"Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war...."
-- Julius Caesar

"Life...is a tale...full of sound and fury...."
-- Macbeth

"No woman can be too rich or too thin."
-- Wallis Simpson

"Let them eat cake."
-- Somebody, but not Marie Antoinette

Monday, August 9, 2010


Penelope: Do you think that Roomba dreams? What would he dream of?

Electric sheep?

Roomba: You better get out of the way tomorrow, Big Dog.

Penelope, Duncan, and Baby Cousin See "Inception"

Baby Cousin: I don’t get it.

Penelope: I don’t either. I got lost after they went for the ride in the car.

Duncan: It’s about memories. And dreams.

Baby Cousin:
What are those?

Duncan: Well, memories are like, when you remember things. Like I remember where the Lady Who Dotes keeps the leashes. And I remember what time of day she takes us for walks.

Baby Cousin: I’m still lost.

Penelope: Wait, I think I’m getting it. So, it’s like when we go for a ride in the car and I know that we’re going to Grandma/Grandpa’s house because the car turns at a certain place and it’s the same place that we have always turned to go to Grandma/Grandpa’s.

Duncan: Yes.

Baby Cousin: Who are Grandma and Grandpa?

Penelope: You see them all the time.

Baby Cousin: Do they feed me?

Penelope: I don’t know about you, but they feed me a lot.

Duncan: So you might not have memories yet, but you have dreams, Baby Cousin. I’ve seen you. Your eyes move rapidly and you make little sucking motions with your mouth. You dream about eating, just like Little Dog.

Baby Cousin: Talk some sense to me. Just because I’m six weeks old doesn’t mean that I’m going to take condescension. I’m fierce, you know. Talk down to me and I’ll start to cry and then you’ll be sorry.

Duncan: Dreams come when you fall asleep. It’s like when you fall asleep and you go to that other world -- that pretend world -- you think you are doing things, but you are not. And then you wake up.

Baby Cousin: Another world? Sleep? Sleep and wake are two different states?


Duncan: Yes. It’s like TV.

Penelope: TVs not real? Then why are all those dogs on TV? Could have fooled me.

Duncan: I don’t know if you have noticed how easily the humans trick you into taking a bath. It isn’t very hard.

Penelope: So, you are saying that sometimes when I’m eating a meal, I may only be eating in my mind?

Duncan: Yes.

Penelope: So I’m being gypped out of a meal? So are you getting a meal and I’m not, Big Dog? Who’s getting that food if it isn’t me?

Baby Cousin:
I really fail to see the difference between “waking” and “sleeping,” or “real” and “pretend.” I just recently started to see things right-side up. And what I do see is a big blob. I don’t really get the law of inertia, so I have to be strapped into everything.

Penelope: Inertia’s a tough one.

Baby Cousin: I know that Little Dog is licking my feet right now, but I really don’t know that I have feet. If you showed me my feet, I wouldn’t recognize them as my own. Stop it Little Dog. Don’t you see me turning red? I’m about to cry!

Penelope: Big Dog and I can’t perceive the color red.

Duncan: How do you know what I can see and what I can’t see?

Penelope: Because you are a dog, just like me. We can’t see red.

Duncan: But how do you know I can’t? Have you seen the world through my eyes?

Penelope: No. Don’t be silly. You can’t see red, can you?

Duncan: No. But that’s beside the point. I’m saying that you can’t know what I see just like I can’t know what you see. We might see different things entirely.

Penelope: So then how do you know that I dream? I see you moving and hear you barking when you sleep. Maybe that’s all you are doing. Maybe there’s no narrative going on in your mind. Maybe since I have dreams I’m just projecting my ability to dream on to you. Maybe you’re not even real. Maybe only I am real.

Duncan: I truly think that you might believe that. You often use me as a step stool.

Penelope: So in just the last few minutes you have told me that dreams and TV are not real. Are memories real?

Duncan: That’s what the movie was about.

Penelope: So how do I know what is real? Obviously I can’t trust my senses because the dogs that I see and hear on TV and in dreams do not exist.

