by Roger White
Let me tell you a story. By sharing this story I know that I will feel much better. I’m not sure if you’ll feel better after reading it, but that’s not really my concern. I desperately need to tell it.
These good friends of mine, you see, have this dilemma. They own this scruffy, smiley dog, with the obligatory cute puppy dog eyes. For the most part, he’s well-behaved and has even learned to do some pretty good tricks. But this mutt is a bit of a problem pooch.
They’ve had this dog since about 2004, when they picked him up from eastern Illinois. The little guy showed lots of promise, and he was lively. He’s always been lively and entertaining, scrambling around, causing havoc and fun. But they trained him well—or so they thought. The pup began showing signs of misbehaving terribly, however, at the worst possible times. One cold January in 2007, for example, when my friends were visiting in Seattle, the little fellah did some very smelly business in a most public of places. My friends were mortified and went home in shame.
Back home in Irving, my friends seemed pleased with the pooch as time went by—until almost exactly a year later. It was another cold January, in 2008, as my friends were hosting a bunch of folks from New York, when the dizzy dog did it again. Another stinker. It was yet another humiliation for my good friends.
In 2009, my friends built a new place in Arlington—and this place included a fantastic area where this dog could play. It turns out that this is one of the fanciest places for a dog to play anywhere! They hoped this might improve his behavior. It didn’t. A discouraging pattern began to emerge: Whenever my friends needed this schizophrenic hound to be on his best behavior, he would almost certainly stink up the place. In December 2008 while visiting in Philadelphia, in January 2010 in Minnesota, in December 2011 visiting those same folks in New York—no matter where they took this maddening mutt, he always managed to do exactly the wrong thing at precisely the wrong time, turning what could have been an enjoyable time into a disaster.
A most recent incident may have been the backbreaker, however. While on a nice visit to Washington, D.C., this past December, my good friends were stunned when this confounding canine did it again—right there in the nation’s capital. More smelly awfulness.
Perhaps it has something to do with winter or cold weather. It could be something about public places, being with a lot of people. Who knows? The head-scratching part of this whole ordeal is that the little guy has generally been a good dog. In fact, my friends actually say that this particular pooch has more impressive tricks, statistically speaking, than any other dog they’ve owned. And they really like him; it’s just that his behavior at certain times sends them right up the wall.
And I must say, it’s done the very same to me, as well. I’ve watched this little guy’s antics over the years, and he’s just about given me an ulcer. You see, I’ve been close to these friends for a long, long time. You might even say I’m a fan of theirs. I’ve appreciated them ever since I can remember. They’re proud folks, but they have plenty to be proud of—with a history and tradition of great achievement. They have screwed up royally at times, and the current patriarch can be a bit goofy, but they’re old friends, so what can I say?
I know it has to be difficult for little Tony the mutt. My friends keep comparing him to previous pooches, such as Troy the terrier and Roger the rottweiler, who were fine, fine animals.
The gist of the whole story, I guess, is that my good friends could very well be at a watershed moment here. Do they keep Tony the dog and pray he stops smelling up the place at the worst possible times—or do they find a new pup and hope he has a better pedigree? What would you do?
Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.