Newsflash, girls I go out with: I don’t care about your dog. I suppose maybe I’m sending mixed signals – I do, after all, say ‘Oh, what breed is it?’ – but that’s because I’m trying to be nice and make conversation, not because I want you to pull out your iPhone and show me all 368 pictures of your dog accompanied by 368 stories about how smart he is and how he’s so protective but oh don’t worry he’ll probably warm up to you pretty quick.
Second, followup newsflash: He won’t warm up to me pretty quick, if at all. Dogs and I seem to have this understanding – I am civil and relatively friendly in spite of the fact that I generally don’t like them, and they, in return, shit in my house. I don’t care how smart or sweet or housebroken your dog is; the second we’re alone together, it’s going to take a steaming dump on the carpet and then look at me, head cocked as if to say, This is how it’s going to be, motherfucker.
When this happened with Indy, my old roommates’ dog, I chalked it up to a side effect of his being emotionally disturbed and just generally retarded, mixed in with a hint of animosity for me, the one roommate who didn’t play with him or coo to him or generally put up with his dog bullshit. It was just sort of the special relationship we had – he would soil the house when it was just the two of us there, forcing me to clean it up, and I, as I cleaned it up, would tell him in great detail about how easy it would be for me to kill him, bury the body, and then tell my roommates that he’d run away. Nobody would ever find out.
"Well, hot diggity dog. Yeah, but seriously, we're not going to investigate this case. Dog murder isn't our thing."
But at the moment, my roommate’s sister’s dog is staying with us, and in a few short days she’s proven to me that there seems to exist a state of open warfare between me and every dog on Earth. The primary weapons in this war are my profanity and the dogs’ bowels.
My roommate’s sister is a somewhat well-to-do young woman from Long Beach, so naturally her dog is a tiny fluffy white yappy terrier, small enough to hold in one hand or fit into a purse. The dog’s name is Bella.
I’m cohabiting with a small, annoying animal with a Twilight name. It’s like The Perfect Storm, except instead of a perfect storm it’s a cute little dog, which I guess makes it more like Marley and Me, only the dog and I have pretty open animosity for one another, so it’s got more of a Turner and Hooch meets Wilfred vibe, and I’m played by Jesse Eisenberg.
And then it becomes this, but it's more of a scary hotel like in 'The Shining.'
Every encounter with this creature sharpens my definition of the term ‘good for nothing.’ Bella is literally useless. She serves no purpose. There is no reason for her to be alive. If we humans were not here to take care of her, she would be dead in less than four seconds, and it’s a tossup as to whether she’d be dead from exposure, attack from other animals, or her own crippling stupidity. The only thing she can do is act cute – she’s essentially been trained to do it, because every time she does a cute thing, everybody fawns over her and gives her treats.
There were a lot of kids in elementary and middle school who reminded me of Bella – kids who were cute, and who had captivated their family with precocious babytalk, wide eyed thumb sucking, and replacing the ‘R’ sound in words with a ‘W.’ As they got older, a lot of them tried to continue this racket for as long as they could, which got pretty embarrassing for everybody once puberty started to set in.* Now all of them work in various tattoo parlors and supermarkets in Salem, and if I could send Bella to work at the Walgreens on Lancaster Boulevard, you damn bet I would.
*I had the benefit of being fat and awkward looking in my youth, which I feel was essential for my growth into an awkward looking adult.
Bella’s antics work wonders on my roommates and their friends, but recently she’s discovered that when they’re gone and it’s just me, her cuteness doesn’t go very far. Just like the 13 year olds in my math class who couldn’t talk their way out of detention by saying “Pweeeeease?”, Bella skipping around in circles and jumping up on my ankles only succeeds in pissing me off.
After my fourth or fifth ‘Get the hell off me, goddamn it, you little worthless shit!’, Bella clearly knew it was time to get tough. When I woke up the following morning, I turned on the lights in the bathroom to see several dog turds waiting for me on the bathmat. Wordlessly, I turned and looked at Bella, who was scampering back and forth in the hallway, her dark eyes gleaming.
Yeah, bitch, that’s how we do it in Long Beach! You notice how big those turds are in relation to my body? That doesn’t happen by not trying. What now!? 310 represent!
Today, hearing her incessant scampering and whining outside my room, I decided, ‘Fuck it’, and went in search of her leash* so I could take her outside just long enough to get her to shit out anything that could be used against me later.
*Bella’s leash is hot pink, which is great for me, because instead of going to the trouble of emasculating myself by not liking beer or unconsciously playing with my hair, I can just walk a tiny fluffy dog on a pink leash and get it over with quickly.
It would look exactly like this. No detail would be different except for the leash.
“Sit.” I said, holding the leash and waiting for her to be still enough so I could affix it to her collar.
Bella sat. As I knelt down to attach the leash to her, she promptly jumped up and started scampering around.
“No! Sit! Stay!”
Bella sat. I knelt down again, and again she jumped up and started prancing around. Rinse and repeat six times.
“You goddamned worthless animal!” I shouted, throwing the leash across the room as Bella continued to caper at my feet. “You know what? You win. I’m going to go in my room, shut the door, and listen to Pink Floyd until my roommate comes home to clean up your mess. So long as you don’t get your shit in my rice cooker or in my Jack Daniel’s, go nuts.”
Having just delivered an angry monologue to a small animal, I flipped her off and sequestered myself in my room. I didn’t see this as forfeiture so much as a tactical retreat – best case scenario, Bella would do so much territorial urinating on our carpet that she’d get dehydrated and die, and then I would be the winner.
The carpets have absorbed the bulk of the urine and my roommate diligently follows Bella around cleaning up that which she shreds or drags around. I ignore her and she ignores me, and I look forward to Thursday when she finally returns from whence she came.
Why, yes, since you asked – under the right circumstances, I would get a dog. Were I under house arrest at a large ranch in Vermont, I would get a Bull Terrier. Bull Terriers are good natured and resourceful animals who scientists have proven are smarter than most three year olds and virtually all business majors. If I had a large outdoorsy space and nothing to do but hang out with that dog, that’s exactly what I’d do.
If your dog doesn't look like this, you've bought the wrong type of dog.
Until then, though, I’ve decided that I’m pretty unenthusiastic about sharing my living space with any other animal, because at this point in my life the benefits of dog ownership are greatly outweighed by my unwillingness to live in or around excrement. I mean, if I really wanted to take care of another defenseless living creature with questionable bathroom habits, I’d just get a girl pregnant so I could snag a tax break and some free cigars.
Truman Capps is very much pro-dogs when he’s encountering the dogs in a neutral zone where it’s clear that the burden of the poop cleanup won’t fall on him.