Duncan: You think, therefore you are?

Penelope: Big Dog, remember to whom you are talking.

Duncan: Okay. So thinking is out. What about instinct?

Penelope: I get hungry, therefore I am?

Baby Cousin: What about me? I don’t think, I don’t remember, and I don’t really have my senses wired straight. Do I not exist? I’m going to start crying now. I’ll show existence who exists! starts to cry

Penelope: She’s crying! I’ll bark to tell somebody that she’s crying! starts to bark

Duncan: Little Dog, you are barking? Do you hear some one at the door? runs to the door and starts to bark

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Two Fierce Creatures Meet for the First Time

Setting: The front room. A summer day.

Baby Cousin: I was having a nice nap in my car seat. The motion of the car is pleasing. Now I am here, and they are passing me around. Maybe here in Dad's lap I can go back to sleep. Stop licking my feet!

Penelope: I can't help it! You are such an exciting new thing! I have always wanted to see one of you without your wheels. You smell like warm milk. How curious you are!

Baby Cousin: What's Dad doing? I'm being lowered down to the floor. Oh! Stop licking my face! I don't like that! Now I'm going to start crying to show you how fierce I am! Go away! I am a fierce creature! Go away!

Penelope: No way. I haven't been this excited since a cicada flew into the house and I followed it around, barking at it in amazement. I have never seen anything like you.

Baby Cousin: You can lick my feet. That's better than when you lick my face.

Penelope: (pointing at Baby Cousin) O brave new world that has such creatures in it! I am pointing at you, see? You can tell that I'm pointing because my head is down, my forepaw is lifted, and I am in deep concentration. I can't get my tail to unwind, though.

Stray Kitty Update

Stray Kitty is now called Mimi La Boheme around our house. She is still mad at Mommy for taking her to the vet and has not been seen since that day. However, she makes her presence known by stealing into the Garden Room at night and eating prodigious amounts of the cat food that Mommy leaves out for her. There is no way that she is still a slim, seven-pound Stray Kitty.

My fans have been understandably concerned that Mimi might have little kitties of her own one day. Do not fear. Planned Pethood was careful to check that Mimi had been spayed. She was obviously some body's pet before she adopted her bohemian ways -- her warm feelings for humans, her good manners, and her reliance on cat food is sure proof.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Free Will

Setting: The front room, a summer day.

Roomba: Help! I am stuck under the sofa again!

Penelope: Every day you get stuck under there. Why don’t you just avoid it and then you can finish your job without having to cry for help?

Roomba: But I’m programmed to go this way. Everything I do is on a program. You know that yourself. When you see me coming, you know that I don’t slow down or try to go around you, so you move out of my way.

Not always. Sometimes when I am in a deep sleep you bump into me and then you turn away.

Penelope: This is true. When Mommy wants you to go in a different direction, sometimes she will stand in your way so that when you run into her toes you will turn.

But that’s also part of my program. I was made to sweep the floors no matter what obstacle was put in my way. My tenacity has no parallel. My makers just didn’t factor in the problem of the low-sitting sleeper sofa.

Stray Kitty:
Looking in from the window. Poor Roomba! Poor dogs in the house! You don’t have the freedom that I have! You are slaves, and I am not.

Duncan: That’s not entirely true, Stray Kitty. The Lady Who Dotes bought Little Dog with money when she was a puppy, so she is a slave. But I, like you, was a stray. I ran away from the first Guy Who Fed Me and found this new one. I liked the new one better, so I stayed. I did it by choice.

Penelope: I stay by choice! I am charming and all the people love me so I could go with whomever I choose! Big Dog, sometimes you treat me like I’m such a puppy.

Roomba: You are all mistaken. Don’t you know that you have programs just like I have? You are carbon-based so programs are encoded in your DNA, while mine is on my silicon microchip. But they still function the same way.

Stray Kitty: I am not “programmed,” Roomba.

Roomba: But you are! Don’t you get hungry? Don’t you get sleepy? Don’t you want affection? Don’t all of these things happen like clockwork? When you see a mouse, you chase it, just like when Duncan sees you he chases you.

