November 17, 2009

[Editor’s Note: Lewis learns that She With Whom He Abides has been designated a muse.]

—Aren’t I a muse?

“You?”

—Yes. Surely I can inspire you to write poems, since I already inspire you to write barks about me.

“I suppose, though right now you’d probably be a muse for hilarious slapstick poems, jokes, and the like . . .”

— . . .

“Was that a sigh? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a dog sigh before. In fact, I didn’t know dogs could sigh.”

— . . .

“Yeah, that, is that a sigh?

— . . .

“You’ve stopped talking to me haven’t you?

— . . .

“You’re insulted?”

— . . .

“Will you stop with that sighing: it’s kind of unnerving.”

— . . .

“All right, be that way: I’m sorry: I’ll try to write an extremely dignified poem about Lewis, Defender of the Realm, Powerful Protector of the Poop Yard, Fierce Enemy of Cats, Squirrels, and Birds, Indulgent Elder of the Stupid Little Dogs. What do you think of that?”

— . . .

“Please, quit sighing.”

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November 12, 2009

“Explain something to me: why do you get so agitated about the little dogs on the east side of the house?”

—You seem to have mistaken me for a dog who gives a bark.

“C’mon, quit it: you know what I’m talking about: you get that whiny, high-pitched yelping thing going. Are they insulting you or something?”

—I do not yelp; yelping is for puppies.

“You’re in denial, bub, you practically squeak at those dogs. At first, I mistook it for your ‘I hate cats’ bark.”

—I’m not pleased with the direction this conversation is taking.

“Apparently. What do you want to talk about?”

—You’re not leaving today?

“No, it’s my day off.”

—Good. It’s too chilly out there: claws and ice do not mix.

“There wasn’t any ice, just a little frost.”

—Yeah, well, that’s how it always starts.

“True.”

—Nice chatting with you: time to practice my patented Sleeping Protection.

“Where you protect us by sleeping?”

—No, protect you WHILE sleeping.

“Oh, right, sorry.”

—You know how to be forgiven.

“Yes, but no, maybe later.”

November 6, 2009

[Editor’s Note: An inability to sleep gets this letter started at 3:30 in the morning.]

“You know, you don’t help matters by being so loud when you get up, eager to be fed several hours too early.”

—A famous dog saying: It’s never too early.

“What, too early to eat?”

—Not just that, too early to do anything, really: anything worth doing should be done now.

“How very Zen of you.”

—Zen? Phooey, everyone knows Zen ripped off dog philosophy, shamelessly and without attribution.

“No kidding?”

—No kidding: dogs are the original Zen masters, but because we’re masters, we don’t expend a lot of energy seeking credit for our wisdom.

“Or expend a lot of energy, period.”

—I could be insulted but I will not let your pettiness interfere with my oneness with the universe.

“Interesting, given your hysterical performance yesterday afternoon, yapping and yipping like a little dog at the cat next door.”

—That wasn’t about the cat.

“Oh?”

—No, it was . . . well, something like a dog political convention.

“What?”

—It’s hard to explain, but you humans had elections recently, right?

“Yes.”

—Dogs do something similar, on a smaller scale . . .

“So, you’re telling me all the yappings were political speeches?”

—Something like that.

“And what issues were you yapping about?”

—Well, dog things . . .

“Like?”

—Um, just things . . . resolutions about continued feline presence maybe . . .

“I couldn’t hear you, you began mumbling . . . did I hear the word feline?”

—Say, isn’t it close enough to 5:00?

“Quit changing the subject: I’m not feeding you for a long while.”

—But I’ve got a lot of campaigning to do today.

“No.”

—How does it feel to be an avowed enemy of a dog’s right to live free without fear of hunger?

“Is that one of your campaign planks?”

—Yes.

“If I were an avowed enemy, believe me, you’d know it; I suggest you do a little of your dog meditation, or whatever you call it.”

—Fine, but I’m doing so officially under protest.

November 2, 2009

“What’s with you this morning? You’ve been totally noisy and tail-thumping and head-shaking and making all sorts of racket.”

—Just pure excitement at having you two back from Seattle and a regular routine reestablished.

“And hopes for an early breakfast, no doubt.”

—No, no, no, no, not at all . . . not that I would have objected, mind you.

“You survived our absence without noticeable difficulties.”

—You were gone? I hardly noticed.

“You just admitted you were glad to have us back.”

—Did I? It must have slipped my mind.

“What is with you? You seem awfully distracted.”

—Me? Distracted? Whatever do you mean?

“Forget it: just be glad you don’t have to face the cold today.”

—Is it cold? I hadn’t noticed.

October 27, 2009

—Aren’t you forgetting something?

“You’ve already been fed. And I filled your water dish. And I’ve scratched your ears.”

—All true, but still, haven’t you forgotten something?

“Forgot to tell you that we’ll soon be leaving for Seattle, leaving you behind, alone, with only enough food to last a day or two?”

—Now you’re just being evil while I’m trying to be helpful.

“Which has caught me by surprise, I must admit: usually, it’s all about you and your stomach.”

