by Frances Edstrom
“I don’t think I like this New Year thing,” said the dog-who-must-not-be-written-about II.
“It doesn’t look to me as though a new year makes much of a difference in your life,” I said. “You still chew the kids’ toys, sleep all day, sniff crotches, and bother me to play fetch. So what’s not to like?”
“You took away the snow. I was just getting to like it,” he said.
“I didn’t take the snow away. It got warm and melted away,” I told him.
“But where is it? Will it come back?” he wanted to know.
“You can be sure it will snow again,” I told him. “After all, this is just barely January, and we have a good three more months of possible snow.”
“Well, good. But where did my old snow melt away to? I’ve looked everywhere, and I can’t find where all that white stuff is.”
“When snow melts it becomes water, and it might soak into the ground, or find a crevice and run down it until it gets to a stream, then a river, and I suppose the ocean. And some of it evaporates into the air,” I said, trying to remember my third grade science lesson.
“But where did the color white go?” he asked.
“Oh, Google it,” I replied. Third grade was a long time ago. “But for now, get outside and play before I have to leave. And when you come back in, you are to go directly to the pantry so I can clean your feet.”
“You never clean John’s feet when he comes in,” he pointed out. I let that one go.
“So what else happens in a new year?” he asked. “Snow goes away…”
“Not always,” I said. “That is just a coincidence. It doesn’t happen every new year.”
“Wait a minute! There’s more than one new year?” he asked. “Why haven’t I been told about this before now?”
“You weren’t around for the last new year,” I explained.
“Where was I? I remember my mother, but she would have told me if there had been a new year. I know she would have. I have no memory of life before that! I thought you were my first humans!” he yipped, quite upset.
“Relax,” I said, trying to be soothing. “You weren’t born yet when we had the last new year. You didn’t exist!”
“Wow!” he said. “Weren’t you lonely without me?”
“Well, we had Max,” I said. “Then he got sick and died, so we got you, because we missed having a dog in our lives.” I thought it best not to add that I have had serious misgivings since, as I had forgotten how much I like dogs and dislike puppies.
“So now Max doesn’t exist?” he asked.
“Except in our memories,” I said.
“Did I exist in your memory before I got here?” he wanted to know.
“Um, no. Because you hadn’t existed at all yet.”
“So,” he said, retrieving his chew toy. “Dogs are white.”
“You are black,” I said.
“No, no! I mean we’re like the color white on snow. We exist, and then we melt away.”
“Er…” I started. “I think there’s a good reason dogs are not philosophers.”
“I hope there aren’t too many of these new years,” he said. “It’s too frightening!”
“I am hoping for quite a few more,” I said. And next time, I added to myself, I am just not going to mention it to good old DWMNBWA II.