Posts Tagged ‘dog



Her fur coat looks like
You; Do you feel insecure,
Little yappy dog?


Ringing Out The Old (Hopefully)

I can’t believe I’ll be ringing in 2010 like this;
Without so much as a male Yorkie to kiss.
Each January 2nd, I swear I’ll come up with a better plan.
Maybe by the next time
All the stars will align
And I’ll spend New Year’s Eve with a man.


I’ve Heard The Song For Years

I’ve heard the song for years and
Just found out- it’s true-
This really *is* a marshmallow world.
Quick! Leash up the dog!



The man in the blue suit stopped just outside the glass doors and scrubbed his sweaty hands on his pant legs. “You’re acting like a schoolboy on his first date,” he said. “Just go in there, tell them who you are and take her home.”

Flinging the door open, he walked to the desk just inside and announced, “I’m Howard Wallace and I’ve come for Mariah.” The woman behind the desk gathered her curly gray hair into a fist at the nape of her neck then pulled it so it was all back over her shoulders. Faint smile lines traced the sides of her mouth and her eyes twinkled even as she frowned at Howard from beneath straight brows.

“Howard Wallace,” she repeated. “Could I see some identification?”

“Is Mariah here?” Howard asked. “Can I see her?”

“First things first,” the woman said. “Some identification please.” Howard’s hands were damp again and he fumbled with his wallet. He opened it and handed it to the woman across from him. She glanced at it then nodded for him to put it away. He’d stirred up a small breeze and the woman’s soft perfume came to him along with enough disinfectant to make a lesser man swoon. “Mariah is here,” the woman said. “She was picked up this afternoon.” Seeing Howard’s shoulders sag in relief, she added, “But I’m not sure she’ll be leaving with you.”

“But why? I’m her owner.”

“Mr. Wallace, Mariah is very young and she needs someone looking after her.”

“I know. My neighbor was supposed to be watching her.”

“Mariah was found wandering in traffic four blocks from your home, Mr. Wallace. That’s a lot of ground for a small dog to cover all alone.”

“I know. I know. The girl let her out to do her business and then I don’t know what happened. I guess she forgot her. I’m not sure if her boyfriend came over or the phone rang or-”

“It doesn’t matter what happened or how it happened,” the woman said, waving a dismissive hand at Howard. “The fact is Mariah, who’s a beautiful little dog by the way, was alone and lost and could have been hurt or killed or caused someone else to be hurt or killed. That’s not responsible pet ownership and I just don’t feel comfortable releasing her to you.”

Howard took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He could hear the lost and homeless dogs barking in the next room and tried to hear which one was Mariah. He let his eyes roam the pastel walls and light for a second or two on each of the bright posters before he looked back at the slight woman behind the desk. “The thing is,” Howard began, “I’ve got to have Mariah back. She was a pre-retirement gift from my daughter and she’d kill me if anything happened to her.”

“Good thing it didn’t and a doubly good thing we reached you first then.”

“Yes,” Howard said. He looked at the poster behind the woman’s head again then back down at her face. “And there’s another reason too. I mean another reason it’s good nothing happened to her. I mean besides the obvious.”

“Which is?”

“Well… I love her. I love Mariah,” Howard said all in a rush. “I’m sure it’s hard for you to believe. It’s hard even for me to believe, I mean, when I’ve known her only two weeks. But somehow that little girl has worked her way into my heart. She’s the first thing I think about when I wake in the morning and the last thing I see before I close my eyes at night. I didn’t even know if I wanted a dog and now I’m counting the days till I’m retired and we can spend all our time together.”

“She’s a dog, Mr. Wallace. She’s not a person; she’s just a dog.”

“I hear you but you’re wrong,” Howard said. “She’s a dog to you. You see a lot of dogs every day so maybe they don’t mean much to you anymore. But Mariah isn’t just a dog to me. She’s my friend now and in two weeks she’ll be my sole traveling companion.”

