October 20, 2008

—Instead of fussing around with your effete poetry projects, you should be worrying about finishing my bark: your priorities need some adjusting.

“Getting a bit pushy for someone who couldn’t type a word even if the keyboard was made from kibble.”

—A kibble keyboard? That makes no sense at all.

“Exactly. Because you’d simply devour the thing, thereby completely hampering your ability to compose anything.”

—What are you saying?

“That you should be a little less officious and a tad more deferential to the person who is helping bring your voice to the masses. We’re a team, but I don’t recall any one making you the coach.”

Lewis doesn’t respond for a long time, but I can tell he’s struggling with the urge to lord it over me. Finally . . .

—Do they really make keyboards out of kibble?

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October 15, 2008

—I didn’t appreciate you joking this morning with She With Whom I Abide about me getting laid off. I’m ailing somewhat, as you know, but I’ve served this household faithfully for many years, which is even more in dog years.

“That was a good joke.”

—Yes, I can keep my sense of humor, even in the face of insults.

“Hey, I was just kidding, no one’s going to get rid of you. You’re way too important. And besides, you don’t cost that much, unless you factor in all the time required to pick up your poop.”

—Again with the insults. As if it’s my fault I’m trapped behind a fence!

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry. Geez, a little sensitive today aren’t we?”

—You would be, too, if you were told that you wouldn’t be allowed to sleep with the rest of the pack ever again.

“Look there’s just not enough room in the bed for everybody, and since you have such a nice alternative bed . . .”

—If it’s so nice, why don’t you sleep on it once in a while?

“It’s too small for me, it’s just the right size for you.”

—I suppose. Still, it’s kind of humiliating getting used to being invited to the pack bed and then later, for no reason, to be ignominiously exiled.

“I understand, but that doesn’t mean you’re any less important.”

—Truly?

“Absolutely: you’re an indispensable member of the pack, of the household . . . unless dog food prices really start to escalate, of course . . . then we might have to reconsider . . .”

—Hey! Hey! Enough already.

“Sorry. It won’t happen again.”

—It better not.

October 14, 2008

“So, you tried to trick me this morning and make me feed you again?”

Lewis does not respond.

“Good thing I read the note from She With Whom You Abide warning me against such shenanigans.”

Lewis mumbles something that I can’t understand.

“What? What was that?”

—Nothing. Just a canine curse damning that wretched writing you humans use to deprive dogs of all they deserve.

“Like two breakfasts?”

—Among other things.

“That wretched writing is helping save all our conversations for that book you’re so eager to finish.”

—True, but when it prevents me from eating, I find it difficult to admire or appreciate.

November 26, 2008

[Editor’s Note: In honor of Thanksgiving, the usual sequence of  The Lewis Letters will be interrupted to bring you this special holiday memory. Regularly scheduled blog programming will return tomorrow.]

“And what are you thankful for, Lewis?”

—That soon I might be able to finagle turkey scraps and stuffing fragments.

“Always about the stomach for you, eh?”

—C’mon, give me a break. Even you humans recognize that Thanksgiving is mostly about the food. Besides, stomachs are very important.

“Undoubtedly.”

—A wise dog once told a story about how the other parts of the body got upset at the stomach because it just sat there and didn’t seem to do anything, so they stopped feeding it, and then, what do you know, they all suffered.

“A wise dog told that story?”

—Yes.

“Sounds very familiar, similar to a fable I’ve heard before.”

—Probably you humans stole the story from us: you do that all the time.

“We do not. Most of us can’t even understand canine creatures.”

—Which makes one wonder how we can have such stimulating conversations . . . it certainly can’t be because you’re smarter than average . . .

“Hey! Are insults a good way to celebrate Thanksgiving?”

—I suppose not . . . so, when’s the turkey going in the oven?

“You’ll just have to wait and see.”

October 13, 2008

“The other day, when you asked whether I was a cat sympathizer, it had sort of an ominous tone.”

—It should: being a cat-sympathizer is about the worst thing anyone can be (other than actually being a cat, of course). But I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt which is why I used the word ‘sympathizer’ and not <at this point, Lewis gives a short bark that begins and ends with a throaty growl>.

“And what does that mean?”

—The short version would be ‘cat-lover,’ but a more accurate translation would probably be something like: ‘scentless mate of a skunk and spineless slave to a foul wretched beast with inscrutable eyes of evil that sleeps on your face and sucks the breath out of you as though you were a helpless, innocent infant, then kills you after making you forget to feed your loving dog enough biscuits.’

“Wow, that’s a lot for such a short bark.”

—It’s all in the inflection.

“Ah. I’m a little puzzled by that last part about the biscuits, as not many ‘cat-lovers’ would also have a relationship with a dog.”

—I may have embellished the translation just a little, but basically it’s accurate.

“So, am I hearing that you don’t get enough biscuits?”

—No, no, no. It’s more like ALL dogs aren’t getting enough biscuits, not just me.

“Right. What about the ‘scentless mate of a skunk’ part?”

—As far as we’re concerned, the canine community, that is, the worst thing in the world is to not have any smell, unless it’s smelling like a skunk, which is about the only smell we find objectionable: thus, the combination of the two is particularly insulting.

“I can see that. You once told me that little dogs are idiots; are cat-lovers worse than little dogs?”

—Absolutely! Little dogs are just idiots, but cat-lovers are traitors to the pack. Little dogs are still dogs, but cat-lovers are like . . . un-dogs or non-dogs, very, very bad.

“I see . . . I sure wouldn’t want to be one of those, then.”

—No, it would be most unfortunate.

October 10, 2008

“You’re going out earlier today, my dear Lewis.”

—What?

“Yeah, in about 10 minutes.”

