“Aussie, I’m beginning to talk to myself. Am I losing it? I’m even wondering if you’re not a figment of my imagination.”

“You wish!”

“Maybe not all of you—I can feel your soft fur and your silky ears—but your voice may be a figment of my imagination, Aussie.”

“What? You think you have it in you to be as tough as me, as annoying and frustrating, as BITCHY as me?”

“I’m surprising even myself.”

“No, no, no, Boss. If you want to create a voice, create Harry. Just look at him: does whatever you tell him, sweet, curls himself all around like a ball (I never do that!), will even sleep in your bed (though naturally he prefers to sleep with me downstairs), a dog who’ll do anything for food. No pride whatsoever. That’s more up your alley, Boss. I’m Aussie. You can’t conceive of my cleverness, my wickedness, my in-your-faceness. You can’t make me up even if you tried.”

“Aussie, it’s well known that many people with dogs project their personality onto their dogs. Or else their needs or their fantasies. Any chance I’m doing that with you?”


“I’ve never seen someone so full of herself.”

“Excuse me, Boss, am I supposed to be just half of myself? Maybe a quarter?”

“I’m starting to worry, Aussie. What happens if your voice is my voice? What happens if you’re showing me a side of my personality I didn’t know I had?”

“Don’t worry about it, I’m beyond your personality, beyond your imagination. Which means I’m real.”

“Nobody’s beyond my imagination, Auss. You’re as real and unreal as everything else.”

“Oh Donald, here we go again. More Buddhist brain-dead voodoo pabulum.”

“Excuse me, Auss?”

“Those are the words used by my poet friend, Linda McCullough Moore, for people who talk like you. Except she didn’t say Buddhist. I added that.”

“Who talk like what, Aussie?”

“Who say stuff like it’s real and unreal. Who say everything is empty. Let me tell you, Boss, if my dog bowl was empty I wouldn’t be sticking around. Who always second-guess how they feel, especially if it’s intense: I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but . . . Who always finish a sentence with the same words no matter what. They could be saying I’m getting really upset about having to stay home all this time or I hate the chili you made for dinner or I miss my mother. And then they always add the same words.”

“What words, Aussie?”

But I have to let it go. I have to let it go! I have to let it go! If I hear I have to let it go one more time I’ll become an attack German Shepherd.”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“There you go again: Maybe, maybe not. What the hell does that mean? No wonder we dogs have no idea what you people are talking about! Do you hear us talking like that?”

“Yes and no.”

“More brainless pabulum. It’s either yes, or it’s no.”

“You don’t really know that, Auss.”

“Trust me, I know there’s a yes and I know there’s a no. I already know what you’re going to say next.”

“You shouldn’t know so much.”

“I knew it. Next you’ll tell me that I should not-know. You call this language? You call this communication? You call this a religion?”

“What religion, Aussie?”

“Your Buddhism. I never heard of a more fakakht religion. Everything is no or not: not-knowing, non-thinking, hearing that is non-hearing, speaking that is non-speaking. I hear you chant the Heart Sutra where it says that there is suffering and also no suffering, ignorance and no ignorance—Can’t you Buddhists make up your minds!”

“That’s exactly what we do, Aussie, we make up our minds. It’s all story.”

“Well, your story drives me crazy. When will it ever end?”

“There’s no beginning and no end, Aussie.”

“This religion is not fun. I mean, what’s a religion for if you can’t swear to anything? If you can’t be self-righteous, if you can’t be a know-it-all?”

“You can be a not-know-it all, Auss.”

“I’m outta here.”

“There’s no inside, no outside, Auss.”

“Oh yeah? Watch me jump the fence.”