‘Dog Deuteronomy’ by Larry Good
…For as you dwell in the house of thy Master, so must you abide by the rules of the Master, and though you may not understand, still you must obey, and though you may not remember all of the rules, still, you must remember “come,” “off,” “down,” and “no,” above all others, and at all times. And though you may not know the reasons, you must believe that there are reasons, and with this faith, you must obey.
For these are the rules of the house, and here you will dwell in happiness and service, and you will not defile the hygiene or aesthetics of this house. And when there is a place that you would go, but where you cannot go, you will neither mar the woodwork, nor shred the draperies. No.
Together we shall dwell within this house in harmony and love, and when the cats are moved to travel, allow them to pass, for they too are creatures of this house, and their journey is to be allowed unimpeded, and they are not to be frightened upward from the floor onto tables, chairs, counters, lamps, and onto the very surfaces from which we prepare our food, eat our meals, and place our dishes.
And when the dishes are stacked in the dishwasher, and yet upon them food and gravy cling unto the rims of plates and bowls, then perhaps, with the invitation of me, thy Master, perhaps then, you may taste of the dirty dishes, as the dishwasher shall soon purify them from the vileness of thine tongue. But when the dishes smell of lemon freshness, and are sparkling clean and moist from rinsing, then you may not slake your thirst upon them, for they are clean, and you are not.
I know that you are vile and unclean, for I know that a miracle did not bring this abomination to the dining room that is properly found only in the cat box, and I know that the color of your hair is possessed by none others in this house, and I know the mighty stench of your breath. I know all, and am omniscient in this house.
Bark not above all the sounds of this house, for the arrival of all visitors shall be heralded just the same in a quiet voice as in the voice of a lion. And leap not upon the esteemed guests of this house, for thy unshod feet may cause grievous injury, and the guests within the Master’s house do not enjoy this great welcome bestowed upon them. And though your greeting is chaste and friendly, only those within this house understand that. Resist this temptation, and you shall be rewarded.
And when thy foot is soiled, indeed also when thy foot is not soiled, tread not upon the furniture, as the claws of your feet and the soil upon them may destroy the raiments of this house, and thine footprints thereon leave evidence of thy transgressions and offend me and all in my house. If there is quiet time, as in watching television, and if your feet are clean, and if you are invited upon the couch, then you may join us thereon. But there will be no licking.
And though you can lick yourself, and lo, you can lick yourself anywhere that you choose, and though you do this whenever you think of it, you may not do so within the sight of your Master, for this is blasphemous to me. And if you do this under my sight, and if there are visitors present, and so I do not call attention to your heathen behavior, it is because I am protecting us all from embarrassment. But if it be within thine power to stop, then do so, and at once, and you shall be rewarded.
And if there comes to pass a meal time, taken not at the table, but on the couch in front of the television, and though your interest in foods of all types extends beyond the scope of your experience, so that you would steal the food left however briefly whilst someone hastens to get a drink, or a napkin, or salt, resist this temptation, for this is bad, and you shall surely be caught, and you shall surely be punished, and you shall surely be beaten smartly upon the hindquarters.
And if your curiosity leads you closer to the food, so that you may sniff, or even lick the food, then “back up” I command, for this is too close, and you may approach the food only within two cubits, and even this is one cubit too close.
And if you think that you are fooling me by pretending that you only want to rest your weary head upon my leg, and that leg is within the proscribed two cubit range, then “back up” I say, for I am not fooled, and you must rest your weary head elsewhere.
Rules for outside the house:
Just as these rules you must abide by inside the dwelling of the Master, so are there rules elsewhere, outside the dwelling. There are laws for in the yard which you call your own and mark accordingly, and beyond there are laws for in the park, and on the sidewalk, and in the wild habitat of the wild beasts that you would chase and conquer. So hear these rules and obey:
Go not, upon the tended gardens of the gentle folk of this town, but wait, wait until the gardens are untended and wild. Then you may go.
But when you must go, and what must come to pass shall be number two, then you must go deeper into the wild and untended places, for as you stand in the manner of a hood ornament, this posture is recognizable to all, and from great distance, and from the front, and from the side, and from the back, verily, all who may look upon you shall recognize what you are doing, and so you have forsaken both privacy, and dignity, both for you, and for your Master.
Do not bark at, or sniff upon the stranger as he passeth upon the sidewalk, for he is neither friend nor foe, and passeth in peace, as you too, shall pass in peace.
Though a leash is a detestable and unnatural extension of the bond between animal and Master, do not bite it, do not attempt to wrest it from the Master’s grip. This you cannot change. Though you are free in spirit, and animal in nature and do not understand this burden upon your neck, walk with grace and patience, and do not strain upon this tether until thine Master is angered, or until you cannot breathe without making that choking sound, for thy straining is an embarrassment, and that choking sound offends me.
Trespass not upon the yard of our neighbors. Although you can leap the fence, and gambol and frolic down there, you are not big enough to leap back into your own yard, and you shall surely be caught and punished.
When outside, you shall come whensoever that the Master requests it. Whether commanded in a friendly tone of voice, or in a stern, loud, angry, worried or impatient tone of voice, you shall come, and you shall come without hesitation, and without stopping to sniff unseen phantoms that appear to be of interest to you.
Now, should it come to pass that these rules are learned and obeyed without transgression, then in the eyes of all, you will be a good dog, and worthy of the greatest praise. And this praise will be given, and the joy and happiness within the house of the Master will increase a hundredfold, as shall your own joy and happiness. And that is good. And you shall be rewarded.
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