“Listen to this item from the Police Log, Aussie: 8:14 pm. 911 caller states his dog stepped on his phone and it dialed 911 in his shirt pocket. “


“Aussie, the police are overworked already, they don’t need 911 calls that come in for no purpose. It’s not bad enough that people make crank 911 calls, now dogs are making them, too.”

“The dog didn’t mean it, everybody does crazy things sometimes. Probably goes back to his mother.”

“What do you mean, Auss?”

“Doesn’t everything go back to the mother? Or maybe it’s that his father was never there.”

“Aussie, domestic dog fathers are usually not there. They impregnate the female and she’s the one who gives birth and raises the pups till they’re weaned. I’ve heard of very few exceptions. “

“I never knew my dad. If I had, I wouldn’t be the bitch I am today.”

“You’re not so bad, Aussie.”

“I bully Henry and talk bad about him and all other Chihuahuas, there’s no excuse for that. But you can’t imagine what it was like, growing up in a one-parent family. There were six of us who all came out at the same time. Sextuplets! My brother Alphonse would push my brother Jimmy out of the way, Jimmy would push me out of the way, so I had to push Lucinda out of the way. That’s how I learned to be a bully, it was the only way to survive!”

“That’s terrible, Aussie.”

“Once we started eating solid food mom left us alone for most of the day and I became a latchkey pup. If only Dad had been around.”

“What could he have done, Auss?”

“He could have taken us to the park on Sundays, brought us marrow bones. He could have shown us how to bite Amazon drivers.”

“I don’t want you to bite anybody, Aussie.”

“Not even Amazon drivers? The point is, I had no male role model. I‘m either too acquiescent—”

“You, acquiescent?”

“—or too tough. A bully or a marshmallow. No balance, no middle way, all because he wasn’t around. Not to mention that there was no one to encourage me or teach me stuff.”

“Like what?”

“Look at me. I have no good habits, no skills, I can’t go out and make my way in the world, I depend on you for everything.”

“That’s got nothing to do with not having a father in the house, that’s because you’re a domestic dog, Aussie. Domestic dogs connect with humans. You don’t want to be a wild African dog, their life is brutal and short. Most die by the time they’re six.”

“How old am I?”

“Five and a half. You’re approaching your prime. Aren’t you lucky you’re here in New England with me?”

“But I sleep all day. I’m bored all day except when Boris the big bear comes for a visit. I think I’ll go for my Ph.D.”

“Why should you go for a Ph.D., Aussie?”

“Isn’t that what you humans do when you’re bored?”

“Most people watch TV. Besides, Aussie, you can’t even read and write.”

“I can push buttons like that dog in the Police Log. Don’t you say I push your buttons all the time?”

“I don’t think you can get a Ph.D. by pushing buttons, Aussie.”

“You see? You never encourage me to do anything, you have no faith in me, you don’t really care. That’s why I miss not having Dad around. “

“What would you study anyway, Auss?”

“Dog Studies, of course. I’d be Dr. Aussie.”

“And what would you do your research on, Dr. Aussie?”

Canine Contributions to Populism, Election Denial, and Backyard Poop Control Since 1935. Watch, it’ll be a best-seller.”

“Ph.D. dissertations are rarely best-sellers, Aussie.”

“There you go again. Depress, demoralize, and disparage. Quick, give me your phone.”


“I’m pushing the button for 911. Reporting you for neglect, inattention, indifference, –”

“Anything else?”

“—and a general dampening of my spirit. And I’m leaving home. Going to look for Dad.”

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