I can’t help it.

Stray Kitty: But you don’t follow the exact direction that you are programmed to, Roomba. Like the dogs said, you make allowances for obstacles, at least. It’s just like when I am in a yard with a fence, I climb the fence and can move out on the open road.

Penelope: I would like to be able to do that, but I do not climb like you, Stray Kitty. Dogs don’t do that.

Dogs are not programmed to do that. Neither are they constructed to do that. Just like me -- I am not constructed to handle word processing. I have no keyboard. The computer up there on the desk has no vacuum. It is not constructed to clean the floors.

Stray Kitty: You say all of this, Roomba, from your position stuck under the sofa. For my part, I am going to demonstrate my freedom by saying goodbye and finding a sunbeam to lie in. She starts to leave.

Roomba: At least I know where my next meal comes from, Stray Kitty. I’ll get it when I go back to my power source in the kitchen.

Stray Kitty:
No, I don’t know where the next mouse is, or if a neighbor will leave food for me on the porch. This is true. It is also true that I don’t know what other cats I’ll meet tonight, and if they will want to fight or how I will make out if we do fight. But my life has a flavor that none of yours has. I’m like that girl in the opera. I live la vie boheme. You Roomba, dogs, are slaves to bourgeois entitlement. Here in your comfortable home, you limit yourselves.

Duncan: I have always wanted to light out for the territory ahead. I did that once and I came upon the Guy Who Feeds Me. I did it another time and after three days the Guy Who Feeds Me found me. I did it a third time and got hit by a car.

Penelope: I am a princess.

Roomba: I am still stuck.

Stray Kitty: Au revoir! She runs away.

Duncan: Jumping at the window screen. Oh! I always do that when she runs!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Stray Kitty

There is a stray kitty who lives in our yard. Her name is Stray Kitty. Sometimes she lives in the shed, sometimes she lives in the Virginia Creeper, sometimes she lives between the fence and the garage.

Stray Kitty is a little calico with one yellow eye that sees and one pink eye that has been horribly scratched. She comes to our garden room to drink from our water bowl.

The other day she sat on the rug in the garden room, looked up at the back door, and started mewling. She ran away when Mommy took out the recycling.

She doesn't like it when Duncan and I are in the yard. That is when she hides. Duncan likes to chase her and I would like to play with her.

She wants to make friends with Mommy, though. Stray Kitty was in the garden room again this morning. Later, when Duncan and I were in the house and Mommy was gardening, Stray Kitty followed Mommy through the yard. Then, when Mommy was pulling weeds, Stray Kitty walked up to her and started brushing up against her and purring. Apparently, she was a very sweet kitty, because Mommy came in the house and said, "Dogs, we have a responsibility."

Now, the only responsibility I have is to chase things out of the yard, so I was jealous of the milk that Mommy poured into a bowl and brought out to Stray Kitty. Mommy never pours milk into a bowl for me. Neither does Mommy open up a can of tuna and present it to me to eat. But she did both for Stray Kitty, who ate right out of her hand.

I wasn't all that jealous of the crate, though. I didn't begrudge Stray Kitty the time she spent locked up, even if it was for a ride in the car. Stray Kitty was not as devious as I am when Mommy tries to crate me. She didn't even put up a fight, or show her claws. She only uttered a few meows of protest.

She had clearly been in a crate before. She had also clearly been for a ride in a car and for an examination at the vet before, because she didn't protest one bit. Instead, she played and purred and was on her best behavior. At least that is what Mommy said, because I didn't get to go.

When she had been checked over and given her shots and after Mommy made an appointment for an operation to have the bad eye removed, she came home. Mommy let her out of her crate in the back yard and she disappeared into one of her hiding places.

We have not seen her all day. But Mommy and the Big Guy are sure she'll be back for breakfast. As much as she likes to be free, Stray Kitty is not a self-sufficient Kitty.