—That’s it, I give up, call me when it’s biscuit time.

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry: what have I forgotten?”

—Writing down our conversation, of course. She With Whom I Abide has gone to work, you’re still here with me, we banter a bit, you know, we used to do it all the time.

“Damn! You’re right: I still haven’t gotten used to this wacky schedule I’m on. Thanks for reminding me.”

—You know how you can really thank me.

“Yeah, yeah: later. Right now I’ve got to type.”

—Say, you aren’t really going to Seattle, are you?

“You’ll know soon enough.”

October 16, 2009

—It’s exhausting, let me tell you.

“What?”

—Trying to figure out who’s going to feed me: there’s no consistency anymore, and you should know by now, after all our discussions, that the one thing dogs crave is consistency, tradition, the usual and expected repeated exactly day after day, with no variation, providing comfort and security, a regularity that leaves one feeling satisfied, calm, at peace with the often confusing and cat-filled world.

“Yeah, well, the only consistency you’re likely to get for awhile is a guarantee of inconsistency: get used to it.”

—I can’t, and you’re making me a nervous wreck.

“Sorry, but there are larger factors at work here than the needs of a single dog.”

—And this single dog simply can’t understand why.

“Can’t teach an old dog new tricks, eh?”

—You can’t teach younger dogs either, or any dogs, for that matter: occasionally we do things for you just to get you out of our hair, so to speak, and for our own amusement as we watch your goofy delight at our performances.

“I’d dispute that, but I can see that it is important for your self-esteem to believe your version.”

—Don’t patronize me, just hand me a biscuit and I’ll forget everything.

“What? Forget what?”

—Your endless cruelty, for one thing.

“Give me a break . . .”

—I will for a small price.

October 12, 2009

“You’re beginning to worry us.”

—What?

“How slowly you climb stairs these days: it looks like you’re in pain or something.”

—No, it’s just lack of energy: years of chronic underfeeding have finally taken their toll and my undernourished body simply can’t do what it used to do.

“So, no need to worry?”

—Haven’t you been listening? I’m starving here, my muscles are atrophying, my bones are becoming brittle, my very life is hanging by the thinnest of threads.

“All right. Well, if any thing does happen, be sure to let us know, okay?”

—Are you deaf?

“What?”

October 7, 2009

“Say, you know anything about being awakened by loud tail thumps on the wall?”

—No, can’t say that’s ever happened to me.

“Because it happened to me! This morning! Thanks for nothing sleep-disturbing animal!”

—I was lonely.

“Are you sure you weren’t trying to trick me into feeding you again?”

—No, I saw She With Whom I Abide write one of those infernal notes and I presumed she told you the sordid story of my should-be-illegal underfeeding.

“And you were right.”

—No need to rub it in.

“But wait, you were lonely? All you do is sleep, and I was sleeping . . . why couldn’t you sleep while I was sleeping?

—And leave the house unprotected by a watchful eye?

“C’mon, you’re claiming—again—that you’re wide awake every minute you’re left alone?”

—Well, there are different levels of being awake: the canine species has cultivated at least 37 distinct forms of alertness, many of which would appear to be sleeping to the untrained human eye.

“I see, or rather, I guess I don’t, right?”

—Indeed.

“And now you want to go out?”

—Ears scratched first, please.

“And then you’ll want to be let back in almost immediately?”

—It’s about time you finally figured out my routine.

September 21, 2009

“My, aren’t you the needy one today: you just can’t rest sticking your schnoz into my crotch.”

—Just being neighborly.

“So that’s what you call it.”

—Simple friendliness.

“No anxiety about me slipping out the front door after depositing you in the back yard?”

—Nope, not at all.

“Right.”

—Um, you aren’t about to slip out, are you?

“Not immediately, no.”

—But later?

“Possibly, and if so, I’m going to try an old trick.”

—And that is . . .?

“Getting you out the back door without have to bribe you with a biscuit.”

—Hmph. Good luck with that.

“Ooooo, the defiant dog is back: no more friendliness—hey! watch it! you almost pulled my computer off the desk! Uwrap your paw from the power cord, you doofus!”

September 17, 2009

“I’ve probably asked you about this before, but what’s the deal with the next door little dogs and the cats they live with?”

—. . .

“Did you hear what I asked you?”

—. . .

“Don’t like talking about the cats, do you?”

—Not particularly.

“What does Mikey say about the cats?”

—A bunch of crap, mostly. Let’s just say that living with cats has merely magnified and exacerbated his Little Dog Complex. He talks big, but my guess is that he doesn’t mess with them.

“Yeah, they’re bigger than he is anyway. And cats don’t need to be big: I saw a kitten claw a full-grown, half-Huskie mutt right on the nose once and that dog gave up the fight immediately.”

—Please, I’d rather not hear your tall tales about cats.

“Tall tales? Are you suggesting that my story isn’t factual?”

—A kitten vs. a full-grown dog? I don’t think so.

“You might not want to think so, but it’s true: happened in Alaska, in the late 60s.”

—Whatever . . . can we please stop talking about this? I’ve got a busy day ahead of me.

“Right: nap number one coming up.”