Weh-heh-hell, it was bound to happen. As I mentioned, we got a puppy a few months ago, and have spent the summer training him. This morning on our front porch, we found a copy of a children’s book called Orville: A Dog Story. Written inside the cover was this note:
Here is a wonderful story of a dog, passed on to you with love.
When you are done reading about Orville, you may keep the book or pass it on to someone else.
From a friendly stranger
The book is about a dog who has had a bunch of different owners, all of whom had hearts of stone and did not understand dogs. An excerpt:
There had been other people, too, whose smells gave their whole lives away, but he had left them. There were some things he remembered (a leaky doghouse at the edge of a muddy yard, a little girl who carried a one-eyed doll), but mostly he tried to forget.
Everywhere he had ever lived involved a chain, and he had broken every one, and there were six spots on his neck where hair didn’t grow because the chains had rubbed it off.
Things just get worse from there for this canine David Copperfield, this furry Ivan Denisovich, this four-footed, slobbering, kibble-munching Job. His new owners chain him up in the mud, giving him little more than straw and ice for sustenance.
Night after night, Orville thought about the world, and all his sadness turned angry. He knew about the broken hearts of people, and how they failed to love and do right, and knowing what he knew just made him want to bark. He took to barking.
I kinda skimmed the rest, but after that I guess he eventually meets some orphan named Sally who has blonde curls and is just as lonely as he is, and they find solace with each other, and nobody even needs to be chained up ever again, because when there is love and understanding, there are no chains . . .
and if Orville had found a harmonica
(N.B.: This is still a dog we’re talking about.)
and if he’d known what a harmonica was, he would have picked it up and given it a toot, just like that.
Just like that, indeed. If someone had given our dog a harmonica, he would have gobbled it up and then frantically galloped around the yard with a musical butt for the next week, just like that. But that’s neither here nor there.
Why, you may ask, did someone give us this book? What crimes against doghood did we commit, to earn this gentle rebuke, with the nice pictures for kids, like this one:
We racked our brains, and this is what we came up with:
Sometimes we tie him up. On a sixty-foot lead, with a trolley. For ten minutes or less, by the clock. We do this when he is in one of those moods where he is so wildly in love with us that he just can’t help devouring us. We feel that it’s important to instill a strict No-Devouring policy in him now, while he is still only about forty pounds of exuberant muscle, because within a year, he will be tall enough to eat off the top of the refrigerator. Did I mention that he is half German Shepherd, half Great Dane? Did I mention that he spends 25% of his life sleeping on the couch, 25% of his life eating the baby’s food while she laughs and tries to lick him, 25% of his life pooping or watching someone else clean up his poop, 24% of his life playing wild chasing and wrestling and tickling games with nine children who adore him, and 1% of his life tied up?
Anyway, back to our cruelty. When he’s tied up for five or ten minutes by the clock, he barks for a while, then he lies down. We peek out the window to see if he’s learned his lesson, and then we rush out and shout, “WHO’S A GOOD DOG? ARE YOU A GOOD DOG?” and hug him we give him a bacon-flavored treat.
Diabolical, isn’t it?
Well, I’ll tell you, we’ve learned our lesson. I’m never going to tie up our precious pup again. If he decides he wants to chew on our faces, we’re going to let him, because love!!!1! We are also planning on buying the poor guy his own harmonica, because you have to admit, that would be entertaining.
Also, I’m going to take our benevolent stranger’s advice and pass the book along. Who wants it? Tell me your most irritating or outrageous “interfering stranger” story in the comment box, and the best one wins a slightly chewed-up copy of Orville: The Dog Who Loved Too Much.