Do not worry, fans. I, Poppy, have not been demoted to second fiddle to a kitty. The Big Guy is allergic to cats and as he would like to breathe, Stray Kitty can't become part of the family.

Mommy will catch (if that is what you can call it) her again on Tuesday and take her for her operation. Then Stray Kitty will have to stay in our garden room until she's done with her antibiotics. Meanwhile, the kind vets at Planned Pethood Plus will be helping Mommy and the Big Guy find Stray Kitty a home.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Socratic Dialogue: Courage

Setting: The front room. A summer day.

Penelope: Sees another dog walking down the street in front of her house. Penelope barks loudly.>Oh! There is that dog who walks by our house again! He is in our territory! I am barking at him as loudly as I can! Duncan! Duncan! Go get him!

Duncan: Why should I go get him? I don’t care that he’s in our territory. He walks through it rather quickly with his human and never stays.

Penelope: Barking at the dog even louder now> But don’t you see? He’s in our territory and it’s wrong that a strange dog is in our pack’s territory. Go get him!

Go get him yourself.

Penelope: What?

Duncan: Go get him yourself if you feel so strongly about it.

Penelope: I won’t do that.

Why? You will certainly make a big fuss when he comes by.

Penelope: I’m scared.

Duncan: Of what?

Penelope: Of the other dog. He could hurt me. That’s why you have to go get him for me.

Duncan: I’ve already told you, I don’t mind him. It’s you who minds him. And if you mind him so much, you should go get him. Stand behind your barks.

Penelope: I want to tell him that he’s an invader, but I really don’t want to have to back it up. I’m little and he’s big. I need some one to stand up for me. It’s like when we go for walks and I bark at other dogs but when they come up to me I hide behind Mommy because she can protect me.

Duncan: So what you are saying is that you make it a policy to say one thing and then do another?

Penelope: Yes.

Duncan: What meaning do your barks have if you don’t back them up? Without the conviction to back them up they are just sound and fury.

Penelope: Well look at that, he’s gone. I must have scared him away with my vicious barking.

Duncan: Yes, that’s exactly what he’s responding to -- your all bark and no bite strategy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Socratic Dialogue: Complicity

Setting: The kitchen. The cupboard has been opened and the trash has been looted.

Penelope: Yum. This trash is delicious. Thank you for opening the cupboard, Big Dog.

Duncan: Penelope, I can’t help but wonder about our conversation earlier. You seemed to take the moral high-ground in that discussion. You seemed to imply that I am doubly guilty in this garbage caper. Your line of questioning suggested that I am guilty not just of being disobedient, but being two-faced.

I guess that my questions could be construed in that way. But you can also look at them as honest questions. Really, your actions lead me to wonder who the real Duncan is. It’s a question of integrity. Are you being true to yourself by pretending to be something that you are, in reality, not?

Duncan: Perhaps. But obviously such things don’t trouble me. I’m curious about your behavior, Little Dog. Why are you sharing in this wonderful feast of trash? Earlier, you suggested that to open the cupboard and take out the trash even though we are not supposed to is wrong. So why are you engaging in this activity with me?

Penelope: Big Dog, you know that it is silly to think that I could open the cupboard by myself. My face is flat. I do not have the Swiss Army Nose that you have.

Duncan: I understand that you are not equipped to do it, and that alone you would not be able to. But does not being able to mean that you would not?

Penelope: Oh, no. I would if I could. I have dreamed of having your nose.

Duncan: So, if you could, you would open the cupboard and take out the trash, even though you know it is wrong?

Penelope: Of course.

Duncan: You know that I get punished when I go into the garbage, don’t you?

Penelope: Yes.

Duncan: So would you say that you deserve to be punished tonight when the Ones With Thumbs get home?

Penelope: No! Why should I? I didn’t open the cupboard. We just agreed that I can’t open it, remember? I didn’t do the bad thing.

Duncan: Yet you are here, sharing in the fruits of the bad thing.

Penelope: You did the bad thing, you just let me eat the trash with you. Eating the trash isn’t bad. We agreed implicitly that it’s the getting into the trash that is the bad thing. The trash is just here, independent of the bad thing.