—Come on, it’s cold out there.

“I know, but I’m taking a long trip out to the valley and I need you to guard the back yard. Oh, and watch out for the holes.”

—How come you guys get to dig holes, but I get in trouble if I dig holes?

“Because our holes have a purpose, yours are simply destructive and pointless.”

—My holes have a point.

“And that point is?”

—It’s classified.

“Classified?”

—Top secret dog intelligence.

“Playing with oxymorons again?”

—Ha, ha. But just trust me, there are some things it would be better that you did not know.

“And one of those things is why you dig holes?”

—Yes.

“I find that hard to believe.”

—You wouldn’t by any chance be a cat sympathizer, would you?

“And what if I were?”

—Even more reason not to explain my hole-digging. We have to be careful in these dangerous times.

“You’re beginning to sound like the Bush White House: be afraid, be very afraid.”

—If only . . . if only . . . the terror I have to deal with. . . . Let’s just say, again, you don’t want to know.

“All the more reason, then, for you to go outside.”

—Wait, no, that’s not what I meant . . .

October 8, 2008

—How’s my bark coming along?

“Your bark?”

—Yes, the bark you’re helping me compose about our morning conversations.

“Oh, the book . . . wait, I’m helping you? I was under the impression that I was doing most of the work.”

—Think what you want, but if you were honest you’d admit that you’re merely a shadowbarker.

“Shadowbarker?”

—It’s similar to a ghostwriter, but with less responsibility.

“I see.”

—You’re still important, don’t misunderstand me, but we both know who the principle creator is.

“Well, I’m certainly glad you cleared that up.”

—You’re welcome . . . now, how’s it going?

“You tell me, O Principle Creator.”

—I’d say it has to be going extremely well, given all the fabulous ideas I generate for you to use . . . I’m just a little worried that you aren’t getting them . . . um . . . finalized fast enough.

“It would certainly help matters if you didn’t screw up every photo I’ve tried to take.”

—What do you mean?

“You can’t seem to be able to hold a pose; you’re always walking toward the camera instead of staying still.”

—Oh, so those photos are for the bark?

“For the book, yes. I’m not sure you would be able to transmit photos by barking.”

—True. Okay, I’ll try to be less restless.

October 7, 2008

“Hey Lewis, what’s with the teeth-on-toes action in the morning these days?

—Whatever do you mean?

“You know what I’m talking about. You’re not just licking my toes when you do your morning hoppy dance before breakfast, you’re nipping my toes.”

—Unequivocally and firmly and without hesitation, I deny that: I do not bite the toes that feed me . . . get it?

“Yeah, hilarious, you’re a real Henny Dogman—but come on, I’ve definitely felt your teeth on my toes.”

—If so, and I stoutly and without reservation refuse to admit to such a possibility . . . it would be accidental, pure and simple.

“Once would be an accident, maybe twice, but I’ve been getting nipped every morning now for over a week.”

—Do you feel no guilt over your obviously egregious and outrageous exaggerations? Let me state categorically: I do not bite, nip, nibble, chew, masticate, or otherwise grab with a vise-like-grip-that-rends-the-flesh your toes with my canine canines . . .

“Methinks the dog doth protest too much . . .”

—. . . but, if what you claim has happened, actually happened, though inadvertently, mind you, if I did, somehow, slightly, almost imperceptibly, and with the lightness of a tiny wisp of goose down brushing against an eyelash that has fallen undetected upon your forearm, actually grazed your precious wittle toesies with my small, and extremely dull teeth, rest assured there was no direct intention behind such an alleged act, rather it would be merely incidental, brought on by the excitement of the morning reverie.

“ . . . “

—Aren’t you going to retort with some of your biting human sarcasm . . . biting, get it?

“You’ve stupefied me with excess verbiage. Just watch the teeth from now on, okay?”

—You have my word.

“I’ve had too many of your words today: actions speak louder, got it?”

—No morning teeth. Got it . . . is it time for a biscuit yet?

October 6, 2008

Lewis is miffed that we were able to find chanterelles without his help. He was hoping we’d be skunked again and that his claim to be a shroom hound would get more attention next time.

—I’m certain you would have found many many more with my assistance.

“Assuming we could have found you finding them; as I’ve noted before, without a doubt you’d have been bounding off chasing squirrels or zipping from one pile of moose droppings to the next. Your dedication to mushrooming is extremely suspect: you don’t even like chasing balls we throw for you.”

—That’s different: I’m a working dog: give me a task and I’m on it like . . . like white on rice, or whatever you bipeds say.

“Ever hear of brown rice?”

—See, that’s what I’m talking about: you complain about my supposed lack of concentration and yet you mouth all these inconsistent platitudes that finally just don’t make sense.

“What? Talk about making sense: you’re a ‘working’ dog now? A sleeping dog, maybe but working? It is to laugh.”

—You’ve just failed to take full advantage of all my talents.

“And for that I deeply apologize . . . and then snort with suppressed hilarity.”

—Sometimes, I don’t know why I bother.

October 3, 2008

Lewis wants you to know that he, too, sympathizes with the workday travails of She With Whom He Abides, and as a result he will be an even more faithful, loving, and loyal dog than ever before.

“So, you’ll be cutting down on the whining?”

—I don’t whine, puppies whine.

“Sounds like whining to me, oh Venerable One.”

—I prefer to think of such moments as expressive vocalizations of need and desire.

“Well, that makes a huge difference. You’re a regular Dog King of Euphemism.”

—I prefer to see it as precise description informed by exacting methods of specification analysis.

“Call it what you want, whiner: none of this bagel will be making a detour, via an arc-like trajectory, to your interactive canine digestive tract despite all your expressive vocalizations of need and desire.”