you thought of it first.

“You?”

—Well, my species.

“Uh huh, pretty high-falutin’ talk for someone who can’t open a door.”

August 20, 2008

“So, do dogs tell jokes?”

—Oh sure, all the time. We love jokes. In fact, in my humble opinion, dogs are probably the funniest species on the planet.

“I wouldn’t argue with that, you’re pretty darn goofy.”

—Ha, ha.

“Okay, tell me a dog joke.”

—Here’s a classic: why did the cat cross the road?

“I don’t know, why did the cat cross the road?”

—The chicken.

“What?”

—The chicken.

“That’s the joke?”

—Hilarious, isn’t it?

“Uh, not really. The punchline doesn’t make much sense.”

—Too subtle for you, I suppose.

“Subtle? It’s just . . . nothing.”

—Look, it’s a well-known fact that cats are afraid of chickens.

“They are?”

—Absolutely. So, obviously, the cat’s going to cross the road to escape the chicken. Now, if the punchline was: Because the cat was afraid of the chicken, it would be a bit too blatant.

“If you say so.”

—All right, here’s a less subtle variation on that joke: why did the cat cross the road?

“I don’t know: why did the cat cross the road?”

—Because cats are stupid.

“Hey, your leg is doing that pumping thing like when I rub your special spot.”

—Yeah, I just love that joke, it cracks me up every time.

“So, dogs laugh by pumping their hind legs?”

—That’s one way.

“Interesting.”

—Here’s another one: A cat goes into a bar and asks for a saucer of milk. And the bartender says, Hey, you stupid cat, this is a bar, not a dairy farm. And the cat says, Boy, do I feel stupid. And the bartender says, That’s because you’re a stupid cat.

“Um, doesn’t that joke sort of violate the whole subtlety thing?”

—No, not at all: the subtlety in that joke has to do with the precise timing of the repetition of the main point.

“That cats are stupid.”

—Yes.

“Are all dog jokes about cats?”

—Many of them are. There are some human jokes, but I won’t tell you any of those: it’s clear that your sense of humor is not that refined, and you might be insulted.

“And you wouldn’t want to insult the hand that feeds you.”

—That, too.

“Well, I’m insulted that you think I might be insulted.”

—Does this mean I don’t get a biscuit?

August 13, 2008

[Editor’s Note: On August 12, 2008, Andrea suggests that a book that compiled these conversations with Lewis might be something to consider.]

—You’re writing a book about me?

“Maybe.”

—I suppose you want to capture in words how well I fulfill the ideal of the All-American Canine Companion, how diligently I pursue my duties, day in and day out, with nary a thought for anything else.

“Yeah, something like that.”

—Do I detect a trace of sarcasm?

“No. No, not at all.”

—Oh yes I do: your denial was definitely sarcastic. I refuse to be made fun of in this so-called book of yours. I have my dignity to consider.

“Believe me, I’ll record every moment of dignity completely and in exact detail.”

—All right then.

“All two of them.”

—I can pee on computers, you know.

August 12, 2008

—Can I bark at the UPS man when he arrives?

“Why would you need to do that?”

—Keep in practice. Great watchdogs aren’t born, they’re made. Made with intense training. And practice. Even humans say: ‘Practice makes perfect.’

“Um, no.”

—Okay, but I can’t guarantee anything, given the fierce protective instincts that have been bred into my very soul, combined with the fact that my number one priority is to safeguard the territory of my beloved human friends, to staunchly and stoutly defend the household from enemy encroachment, to boldly sacrifice my own body if need be to preserve the integrity of this sacred home, to . . . .

“Nice speech, but I thought your number one priority was to beg as much food as you could from your gullible keepers.”

—Never, never I tell you, have I ever been so insulted. I haven’t begged for a doughnut in days.

“That’s because you know there are no doughnuts in the house.”

—It’s the principle of the thing.

“Yeah, well to paraphrase another famous human maxim: when someone says it’s the principle, it’s really all about the doughnuts.”

Lewis just stares at me, then turns to attend to his water bowl.

August 8, 2008

[Editor’s Note: Aware that I’m eager to find a job, Lewis tries to leverage that knowledge to his advantage.]

—Hey, I’d hire you.

“Oh yeah?”

—Absolutely. Of course, it would help if you brought doughnuts to the interview.

“All the doughnuts are gone: we finished them yesterday.”

—You did?

“Yep. No more doughnuts in the house.”

—Oh. Well, then, forget it. You’re overqualified.

August 6, 2008

Lewis is lobbying for a doughnut.

“You know, shedding dog hair all over my computer is not the way to win friends and influence potential doughnut suppliers.”

Lewis changes tactics and tries to convince me that he is at death’s door from intense hunger and cruelly enforced doughnut deprivation. To prove he’s become deranged by starvation, he jumps up on the bed for a nap without permission. I ignore him, though, and give him a chance to reconsider. Which he does, and then quickly gets off the bed before he can be scolded.

Changing strategy again, Lewis tries to snooker me into taking him outside for a late breakfast, even though the back door is open and he must know no more food is coming. He just wants attention, presumably.

—No, just a doughnut.

“Dream on, dog; doughnuts are for humans.”

—Just one more example of the universal injustice that pervades the life of the canine species.

“Right. Would you like some achingly sad violin music to go with your whine?”

—An excellent point! How come I only get water to drink? And only two varieties? Tap and Toilet? While you live in beverage variety heaven: hot, cold, sweet, sour, carbonated, diet, etc. etc. etc.

“Zip it, dog! Until you learn to clean up your own poop, you’re on a restricted diet.”

July 29, 2008

Lewis is irked at me for not sharing even one huckleberry with him morning.

“Only pickers get to be eaters.”

—But I wasn’t given a chance to be a picker, so I should be exempt from that rule.

“You couldn’t pick berries with your paws anyway.”

—So, now it’s okay to deny the physically handicapped berries?

“You’re not handicapped, you’re . . .pawsicapped, or something.”

—Same difference, bub: you discriminate against canine Americans for no good reason other than your own greed for berries.

“My greed? Who’s the drooling black-hole-for-a-stomach who thinks every calorie in the house should be his?”

—The who who’s starved by his completely unrealistic food-handlers, that’s who. Unconscionably starved, I might add; I’m a mere shadow of my former self.

“Yeah, yeah, tell that to your lump.”

Which, I admit, kind of crossed the line, so I immediately apologized.

But Lewis just flopped down on the floor and pretended to go to sleep.