I once heard about a man who accidentally locked his wife and dog in a self-storage cubicle and left them there for four hours. When he realized what he’d done, he raced back, unlocked the door, and the dog came out wagging its tail and licking his hand. His wife – no husband will be surprised to learn – did not.
Dogs don’t blame us for anything or hold grudges, which is why we love them so much. They love us as we are and are always happy to see us. My poet friend David theorizes that angels are sent to earth as dogs to be our guardians and to demonstrate unconditional love. But the metaphor breaks down, of course, when a slobbering angel probes your crotch, takes a bite out of your buttocks, or yaps until you’re convinced Satan sent it instead.
My wife and I are blessed with the world’s only perfect dog. Kiko doesn’t bark, bite, chew up things, dig up the yard, shed excessively, go potty in the house, or tear up garbage bags looking for treats. If Jesus had had a companion animal, it would have been Kiko, for she is without sin and loves all creatures great and small.
Case in point: We sometimes dog-sit our friends’ pooch Oscar, a little terrier whose sad eyes and under-bite make him look like Marlon Brando in “The Godfather.” When The O-Dog covets something in Kiko’s bowl, he charges in front of her and wolfs it down, knowing that Kiko won’t prevent it, for, verily, she is her brother’s keeper and forgives those who trespass against her.
One would think that, as an aging virgin, Kiko’s interest in the pleasures of the flesh would have dried up. Au contraire. Four or five times a day, when one of us walks past her, she rolls over on her back and spreads ... well, everything, for she has trained us to scratch her belly. She knows that neither of us is capable of ignoring her when she is splayed out like a wanton trollop begging to be serviced. If this one quirk disqualifies her for sainthood, they should change the rules. I think Jesus would have washed her feet, particularly when she comes galumphing in on a rainy day with enough mud on her paws to pot a petunia.
We’re rookie empty-nesters, so my wife now lavishes all her nurturing instincts on Kiko. As a guy, I tend to treat her more like a dog (“her” meaning Kiko, of course), while my wife treats her more like our daughter, to the point of having rather involved “conversations” with her. While I might say, “Atta girl, get the squirrel! Good girl!” my wife will say, “Are you hungry? There’s food in your bowl. Why don’t you eat the food in your bowl? I’m not going to give you any more food until you eat what’s in your bowl. I’m tired of throwing out food, Kiko, do you understand?”
Kiko always takes the Fifth.
My wife never announces that she’ll be talking to Kiko, of course, so sometimes when she yells, “Come here, sweetie!” or “Are you thirsty?” I quickly respond ... and then feel like a dolt. This can cause domestic tension. “Are you waiting for chicken parts?” she might say. “Is that what you want, because you can’t have any more chicken parts, you had them yesterday.” If I’m, say, watching a game, my testosterone-and-beer-soaked brain might process only bits and pieces of her harangue. Ergo, I might feel challenged and get huffy, thinking, ‘What do you mean I can’t have chicken parts? I bought the damn chicken parts. I’ll have chicken parts if I want chicken parts.’ In fact, because my masculinity is apparently being threatened, I might announce, “I’m going to make myself a big, juicy chicken parts sandwich right now!”
My wife will laugh, and tell me she was talking to Kiko. And I’ll be embarrassed, because we humans aren’t always serene and don’t instantly forgive like our better little angels lying patiently at our feet waiting for a Scooby snack and a scratch.
Mack Dryden is a comedian who once house-sat and fed two dumb dogs for David Letterman. He’ll appear at the Historic State House in Elizabethtown on July 15. Call (270) 234-8258 for info.