“To where?”

“You’ll think it’s silly but I’ve always dreamed of sailing around the world. I know Mariah’s just a small dog but I’m going to teach her to swim and buy her a little life jacket so she’ll be safe. I’ve got a tether for her and a hammock for her to sleep in in case she doesn’t want to sleep on my berth. We’re going to take some short trips at first to see how we like it and then we’ll be man and dog against the elements on the high seas.” Howard chuckled at himself.

“That’s pretty ambitious for an old man and a small dog.”

“Maybe it’s being away from civilization for so long or maybe it’s the idea of spending so much time with me. I don’t know but I’ve spent years looking for a woman who’d like to make that kind of a trip with me. I never could find one. But now it doesn’t matter. See? I’ve got a girl to keep me company. She just happens to have four legs and a tail.” Howard laughed again then bent over and looked the woman straight in the eyes. “So you see, I’ve got to have Mariah back. She’s part of my dream now and I’m only two weeks away from it.”

“A little dog like Mariah could get into a lot of trouble in two weeks,” the woman said. “How long did it take before she was out in traffic this time?”

“I’ll find a good kennel,” Howard promised. “I’ll hire a professional dog-sitter. I’ll take her to doggy daycare.”

“Or she could stay here with me.”

“What? But I…”

“You’re right, Mr. Wallace, I do see a lot of dogs every day but if they didn’t mean something to me I wouldn’t be doing this job. We could keep Mariah here and try to find a better home for her but I don’t suppose we’d find someone as crazy about her as you are,” she smiled at Howard. “At the same time, she’s a very special little dog and I wouldn’t want to take another chance on something happening to her. Especially when you’re only two weeks away from your dream. So what if she stayed in the reception area with me while you’re working?”

“I don’t know. That seems like a lot of trouble for a man and dog you’ve just met.”

“Not really. I’m here from eight to five anyway Monday through Friday. I have to warn you though if you’re late she goes home with me.” The creases at the corners of the woman’s mouth deepened and an Orion’s belt of stars danced in her eyes as she waited for Howard to say “Yes.”

“Where do you live?” Howard asked. “In case I’m unavoidably delayed.”

“Don’t be,” the woman said, “but I live at North Cove Marina almost all the way to the end of F dock.” She smiled again at Howard’s look of surprise then motioned for him to follow her as she walked back to the dog room and opened the door. A young man dressed in colorful scrubs nodded to them as he walked past and took the place at the desk.

“Do you believe in love, Mrs. ummm?”

“Miss umm Grace Marshall,” the woman said. “And yes, I do believe in love. But first I believe in walking dogs and drinking coffee.”

“Forty-five minutes?”

“I’ll just be closing up,” Grace said. A young woman unlocked Mariah’s enclosure and Grace put her gently into Howard’s arms then escorted them to the front door. “Don’t be late,” she called as man and dog climbed into the car.

“You know,” said Howard as he pulled out of the lot, “We’re a pair of very lucky dogs.” Mariah yipped and licked Howard’s ear then curled up on the seat. Howard threw back his head and laughed, shedding the years like so much extra fur. He felt giddy and light as a boy with new sneakers and a secret.



Canid wildness in the wind
Harrying steel wool.
Clouds stampede across the sky.
Small drops fall at first;

Agents sent to spy the land.
Milk and Honey comes
Their report. Tribes and torrents
Meet and merge, pushing

Into another’s air-space.
Thunderous voices raised.
Bumptious wind makes peace scatt’ring
Combatants and clouds.


Night Walk

She was asleep again. Franklin could hear the snoring proof of this long before he reached the open bedroom door and took in her lolling head and flaccid limbs. Her mouth stretched wide to capture greedy gulps of air then snapped shut to keep them from escaping.