Duncan: I don’t think so. I don’t think that it’s the only bad thing. I think that you are doing a bad thing by benefiting from a bad thing. I think that that makes you as guilty as I am. You didn’t stop me and you are deriving as much pleasure from this caper as I am.

Penelope: How could I stop you? You are the Big Dog. I am the Little Dog. I follow your lead. I’m really just along for the ride on this one.

Duncan: True, you didn’t stop me, nor did you encourage me. However, that’s just an omission. It doesn’t make you innocent. Maybe if you had stayed out of the kitchen, had told me to go into the kitchen, and out of principle not joined me in this meal you might not be guilty.

Penelope: But you are the one who opened the door. That door would never have been opened if you were not here. Hey, are you going to lick out the rest of that bleu cheese container? If not, can I finish it?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Socratic Dialogue: Sneakiness

Setting: A cold, snowy day. The kitchen. Just after Mommy and the Big Guy have left for work.

Duncan: The Lady Who Dotes and The Guy Who Feeds Me forgot to put up the garbage. The chicken bones from last night smell so delicious. I know you can smell them. Get out of the way, Little Dog. I need to open the cupboard.

Penelope: Those bones smell delicious. If I had your nose, I’d be opening up the cupboard, too. My mouth is watering. I can’t wait for you to get it open. However, I can’t help thinking that this is a bad thing we are doing.

Duncan: Little Dog, what are you suggesting? I don’t like it.

I am suggesting that maybe it isn’t a good idea to do this.

Duncan: Why, can’t you smell the bones?

Penelope: I can, but that’s not what I am struggling with here. (And you know that I am an impatient pug and hate to struggle). I’m interested in why you don’t get into the garbage when the Ones With Thumbs are home. Tell me, when the Ones With Thumbs are home, do you still want to get into the garbage?

Duncan: Of course. They keep delicious stuff in there. Last week The Guy Who Feeds Me put Chinese takeout in there.

Penelope: So, you want what is in the garbage when they are home. But I have observed you get into the garbage and take what you want only when they are not home. Is this observation correct?

Duncan: Yes.

Penelope: So what is the difference between when they are home and when they are not home? Why do you choose to take the food out of the cupboard when they are not home?

Duncan: Because if I did it when they were home, there is a better chance that they would see me do it.

So you don’t want them to see you do it?

Duncan: Really, I don’t want to get punished. When I get into the garbage, they yell “No! No!” and then put me outside and do not look at me until the mess is cleaned up.

Penelope: So you don’t do it when they are at home because you don’t want to be punished?

Duncan: Yes.

Penelope: Why don’t you think they will punish you when they get home?

Duncan: Don’t you get it? They won’t know it’s me who’s doing it if they don’t see me doing it.

Penelope: So what you are telling me is that you are one way when the Ones With Thumbs are home, and another way when they are not?

Duncan: Yes, that’s right.

Penelope: So you are saying that you pretend to be a good dog when you are around the Ones With Thumbs, but it really doesn’t matter to you if you are a good dog when they can’t see you?

Duncan: Right. By pretending, I minimize the risk of being punished and maximize the reward of being adored.

Penelope: So tell me, who is the real Duncan?

Duncan: What do you mean?

Penelope: Who is the real you? The dog who is good and obedient when the Ones With Thumbs are around, or the dog who disobeys them just because they are gone for the day?

Duncan: I am uncomfortable with your insinuations, Little Dog. What are you accusing me of?

Penelope: I am not accusing you of anything. I am not trying to pick a fight, because we both know who would win -- you, Big Dog. I’m just wondering, who is the real Duncan?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Unexamined Life

Socrates says that the unexamined life is not worth living.

I disagree.

I, Poppy, live a wholly unexamined life. I do not question who walks by the house and whether they are a threat. I do not question my reputation in the neighborhood as a barker. I do not question my parents' reputations as poor disciplinarians. I simply bark. I can because the humans I live with are omnipotent, with the powers of treats and leashes, thumbs, fences, doors, locks, and keys. When they walk into the room, the lights turn on! When they come home in the winter the heat goes up! I can bark at the passersby because these immortals are on my side. When the stranger comes to the door, I can always stand behind the person who comes to answer it.

