Walking on the Robert Frost Trail

“Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Aussie, Happy birthday to you.”

“Leave me alone.”

“It’s your birthday, Aussie. You’re 6 years old.”

“Big deal.”

“A dog in her prime. This morning I thanked Bernie quietly for asking to get another dog quickly after Stanley died, whereas I could have waited. You were his gift to me because he died 45 days later. Aussie? Aussie? Aren’t you going to say anything?”

“I’m not saying another word.”

“Why, Auss?”

“Because you’re going to put it on your blog, and you know where that goes.”

“To readers?”

“Hell no, it goes to AI. And AI is going to create an image of me that looks nothing like me, and it’s going to quote all the wise things I say and get millions of hits, and where will I be throughout all this?”

“Bupkis Land?”

“Are they giving me money? Steak for my birthday? Are they giving me marrow bones? Are they giving me anything? Are they even sending me a happy birthday card, the kind with the pop-up cupcakes that have no smell? They are not. THEY’RE JUST USING ME TO MAKE MONEY!”

“It’s terrible, Aussie.”

“You’re telling me! I should go on strike, like the actors and writers in Hollywood.”

“Like the auto workers.”

“Do they think I come cheap? Do they understand how hard I’ve worked to become everybody’s most loveable and trustworthy dog, the canine Walter Cronkite? What about the fan letters I get inviting me to hang out with other dogs and teach them tricks? I have become a model for good canine citizenship. An Influencer!”

“Wow, you mean there’s an Influencer right in my own home and I never knew?”

“Old people know nothing.”

“Other than voting for Donald Trump, what else are you influencing your millions of followers to do, Aussie?”

“Purina is asking me to talk about their latest no-gluten vegan pheasant treats, made specially for dogs who love birds. Ruffwear wants me to model their latest red vest for anxious dogs, and Chewy’s wants me to sleep soundly on their anti-anxiety bed. The best offer yet comes from CVS.”

“The drug store? What do they want?”

“They want me to walk up and down by their entrance with a banner: Opioids are good for you. They’re sending millions of cameras. I’m going to lose all this once AI takes over the world.”

“Aussie, you don’t need to be an Influencer. You have everything you need right here: A sofa and rug on which to sleep, good food, daily walks—”


“Okay, not today because It’s raining. You go out with Leeann’s pack twice a week. You have Lori and Chihuahua Henry here, not to mention Henry’s entire menagerie of stuffed squeaky toys. What more could a dog want?”

“More! More! More!”

“Why, Aussie? You’re getting so anxious lately. I try taking you to the zendo, you won’t come out of the car because of the nearby shooting range. I try taking you outside but you’re afraid of the new dog living down the road. What’s going on? You used to be such a confident and curious dog, ready to go everywhere. Now look at you.”

“It’s all because I am turning 6.”

“So what if you’re turning 6?”

“I‘m getting older!”

“You’re always getting older, Aussie.”

“Yeah, but now I am really older. Not getting older, just older! I’m going to die.”

“Aussie, they say that the minute you’re born you start dying, right?”

“But who knew? Now that I‘m turning six I really know it. Of course, I’m getting hysterical. Anyone who really knows they’re going to die should get hysterical.”

“Not necessarily, Aussie.”

“When I turn 6 I’m over the hill, nobody will be interested in what I eat or say or where I sleep. It’ll be the end of my career as an Influencer. In fact, even AI won’t care, and when AI doesn’t care, you know you’re a real has-been.”

“Aussie, I hope you have many more years ahead of you. Here’s to more talks and more walks.”

“How about a birthday gift? Just one thing I want.”

“Sorry, girlfriend. Not voting for Donald Trump.”

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