Franklin stood watching them, mother and child, for several minutes. This woman snoring before him had drunk and danced until early morning, but now fell asleep halfway through “Good Night, Moon.” Sometimes their daughter was still awake and she and Franklin would look at the mother and share a conspiratorial smile. Tonight, however, the girl snuffled gently and Franklin lacked even that companionable gesture.

“When did she become so exhausted?” he wondered. “When did she grow so tired of life and of me?” It was hard to recognize, in this nearly comatose figure, the girl so brimming with zest and lust that she had blown him in a restaurant, risking jail for both of them but especially him. It seemed as if years had passed since she made the first move never mind attempting a second act of that caliber.

She did not always spend the whole night with their child. Some nights she would awaken and stagger down the hall in a somnambulant stupor to collapse in their bed and begin filling the room with her snoring and night-breath.

“When did things change?” Franklin asked the door. There was the time she needed to recover from the pregnancy and delivery and Franklin felt he had been most patient about that. But it was hard to tell when the recovery period was over. It must have been when she stopped saying “It’s too soon” and started saying “No”.

“This doesn’t feel like my body anymore,” she said. “I’m not comfortable in it.”

“I could be very comfortable in it,” he said, only half-joking. She had not laughed.

Sometimes after she dragged herself down the hall and resettled, snoring, in their bed, he would have intercourse with her as she lay on her back with both openings gawping. But this was problematic and complicated. There was no longer the possibility of pregnancy, but there were issues of consent. Franklin had often discussed with his friends the concept of ongoing consent. If your wife said “It” was okay, then it was pretty much on the books. Some feminists had argued that a woman had to be able to give consent every time and that required at least consciousness, although Franklin could easily name several women who even conscious could not render a decision.

And where were the women marching on behalf of a husband’s right to sexual fulfillment? Franklin had given up on ever meeting any so, more often than not, he would lie beside his wife, masturbating silently, reaching out now and then to touch her while he fantasized that she was the girl she had been or at least someone who was awake and moderately interested.

Franklin considered waking her now but, deciding to let sleeping dogs lie, he turned away and resigned himself to another sexless night alone in this shell of a home.

A rhythmic thumping on the living room floor reminded him that he was not alone, just lacking in the company of other humans. The small, shaggy, gray dog danced with joy before the screened but open front door. His dark eyes glistened through the mop of hair which nearly covered them as he had, once again, lost the bow which held it in place. He scampered over to Franklin and yipped before returning to the door.

“No way,” Franklin said. “We’re in for the night.” Going to the door himself, he gave it a good shove.

“Yipe,” the small dog cried. Franklin realized the creature had wedged himself between the inside door and the screen. Franklin pulled the door open and the little dog raised one paw and cocked his head questioningly. Franklin glanced at the clock.

“It is only 9:32,” he said, dropping a pat on the dog’s head and reaching for the leash. “I guess I owe you a walk after nearly smashing your foot.” The dog performed a limping version of his happy dance and Franklin smiled in spite of himself.

“You’re a pretty good dog, Smokey,” he said, snapping the leash on and letting them both out. “Sorry she named you that.” If Smokey heard, he gave no indication and instead bounded down the steps and ran ahead until the leash and Franklin’s arm were at their limit and Franklin was trotting along behind him. Franklin started to reel him in then decided to give the dog his head and follow along. There was no need to hurry home, after all. No one would miss them until morning. They were two males outdoors on a gentle spring night looking for adventure. And why not?

Jogging along behind Smokey, Franklin felt he was seeing Rowland through new eyes. It wasn’t just that following a dog around had made him more aware of the trees. It was also being outside of a car and viewing things by the soft glow of the moonlight rather than the harsh glare of his headlights. He hadn’t realized how built up this area had become and he wondered what the people had given up or plowed under so they could fulfill their desire for more shopping opportunities.

He and Smokey were in a strip mall now, he noticed with a start. Smokey had led him through the night to a large pet store and was begging to be let in.

