by Frances Edstrom
The dog-who-must-not-be-written-about was snoozing on the carpet in front of the gas fireplace. He looked so comfortable I had the irresistible urge to wake him up. I’d spent the last ten minutes cleaning up after his foray into the kitchen garbage bag, which I had left unattended for a moment, and I wasn’t feeling very kindly toward him.
“Hey,” I said loudly. His ear twitched, but he slept on.
“Look at the pretty kitty!” I said. He started barking before he had opened his eyes. He jumped to his feet, and ran to the window that looks out on the bird feeder, under which the neighbor’s cat likes to sit.
“Gotcha!” I said, giggling.
“That was so funny I forgot to laugh,” he said.
“Well, it was fun for me, Mr. Garbage Man,” I said. “So far the most fun I’ve had today.”
He circled around and flopped down on the carpet again, prepared to get some much-needed shut-eye if he was going to get his full 20 hours of sleep for the day. But I wanted more fun.
“So,” I said, “I read an interesting article about dog behavior.”
“I imagine,” he said, “that you are going to bring up that ridiculous study humans did on the elimination habits of dogs, that we supposedly face north when we, um, go.”
“That’s exactly what I had in mind,” I said. “I’ve been keeping an eye on you.”
“And what did you find, pray tell. And make it quick, I want to take a nap.”
“You are apparently not the typical dog,” I said.
“Brilliant, Sherlock! Are you telling me you ever entertained the thought that I am typical?” he said haughtily.
“You don’t face north. How do you decide which way to face?” I asked.
“How do you decide?” he retorted. “I guess I face the way the toilet faces,” I said. “I’ve never given it much thought.”
“Very few humans give anything much thought,” he said. “At least dogs who face north when they eliminate have given it some thought. I question, however, the ‘scientists’ who spent some ridiculous amount of time watching dogs poop. My theory is that those dogs were in some sort of enclosure, and the only interesting thing to look at was north of the fence. A squirrel nest, something of that nature.”
“Do you look at squirrel nests?” I asked.
“Sometimes. Sometimes I keep an eye on the deer trail to see if that pesky doe comes through, especially when she comes with the miniature deer.”
“Those are her babies,” I said.
“Kind of large for babies, but that’s not the point. Other times I face toward the lumberjack, so I don’t accidentally get in the way of a falling tree. In the summer, I watch the cows across the road. It just depends on what’s going on.”
“Well, thanks for clearing that up,” I said.
“Humans make things so unnecessarily complicated,” he continued. “Toilets all over the house, all those toilet accessories. . . crazy!”
“Oh, Charybdis!” he said. “All those rolls of paper, brushes, chemicals, air fresheners, and I haven’t even mentioned the toilet digger.”
“That sounds disgusting!” I said. “What on earth is that?”
“The guy who comes when one of the urchins throws something big in the toilet,” he said.
“Oh, the plumber!”
“If you say so,” he said. “Much too complicated. You should do what we dogs do, make it quick and simple.”
“And who would clean up after us, if I may ask?” I said, getting a little testy.
“The magic pooper scooper,” he said. “It comes when you’re sleeping, and in the morning everything is clean and tidy again. So simple.”
“Simple,” I said, defeated. I wondered why I even have a dog.