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Happy New Years can be stressful (01/02/2011)
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. 


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