“What’s up, boy? You been here before?” Franklin searched his brain, but no memories tied to this pet store surfaced. Smokey whined and pulled on the leash. The light through the front windows only hinted at that within the store. Franklin opened the door and was momentarily blinded by the emergency room brightness.

“Why, in the name of God, would they need so much light?” he muttered. Smokey yanked him, unseeing, past towers of dog and cat crates until they reached a plastic bin full of free treats in which he buried his head until only his ears showed above the rim.

Franklin unsnapped the leash and slung it over one shoulder, pulling the clip through the loop so it hung like gold braid on a drum major. He plunged his hands into his pockets and nearly whistled. Because it was so late, the store was nearly empty of people. Franklin noticed a woman near the collars and leashes and a man arranging a display of vitamin supplements. Franklin walked up one aisle and down another. He felt as if the sun was shining down on him as he promenaded on the beach. He paused to toss some tasseled cat toys from hand to hand.

“I wonder if I can still juggle,” Franklin said, adding a stuffed mouse to the pile on his hand. He threw the toys into the air one at a time, slowly at first then faster as the old skills and confidence returned. He was standing on the sunlit grass outside his college dorm and the girls were watching and giggling.

“This is not that kind of establishment,” he heard someone nearby hiss. At once the girls disappeared and he was back in the overly bright pet store. “I suggest you take your nasty self somewhere else,” the voice continued.

“You don’t have to approve,” a woman’s voice answered. “I wouldn’t expect you to. All I want is for you to fix the machine so I can engrave the tag. If you’d prefer, you can run it yourself.”

“I don’t want any part of it,” the man said. “If you or your imaginary friend want to play sick little collar and leash games, go somewhere else for help.”

Franklin dropped a mouse and bent to retrieve it. Turning his head a touch to the right, he glimpsed the most attractive pair of legs he’d ever seen. He had an involuntary urge to run a key or a pencil eraser up one calf to see if the owner would squirm.

“Oh God,” he thought, “Please don’t let it be the man.” In a moment the conversation continued and he knew his prayer had been heard.

“Look,” the woman said. “You have the machine for customers to use and I’m a customer. It’s none of your business if my friend is a dog. Or a man.” Her voice had the slight hoarseness of a light smoker or a sinusitis sufferer.

“Or you, right?” The man asked. “I’ve read enough Dear Abby to know that when someone says ‘my friend’ it really means them not a dog. No dog means no collar and no name tag. Now get out.”

Franklin could bear the tension no longer and he stepped around the end of the aisle. He was immediately reminded of the saying that crewcuts are worn by Cub Scouts and psychopaths. Since Cub Scouts were unlikely to wear bowties and frequent pet stores at 10 p.m., this man was clearly in the latter camp. He stood with his hands on his hips, legs akimbo, facing down the owner of the legs Franklin had so admired. She folded her arms and glared. At Franklin.

“I suppose I’m butting in here,” he said. They nodded almost in unison.

“I couldn’t help feeling there was a problem and maybe I could help.” She rolled her eyes at him. The hazel irises were all but swallowed up by their lids. The salesman cleared his throat.

“This is none of your beeswax,” he said. “If you know this woman, please take her and go.”

“No one is taking me anywhere,” the woman said. “All I am trying to do is buy a dog collar and a name tag which last I checked was not against the law.”

“There are community standards to be upheld,” the salesman said, fiercely.

“What kind of standards?” asked Franklin.

“Decency standards,” said the salesman. “We don’t want Rowland being over run by freaks.” He had fogged up his glasses and he removed a handkerchief from his right hip pocket to clean them.

“What kind of freaks?” asked Franklin. The salesman huffed on his glasses and polished them briskly before replacing them and the handkerchief.

“The kind who buy dog collars and don’t have dogs,” he said. “I refuse to sell a collar to a kinky dogless freak. It’s just not right.” Franklin winked at the woman.

“I have a dog. Suppose I buy the collar,” he said.

“You really don’t need to do that,” the woman said. She glared at Franklin.

