“Would you get away from her, Henry? Get away from her!”

“I just want to jump on her lap.”

“Get away from her, Henry, you little—”

“Aussie, come on, Henry hasn’t had any time with me this morning. Now he wants to jump on my lap so that I could pet him.”

“No. When you pet me, you pet me. You don’t do nothing else.”

“Aussie, I have two hands and there are two dogs here, so Henry will jump on my lap, one hand can pet him and one hand keeps on petting you.”

“And you call yourself a practitioner? You call yourself a meditator? Stroking a dog is all about single-minded attention.”

“But Aussie—”

“Stroking me requires you to be fully present, plunging into every single hair of my gorgeous fur. You, of all people, should know that. ”

“Aussie, you have so many thousands of those hairs I can’t—”

“Obviously, you’re a mindfulness rookie. If you weren’t, you’d know that when you stroke me, every single hair in my body is a gate into not-knowing, total awareness, and oneness with the universe. Don’t you know anything?”

“You mean, bearing witness, Aussie?”

“Who’s the teacher here, for dog’s sake?”

“But what am I bearing witness to, Aussie?”

“To the essence of dogginess, numbskull.”

“Is the essence of dogginess so important, Aussie?”

“It depends on whom you’re asking.”

“But Aussie, Henry’s here, too. Can’t I bear witness to the essence of dogginess with Henry?”

“With Henry you’ll bear witness to the essence of chihuahuaism, not a place you want to go. Besides, once you start with Henry, you never finish.”

“What do you mean, Auss?”

“Henry brings the entire mishpucha with him. First, he comes up on your lap. Then, he brings you his monkey, then Pinky the Elephant, then Red the Hippo, and before you know it there’s a whole menagerie for you to take care of—and I’m not getting petted!”

“Yes, you are.”

“Just look at our border situation. It starts with Henry, who brings his brother, who brings his mother-in-law, who brings two cousins and a grandson, who brings his new girlfriend, who brings her godmother, who brings a cat. Before you know it, you have to take care of EVERYBODY, and what do I get? Bupkes.”

“You know, Aussie, there is some truth to what you’re saying. Once you start caring for something or someone, it really doesn’t end. After all, if we’re all connected, one thing leads to the next which leads to the next, which leads to the next.”

“Think of all the stroking you have to do!”

“I’d have to pace myself, Aussie. Stroking everybody in the world is one long trip. I’m going to have to be reborn lots of times to do that.”

“And meantime, who’s scratching the top of my tail, the one place I can’t reach? While you get born and reborn and re-reborn to fulfill your vows to scratch everybody who needs scratching, who scratches the top of my tail? Which reminds me, I wish you’d let your nails grow, they add that extra sharp edge, know what I mean? Forget all about that and scratch me.”

“I’m doing it, Aussie, I’m doing it.”

“Forget Henry, forget other dogs, forget the world, focus on just one thing, and scratch the top of my tail.”

“I’m scratching, Aussie, I’m scratching!”


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