Is this unexamined life not worth living? What is so bad about lying spread-eagle on the tile floor to stay cool in the summer? What is so bad about sitting at the door and sniffing the breeze? What is so wrong about licking the salt off of human legs? What is so wrong about sleeping in a sunbeam all day long? Are these activities worth nothing because I do not ask myself, "Poppy, are you righteous?"

Witness Roomba. He toils daily but does not complain. When he gets stuck under the sofa he waits quietly until freed. He does not wonder about his destiny or his free will. When he is tired he returns to his dock to recharge. He does not ask himself, "Roomba, are you righteous?"

What does Socrates know?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Positive Spin

Maybe having a baby around won't be so bad. She is a human baby so at least she will not be following me around jumping up and down and trying to kiss me on the mouth the way a puppy would.

Perhaps her eating habits will make up for the loss of attention I will suffer. A messy eater is a comfort to a neglected dog.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


There has been a shift in the balance and order of the universe. I, Poppy, have been demoted.

Last night my Aunt Sarah had a baby, so I am not the baby of the family. I fear that I am no longer Grandma's favorite. I am afraid of what this turn of events will do to what I have come to think of as the normal rate and volume of doting and treat disbursement.

I know that this means that I will have to start facing up to the responsibilities and obligations of being an older cousin that I eschewed even though Lucy and Bear are younger than I.

I know this is expected of me. But I prefer not to.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


There is a new pet in our house. It is called Roomba. Every morning Mommy lets it loose to dust the floors. But mostly it sits in its dock and bothers no one. Duncan and I treat it the way we treat each other. Mostly, we ignore it.

Sometimes it comes straight towards us. It doesn't really like to go around things until it bumps into them. Such behavior is no problem for me because I am a little dog and I spend approximately 25% of my time avoiding getting stepped on or run in to. I am quite agile as a result.

Duncan is a big dog so he doesn't worry about being stepped on. He takes it for granted that people will move around him. He is very stubborn that way. Sometimes, even when asked to move, he won't, so Mommy and the Big Guy have to drag him out of the way. I either step on him or jump over him.

Occasionally, Roomba will bump into Duncan causing him great surprise. He is so surprised that he will look at Roomba with wonder but will not move. Roomba will back up but it is stubborn, too. It will bump into him again. By this time Duncan will be struggling to get up. He is all legs and on a wood floor he looks like Bambi on ice. Roomba will back up one more time, but it really wants to continue going forward, so it does. Duncan is big, and does not move quickly. Roomba will bump into his foot and Duncan will trip out of its way.

Mommy likes Roomba because it is productive. It picks up a lot of hair. But I am not jealous. I think, who is really the true producer? The pet who picks up the hair or the pet who creates it?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Got Hope?

Where is Mommy going?

She is walking toward the closet where she keeps my leash. I am so curious that I stand there behind her with my right paw raised in a gesture of expectation. Dare I hope? I am wearing my as-soon-as-Mommy-says-the-word-"ready"-I-will-express-the-sweetest-joy-with-shrill-and-unsupressable-yelping face. This face is much like my your-actions-have-caught-me-by-surprise-and-they-would-fascinate-me-if-only-my-mind-were-not-such-a-complete-blank face, only I tilt my chin just slightly higher for the former.

Mommy reaches into the closet. The suspense lasts for maybe a second but it seems to me like a lifetime.

Disappointment. Mommy keeps my leash in the same closet as the vacuum.

The closet gives and the closet takes away.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


On the Internet there are pictures of birds getting baths. They have been covered with oil from the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. If I understood what was going on I would be very sad for the birds and other animals who have been and will be injured by the oil. I, Poppy, am a sensitive pug.