“But I want to,” Franklin said. “Smokey needs a new collar. Smokey? Here, Smoke.”

“I suppose he needs a new tag that says ‘White Sugar’ on it, too. Right?” The salesman said.

“Sure. That’s what we call him at home,” Franklin answered.

“Seriously,” said the woman. “I don’t want you to do this.”

“It’s a good deed,” Franklin said. “My chance to help a damsel in distress.” Smokey arrived, dragging his belly behind him, after being called another four times. It was clear he had eaten enough free doggie treats to last in his memory long after they had left his stomach. The woman reluctantly handed Franklin the collar she had chosen. They supervised the salesman’s engraving of the name tag then he bustled Franklin off to the register to pay for it. They saw the man lock the door behind them then sag against it in relief.

“What’s your name?” the woman asked as Franklin handed her the bag. Franklin thought for a moment. He hated his name. Always had. His grandmother had insisted he be named Franklin after her favorite president not knowing a Peanuts character of a different color would bear the same name. This had worked to his advantage only once. A scholarship committee had awarded him a full ride and when they discovered their mistake they were too afraid of litigation to take it back. Now, here he stood…

“My name is Fra-fra-frank,” he said.

“Really?” she said. “With a ‘ph”?”

“Maybe. What’s yours?”

“Tiara,” she said.

“Sierra? Like ‘Treasure of the Sierra Madre’?”

“No, Mr. Can’t-Spell-My-Own-Name. Tiara like the crown.”

“Is that your real name?”

“What do you think? You think I’d give my real name to some asshole stranger outside a pet store in the middle of the night?” Franklin felt as if he’d been slapped.

“Why are you so mad at me? What did I do wrong? I was trying to help you,” he said.

“Who asked you? Me?”

“Look,” Franklin said softly. “It looks like we got off on the wrong foot. Can I buy you a cup of coffee?”


“A real quiet place. Good coffee served up plain. Have you ever been to Mike’s diner?” he asked.

“No, she said, backing up. “A friend of mine got stabbed there. She died right on the floor by the front door.”

“The Metropolitan then. It’s a really nice place. An old subway car,” he explained. She was still backing up.

“I’m not really into fancy,” she said. “Look, why don’t you just go home?”

“Why?” Franklin asked. They heard the salesman’s car pull away from the side of the store, leaving them alone.

“It’s where you belong,” she said. She nodded at Smokey who was pulling Franklin’s arm in the direction they had come. “Your friend’s ready to go.”

“Do you have a friend?” asked Franklin.

“What do you think?” she said, laughing. “Go home to your lame-ass wife and be happy.”

“Will you be okay?” Franklin asked. “Will I see you again?”

“What do you think?” she said again, over her shoulder.

Franklin watched her walk into the darkness beyond the streetlight. An hour later as he mounted the stairs, and then his wife, he answered his own question.

“Every night,” he panted. “I’ll see you every night.” Below him his wife murmured, but slept on.


Something Like That

Her dad called him “a piece of work”.
Her sister said, “He’ll make you cry.”
Her mother said, “I don’t know what the hell you’re thinking.”
No one told her he was a man who’d do something like that.

Sometimes stop signs were optional.
He never corrected an undercharging bill.
He put cat poop in a business rival’s AC unit.
Did that make him a man who’d do something like this?

He said rude things to and about her friends.
Canceled appointments to have her hair done.
Told her, “Baby, your life would be so empty without me.”
Maybe she should have seen him as a man who’d do something like this.

Now they’re an item on the blotter:
Reporting party says
Her dog died at the vet yesterday and someone picked it up.
They said they were a friend of hers.
She didn’t know who it was.
Today her ex-husband called.
He’s burying the dog; She wants it back.

The cops charged him but laughed.
“Geez, lady. You can’t think this’ll stick.
A skin and soul of Teflon he’s got.
But what did you expect?
He’s a man who’d do something like that.”