I Got Nothin' to Be Sorry About, By Lewis the Beagle


Lewis the Beagle here, and the time for atonement is upon us, at least if you're Jewish like the humans who live in my house.

It starts with this amazing smelling dinner that my humans call "Ruff Hash Onions". The name is a bit perplexing in that the meal appears to involve neither "hash" nor "onions". On the other hand, there's no denying it's "ruff", at least for me -- in that I'm not "invited" to partake. Note the quotes around "invited". We'll talk about that later.

(Also, please note that I no longer refer to myself as "Lewis the Bagle" as it is my understanding that it is no longer politically correct to do so, thanks to an incident involving MIley Cyrus, a foam finger and an attempt to appropriate the trademark howl of my brethren.)

Anywhooo, it's all good until "Yummy Kippers", which my humans usher in with a horrific and senseless game of survival, which they call "fasting". But don't let the name fool you. "Fasting" is nothing more than a euphemism for "not eating" all day long. Yes, you heard that right. Not eating. All. Day. Long. But it gets even worse from there. At the end of the day, they eat breakfast, and it doesn't even include bacon. Breakfast without bacon? Oh, the humanity.

In between are a whole lot of days in which nothing interesting is happening on the dinner table, although it's hard to say just how many days, since as a dog, I have no sense of time whatsoever. But apparently, those are the days on which most of the atoning gets done.

This year, I started thinking that maybe I should jump on the bandwagon and get into the whole atonement thing. If I'm being honest, my thinking was that it seems to be the ticket to the dinner table. Then the ugly truth hit me: Atonement is inherently biased against dogs.

First of all, atonement requires introspection. And while I may look extremely intelligent, the truth is, I'm a dog. Don't get me wrong, I spend most of my waking hours thinking. But what I'm thinking about is food. Specifically, I'm thinking about how to get you to give me food. Or I'm thinking about how to help myself to your food when you're not looking. Whether or not that counts as "introspection" is something you'd have to take up with your rabbi. But somehow, it strikes me as getting off on the wrong paw.

Atonement also requires acknowledgement of wrong-doing. And while my ancestors - the esteemed Beagles and Bassets - practically invented the sad-dog look, and while I personally know a thing or two about how to drag my tail between my legs, the truth is: I'm a dog. So nothing I do is wrong. Everything I do is not only adorable but engineered to be super-awesomely helpful.

For example, I am aware of how it supposedly "inconveniences" my humans when I jump onto the table and help myself to their food without an invitation. But what they don't understand is that I am doing it for their benefit. You see, my humans could learn a thing or two about table manners. First of all, one word: "utensils". Why the euphemism? Call it what it is: "playing with your food". Then there's all the chewing. I love the humans that live with me, but may I just say "gross"? Food is meant to be swallowed whole, people. Teeth aren't for food - they're for shoes. Get it straight before you go out into the world and embarrass yourselves.

Here's another example: that time that I pissed myself when I saw a mouse in the mudroom. And by "pissed myself", I mean "pissed all over the mudroom". Now, I don't recall my humans handing out any belly rubs or even any who's-a-good-boy's. And I gather that means that they would consider this wrong-doing on my part. But it was meant to keep the mouse away. I mark my territory, mouse gone. Get it? Obviously. Look, I love my humans with all my heartworm pills, but perhaps a little gratitude would be in order? Certainly, there is no wrongdoing to acknowledge in this case.

And then there's this so-called "stealing" of food that I supposedly do every single chance I get. I don't steal food. I'm merely trying to be independent. I'm merely trying to take the burden off of my humans so that they can get back to doing what they do best - making money to buy food, buying food, making food (notice how I didn't say "eating" food - as I pointed out, they could use some pointers from me). Where is the wrongdoing?

Plus, isn't it helpful that I don't demand that my humans cook the oatmeal before I eat it? Isn't it helpful that I only drink out of the toilet? Less work for them, I'm thinking. But, if I'm guessing right, these are the sort of things that my humans might expect me to "think about" and about which they might wish to have me "acknowledge wrongdoing".

Is it wrong for me to nose my way into the trashcan under the sink and forage for bubble gum? Where do they think that bubble gum goes after its been chewed? Landfills? Hello, environmental responsibility? I chew the gum, I throw it up on the carpet, and I chew it again. By the time I'm through with it, it's practically compost.

And if there's no wrongdoing, how can I promise never to do it again? Atonement requires that too. If what I'm doing is wrong, then I don't want to be right. My humans need my help. It would be be a lie for me to say otherwise. And by D-g, I'm not going to lie (except on the really comfy chaise lounge that my humans bought so that I could watch SportsCenter with my brothers in the family room). If it's a choice between atoning for the sake of getting an invitation to the dinner table on the Jewish Holidays, or being my authentic, helpful, adorable self, I'll take the latter.

And then I'll jump on the table when they're not looking.

Shana Tova, humans!