I wonder if there is a hell for dog owners who are mean to their pets.
I don’t mean like Michael Vick mean.
I’d never put my dog in a pen to fight another suitable opponent, which in this case would be an ill-tempered hamster.
I’m not inhumane to my dog. Just rude. I treat him the way people used to treat dogs before they started treating dogs like children.
We live in times of rampant venom. Hostility reigns. There are wars, ethnic hatreds and daily assaults on refined manners that makes life such a heartbreaking endeavor to those of us not raised by wolves.
Yet, I never stoop to incivility. I treat all my fellow man with high regard. I encourage their success, sympathize with their failures and cheerlead their every effort.
Not so with Snickers, the dog with the two-syllable name I never fail to address with fewer than six. We were told he was a little pug, a little shih tzu, maybe a little terrier.
The best I can tell is Snickers is composed of a little Moe, a little Larry and a little Curly. Individually, I love them, but imagine if you combined Moe’s meanness, Curly’s violence and Larry’s stupidity.
You’d have an unholy mix like something old Doc Frankenstein would have conjured in his lab.
He’s high-strung and nervous, the Andy Dick of dogs. As I’ve said before, he’s the kind of dog more likely to ignite blazing fires than cuddle up beside them.
Still, I know many humans who behave like that and I tolerate them with equanimity, albeit an equanimity softened by multiple bourbons and mindless nods meant to mislead, yes, I’m listening and, yes, I care.
The girls love him.. But I’ve never been as frustrated with another creature in my entire life. I’ve had angry run-ins with DMV clerks, surly mechanics and idiot editors.
But, even in the heat of dispute, none of those bone-headed miscreants has ever expressed their contempt by waking me up out of a sound sleep to pee on my bare foot at 5 a.m.
Please, send no tips, no advice. We’ve done it before. We have the crate. We have the bell by the door. We have the treats. And the only time I ever say anything positive to the 16-pound doggie is when he successfully targets the yard for his relief.
“Yeah, Snickers! You’re the best! Good boy!”
I’ve never cheered for Penguin captain Sydney Crosby as enthusiastically as I do for Snickers when he craps in the yard.
We’ve had the dog in the parks and are often met by friends and strangers who say how adorable he is. The girls all gush in agreement.
“I hate him,” I say. “He wakes us up every night at 5 a.m. He’s wild. He barks when a single leaf falls to the ground. If I’m out having fun someplace, I have to arbitrarily end the fun so we can go home before his thimble-sized bladder bursts.”
What’s been heartening to me is how many people share my hatreds. Here’s a little secret: in every partnership, one person or the other hates the dog and how much the other fusses over it.
In rare successful marriages, the hatreds merge.
“We got rid of our dogs when our daughter was 2 and it was just too much,” confided one friend. “I felt sad for about 40 minutes, then felt a zen-like peace. I told my husband how I felt and he high-fived me.”
My wife was away this week and it was hell. I’m not cut out for the Mr. Mom routine, especially when the baseball playoffs are on.
My mother came out to give me a break and by the happiest of coincidences it happened the night of Roy Halladay’s historic no-hitter. When I got home from the bar, the house was in chaos. Snickers was loose and had peed in the kitchen.
Val called later and asked if my mother hated Snickers as much as me.
“Ah, honey, nobody hates Snickers . . .” I said.
“How sweet! I knew a little bonding time would do the trick.”
“You didn’t let me finish. I was going to say, ‘Nobody hates Snickers . . . as much as I do.’”
In some corners of the world, calling a person a dog is the most vile insult.
It goes to show how I can find human harmony with all cultures.
Snickers is a real dog.
I just can’t fathom what kind.