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Dog Ownership Advice -- From a Dog!

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The author at work.

Arf! Man's best friend, here, with some advice on dog ownership. Okay, I'll admit I'm a bit nervous, as this is my first essay, though I've dabbled in limmericks and knock-knock jokes. But I think this is important information, so it's kind of a public service. Besides, I was bribed with some leftover chicken, and for leftover chicken, I'd sell my mother--hell, I'd sell your mother.

Anyway, I'll keep it short, because I realize humans are busy. You should know, however, that dogs are busy, too. So many butts to sniff, so little time. And we dogs don't live as long as you humans, so we like to make the most of every moment. Granted, most moments we're either sleeping in the sunlight or licking ourselves. But if you could get away with that for the bulk of your daily schedule, wouldn't you? That's what I thought.

I believe it was Rin-Tin-Tin who once said, "Bark and the world barks with you; howl and you howl alone." Although I haven't the foggiest idea what he meant, it sounds impressive and I wanted to start out with a classy quote. It was a toss-up between that, and Old Yeller's "Let he who is without mange, chew the first bone."

The first question a prospective dog owner needs to ask is, "Am I really willing to do what it takes to be a good dog owner?" And by "do what it takes," I mean, of course, letting your dog run free, feeding him expensive cuts of meat, and making sure he has easy access to female dogs who've not yet been fixed. Ah, memories... But I digress.

Once you've made the decision to become a dog owner, the most important thing to remember is that dogs and humans are very much alike. And I'm not just talking about people who look like dogs--although they have always been a great source of amusement to us. Especially Broderick Crawford and Winston Churchill. But I digress.

I mean our hopes and fears and desires are the same. We all want and need food. Sure, when you humans run out of food, you go to the store and get more, rather than start gnawing on part of your house, but the desire is the same. And, to be fair, one of my friends once saw Rosie O'Donnell gnawing on one of her shutters.

We also get lonely, just like you do. You cope with it by going out and having a meaningless string of affairs to validate your sexuality and keep death at bay. We cope with it by doing a lot of whining and some more gnawing on part of the house. Especially that one bottom wood slat, which by now is getting really tender from marinating in drool all day. Yum.

And, please, when we're lonely, play with us. Don't assume that just because you leave us inside with the TV turned on, we'll be okay. We get tired of watching daytime talk shows, too. Especially the one that dealt with Bullimic Drill Instructors And The Mothers Who Still Love Them. Oh, please!

Speaking of playing with us, we love doing tricks. But how about some variety? I mean sitting, rolling over, and fetching a stick can be amusing--to Forrest Gump, maybe. But after about eight minutes of it, we invariably begin rubbing our butts against the nearest fence, just to relieve the boredom--an activity, which, by the way, I recommend in and of itself as a superb tension-reliever. Think of it as Canine Yoga.

The point, here, is--give us some challenging tricks. We can follow instructions longer than one word. So instead of telling us "Fetch!", tell us "Dig up that tomato plant, chew it up beyond recognition, and scatter it throughout the yard!" Trust me, we're up for the challenge. I've done it many, many times.

Which brings us to my next point, and it's a biggie: Never hit us. We don't like it. Okay, most of us don't like it. I do know one Schnauzer who does like being whacked and insulted in German while she wears a halter top and three-inch heels, but she has a number of other emotional problems she's currently working through in Freudian Canine Therapy.

One of the things we like the most is the privilege of being able to sleep on the floor in your bedroom with you. This allows us to giggle at the sight of humans having sex, (an endless source of amusement) and to enjoy an extended period of time with your scent. Most of you do smell pretty good. But for those of you who don't, here's a news flash--it's called a shower. Eau de Roadkill is not our favorite fragrance.

Well, I hope this has been helpful. I'd like to spend one day as a human, to get a better fix on your perspective. If I could, I'd spend it as Joe Pesci. Why? I just like his style, and he reminds me of this Beagle I knew in Bakersfield. Besides, he's little and people respect him. I can relate to that. Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a part of the house that's been marinating all day in drool, and it's got my name on it. See ya.

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