The Dog

My dog is not the most well-behaved dog on the planet. In fact, on a scale of Cujo to Lassie, she’s probably more likely to cause you to run screaming to your car than she is to help poor Timmy out of a well. And she’s not fond of children or other dogs (hmm, wasn’t it W.C. Fields who said not to work with children or animals? Maybe my dog is W.C. Fields… That would explain why she’s always smoking cigars.) and she jumps on everyone who comes over, repeatedly, and almost always knocks all our male visitors squarely in the groin. And, most annoyingly of all (for me anyway; it’s not like I’m getting knocked in the groin, after all), she will not stop barking at our neighbor-dog, Zeus.

Never mind that Zeus is the least ferocious dog ever. Never mind that he walks by our place at least six times a day. No, if Zeus is outside, my dog must bark and bark and bark as if we’re being attacked by killer alien bees.

But what would happen if Mrs. Wigglebottom (yes, even the dog has a pseudonym) and Zeus ever met up face to face?

Let us cast our attention back in time to an incident with the Crazy Christian Neighbor. . .

The Crazy Christian Neighbor is one of a large number of people who live in a small house at the top of the hill. They seem like they’d be a nice family. The dad drives a truck. The mom has a nice garden. They all work together to put new shingles on their house. They have a couple of cats for whom they’ve built an outdoor fenced-in playground, which, at first I thought was really strange, but now I think is brilliant, because the fenced-in playground has an opening in the bottom that is large enough for cat comings and goings, but too small for any other animals to enter. So, if any of the neighborhood dogs starts to chase the cats, the cats have a safe retreat.

And they have their religious beliefs, which, in part, consist of putting the ten commandments in their front yard whenever something troubling happens in the neighborhood, like a raucous party or Satanic orgy. But in general, they seem fine. . .

except for the kid. First of all, he has this small terrier mix that he ties to a rope and walks up and down our dead end, even though there’s a lot more grass in the other direction. Second, as he walks the dog, he does kung-fu moves. Worse than that, he’s utterly unfriendly. Even as he walks his yippy, bouncy dog on a frayed rope down our dead-end, frightening the cats and giving Mrs. Wigglebottom and Zeus rare moments of common purpose–barking in unison at the dog–even if we’re sitting outside or playing basketball, he never waves, never says hello, nothing.

So, one day, as Mrs. Wigglebottom and I are coming back from our morning walk, she manages to tangle herself in a large many-limbed tree branch. She and her leash are completely entwined with the branch and the branch is so big that there’s no way she can get in the house with it strapped to her. I have no choice but to unhook her from her leash at the front door so that I can untangle her.

Well, of course, at that very moment, the crazy kid and his dog come down the street for their morning constitutional. Mrs. Wigglebottom, of course, now that she’s off-leash takes off running at full speed towards the kid. I, leash in one hand, large tree branch in the other, start screaming, “No, stop right there! Stop, stop, god damn it, come back here.” To which Mrs. Wigglebottom responds, “I don’t speak English, fool! I only know three words and they are ‘eat that’ and ‘car.'” I say, “God damn it, dog, I know you know the word, ‘wait,'” but by then she’s already at the kid.

But what happens? He’s paused in mid kung-fu chop, paralyzed with fear. His dog, for the first time in its life is neither yapping nor jumping, and both dogs are, of course, sniffing each other’s butts. I run over there apologizing profusely, explaining that she’s harmless, and apologizing some more.

Y’all, you know what he said to me? I swear, he said, “Mrghejbhlblgh.” Yes. “Mrghejbhlblgh.” I even said, “excuse me?” and he said, “mrghejbhlblgh” again.

I’m almost positive that it wasn’t a word in any Earth language. I think he was just muttering something at me to get me to go away! I didn’t know, and I still don’t, if I should be offended that he didn’t have the decency to talk to me in actual Earth words, of if I’m stunned by his brilliance and, tomorrow, when I’m in my staff meeting and asked whether the project that is supposed to be done next September can’t be moved up to April or May, I’m going to adopt the strategy of speaking in mumble-speak and look confused when my co-workers act like they can’t understand me.

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