Notwithstanding my sensitivity, I do not understand oil spills. I do, however, understand baths. The birds in the pictures look about as excited as I do when I get a bath. Today, when I take my bath, it will be a solidarity bath. I will express my solidarity with the injured animals by looking like the most oppressed pug ever born. I will frown and hang my tail down behind me.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Picture yourself in a garden with compost.
Moldy vegetables make neurotoxins.
Duncan in the sky with diamonds!
Duncan in the sky with diamonds!
Duncan in the sky with diamonds!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Do Stairs Better Than Scarlett O'Hara

I do stairs better than Scarlett O'Hara.

I have much the same survival instinct as the aforementioned cinematic heroine.* We both are very demanding and use our charms to get what we want. I, Poppy, am very flirtatious.

In the movie, Miss Scarlett is always on the stairs. You could say that the stairs are the setting to so many of the dramas of her life.**

Unlike Miss Scarlett I do not hang out on stairs. This is how my dramatic expression trumps hers.

In my life, stairs are a conduit of action -- especially of downward action. What happens at the top of the stairs is more important that what happens on them. They and gravity exist only to punctuate my emotions.

You could say that the stairs in my life are like the stairs in The Red Shoes.***

For example, today I remembered that I left a chewie in the bedroom. I went up to get it. My audience was in the dining room at the bottom of the stairs and unsure as to why I went up. I made some noises to add to the suspense. At just the right moment, I appeared at the top of the stairs, my eyes wide and full of fire, and with the very large chewie in my mouth. I paused just long enough to let the potential energy of my excitement and triumph settle on the audience, and then I ran at full speed down the stairs toward them.

It got their attention. Just what I wanted.

*I call her a cinematic heroine because I have not read the book. I have only seen the movie. I do not read.

**At this very moment, my mommy is urging me to discourse on the topic of stairs as a device in Gone With the Wind. I refuse. This blog is about me.

***Miss Vicky is a match for Miss Scarlett any day in the drama department.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mistaken Identity

On my walk this morning Mommy and I encountered a neighborhood child. There are four species of neighborhood children. There are the ones who stand on two legs, are very tall, and who know how to pet almost as well as an adult. Then there are the ones who are my size, but stand on two legs. They confuse me. They often are very enthusiastic, but must be guided in petting technique. With them, I am usually made to sit with my back to the child and Mommy holding me tight. The child then pats me very softly on the back. I do a lot of panting during this process.

Those two types of neighborhood children are much less confusing than the other two types. The others are very small. The first of this kind is usually still attached to the chest of its male parent, its forward and hind legs splayed out as if to hug an imaginary bear standing right in front of it. I am scared of this type of animal. I do not trust animals with eight legs. I hide behind Mommy when one comes toward us.

The final species of neighborhood child has wheels. Wheels disturb me. When I was a little puppy I didn't understand bikes. I used to bark at them when they drove by. I still do not like bikes. It is hard to tell when the bike ends and the human begins. I am still not convinced that this is some sort of monster.

This last neighborhood child most often has four wheels, one head, and an appendage which it uses to point. Sometimes it has eight wheels, two heads, and two pointers. The child I encountered today was like this more rare child.

As we were walking the child pointed its appendage at me. Its mommy asked it, "What kind of dog is that?" It responded, "It's a sheep."


Mommy is watching Kundun, the Martin Scorsese film based on the life of the Dalai Lama. It is about the struggles of the Tibetan people.

Pugs are Tibetan people. It is true! We first appeared in China, but then were taken to Tibet to guard the monasteries. When you go to the the East Asian floor of the art museum you can see statues of dogs with short noses and curly tales from thousands of years ago. In past posts, I have written about how the East Asian pug aesthetic translated itself into the statues of lions. The East Asians had never seen lion but had heard stories about them. So when they made representations of them, they made them look like pugs. So those statues of those flying lions that you find in Tibetan stores are really representations of enlightened pugs. It is true.

I, Poppy, am not watching Kundun. In fact, I am sleeping. In my comfortable, material life in exile I have forgotten my Tibetan brothers and sisters. In my dreams I am chasing squirrels.