Aussie hiding in a pool

“Aussie, I think you’re on the spectrum.”

“Of course. All the way to the right.”

“I don’t mean the political spectrum, Auss. I mean the autism spectrum.”

“Of course. I’m a car ride fanatic.”

“No, no, no, Aussie. If you’re on the spectrum you may be suffering from certain behavioral patterns that are neuro-diverse.”


“I know, autism is getting harder and harder to define, especially because it shows up in so many different ways. In your case, you’re not the most emotionally expressive canine in the world. Remember when I got you out of the shelter the other day after the big storm, when you ran and the police picked you up?”

“You mean, the jail.”

“Whatever. You were happy to see me, but not that happy.”

“It’s the Middle Way. I’m Buddhist, not autistic.”

“You didn’t run around in circles of joy, you didn’t jump on me or lick my face.”

“Did Bernie do any of those things?”

“Not much. You often don’t communicate.”

“You mean, when you call me to come and I don’t come? When my favorite human in the entire world, my dogwalker Leeann, calls me, I always come. Do you think I leave my autism behind when I go to her?”

“Your range of interests is very narrow.”

“Food and Trump. Also, deporting Henry. Who needs anything more to give life meaning?”

“You do repetitive, meaningless tasks.”

“Chasing rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks, and breaking out of the fence. Repetitive, yes. Meaningless, no.”

“You’re glad to see people, but then you just go to your spot and stay there. No social interaction.”

“Call it the Eastern touch. 25% of me is Shar-pei. What is it with you humans?”

“What do you mean, Aussie?”

“You create something you call normal, and everything that’s slightly different is crazy.”

“Not crazy, Auss, just—”

“Not normal, neurodiverse, who cares? You give everything names and labels, spectrums and ranges, ratings and numbers. You break down everything more and more and more till, in the end, very few normal humans are left. For example, are you normal?”


“You wake up every morning a little depressed, right?”

“Yeah, but not so—”

“You shower every morning. That’s obsessive-compulsive.”

“Hold on a moment, Aussie.”

“You work every day, including weekends.”

“I like to exercise my writing chops daily.”

“That’s manic. But you’re also manic-depressive because at times you just sit there without doing anything.”

“That’s called meditation, Aussie.”

“I’m describing what I see while you give them names. You like to stack up empty Ben & Jerry’s ice cream pint containers.”

“I love ice cream!”

“Some would call that addiction. You light incense in front of a wooden woman and talk to her every morning. That’s delusional.”

“I like invoking Kwan-yin. As for talking to a wooden woman, I also talk to you, Aussie, and you’re a dog.”

“You can’t think of half the words you want to say. You could use help with language development.”

“I need help with my memory! Getting old is not an illness, Aussie.”

“You humans will make it an illness any day now. Not feeling up to running 5 miles a day? Working till you drop? Not feeling like cooking that huge Thanksgiving meal for the 55th time? Clearly something’s wrong with you. Go see a doctor, quick!”

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