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Puppy love

Getting attached to man's best friend


Nothing like stumbling over a dead puppy to dick up your day, so thank God that didn't happen, but almost.

First, the puppy is not really a puppy, but one of those perpetual-puppy type dogs, one of those furry button-cute kinda pets with long ears covered in curly fleece and legs that are the canine equivalent to the Budweiser Clydesdales. This is the kind of dog an ex-boyfriend of mine used to refer to as a "pussy pet." If this guy saw this dog, he would smirk dismissively in his Brazilian accent, "You cannot throw that dog against the wall," because, to him, the inability to be thrown against the wall and emerge unfazed was a grievous shortcoming in an animal.

So you cannot throw this dog against the wall. I'm supposing. I really don't know. I've never had a pussy-pet dog. Once I temporarily inherited two bald-butted Labradors named Gracie and Amber. They were sisters, and both of them were the most comical, slobbery, eye-booger encrusted, walking wads of psoriasis you ever saw. Having birthed three litters, they each had hefty leftover dugs that dangled from their underbellies like big balls of soft warm dough. Amber had a problem with her left ear, too, which occasionally swelled up like an eggplant and stuck straight out from her skull, making her look like she had a furry party balloon taped to her head. And they also had some kind of skin allergy that, for some reason, caused them to chew all the hair off their hind parts. The eye-catching result was that they both sported big shiny red baboon asses. God, I loved them, and I still miss them, too, even though I could never get Amber's ear to go down.

Today I have Cookie, an incontinent pit bull with a deformed tail that reminds me of a carrot that grew through a crack in the sidewalk. She is routinely so happy to see visitors that she'll squat right there and pee at their feet. Believe it or not, that's a step up from when she was a puppy and people thought she was undisciplined just because, given the chance, she would chew on their skulls. My friend Michael, who is 6 feet 7 inches tall, was amazed to find her teeth in his head all the time.

So I don't know what to make of this new dog I found wandering on Moreland Avenue near Oakland Cemetery. He was about to be made into a furry piece of street pizza by a passing semi when I rescued him. And this is no stray. Someone had obviously loved this animal, probably brushing his black spaniel hair every night and now wondering what happened to him. He wore a green collar, and his blue nylon leash was broken and it looked like he'd been lost for a while. He was sporting a layer of dirt that didn't look customary on him. I brought him home and cleaned him up and discovered that he is as mellow as a monk, not even getting spooked by my big cat, Lucille, who is 15 years old and missing her upper teeth but can still kick any dog's ass that I've ever seen, even (and probably especially) Cookie's. I started calling the new dog Scooter because that is what I call all cute things whose names I don't know, including small children.

I'm requesting that Scooter's owner please come forward before I get attached. He is already starting to remind me of a black dog my father brought home when I was 7. We named her Bonnie, and she was quite a slut, but I loved her anyway. I remember I was sent to fetch her one morning and found her getting humped on by a neighborhood mutt. I had no idea what the hell was happening, so I set about trying to pull them apart. I did not know, nor should I have, that dogs get stuck when they're fucking, that's part of the whole procreation process for them or something. So I could not separate them, the most I could do was turn the mutt around so he was facing the other way and not actually on top of Bonnie. But all that accomplished was to turn them into a freakish set of whining Siamese dog twins fused at the ass.

So the only thing I could do at that point was to sit on the curb beside them and commence wailing. I mean, here my Bonnie was stuck to another dog, probably permanently as far as I knew, and now I'd have to bring this mutant double-dog monster back home and try to explain it to my dad. So I sat there and sobbed, occasionally shouting to the mutt, "Get off Bonnie!" but he just looked at me like he was extremely uncomfortable and stayed stuck.

Eventually a long-haired man emerged from the house across the street and rescued me. He was barefoot and bare-chested, probably fresh from being rousted out of bed. He carried a bucket of water and threw it on the dogs, which made them pop apart like a Tupperware set. The man was laughing so hard I couldn't make out what he was saying. Something to do with the dogs being "attached" or "attachment" or whatever, and how I was supposed to make sure it didn't happen again. But his words went unheeded, because a few months later Bonnie had her puppies and I got attached anyway.

Hollis Gillespie's commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered." To hear the latest, go to Moodswing at

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