“What are you doing, Illegal Chihuahua?”

“I put Llama Louie where he belongs, right by the Senora’s Kwan-yin.”

“Why, dumb-dumb?”

“Llama Louie is my guru, so he should be by the Senora’s image for compassion.”

“Enough already with all these statues. Enough of the goddess of compassion, enough of gurus. Who needs them? Last I counted, there are some five altars inside the house, not to mention Kwan-yin outside, and now Llama Louie.”

“The Senora says we need all the help we can get.”

“From whom, Henry? Saviors? Gurus? Gods? What has any of them done for you lately?”

“Before Llama Louie came into the house, I was one pound underweight. He came, and in three days I gained a pound. All honor to Llama Louie.”

“And to the chicken and mashed potatoes that the Senora’s friend brought yesterday.”

“Before Llama Louie arrived, I had a terrible stomachache. He came and the stomachache stopped.”

“Maybe because you stopped eating grass, silly Chihuahua.”

“Before Llama Louie came, I was throwing the stuffed turtle and green alligator all over the house.”

“And now?”

“I’m throwing Llama Louie all over the house. But he is a great compassionate being who loves everyone, so he doesn’t mind.”

“You were an obsessive neurotic then, Henry, and you’re an obsessive neurotic now, which you can’t help because you’re a Chihuahua.”

“Llama Louie accepts me as I am. He has great compassion.”

“Here it is, the famous C word. Compassion compassion compassion. Everybody talks about it. What the hell does it mean?”

“It means—it means—”

“You can say it in Spanish, Mr. Illiterate.”

“It means—it means—”

“What? That you like everybody? That you’re kindly disposed to everyone?”

“That I act with loving kindness.”

“And where has that got you, Henry? What has that got any of us? What has that got everybody in the Middle East?”

“I don’t know, Aussie, but it makes sense. We’re all alike.”

“You and me—alike?”

“Llama Louie says that we all want the same things. We want grilled chicken if we can have it, kibble when we can’t get grilled chicken. We want water, walks, treats after walks, car rides, a warm blanket for the night, and marrow bones on Sunday morning. Don’t we all want that, Aussie? Have I missed anything?”

“Growling at the Federal Express truck. Scaring the hell out of anybody who comes down the driveway.”

“You see? We all want the same basic things. When we see that, we start working together.”

“That’s what I hate about all spiritual teachers. Dreamers, every single one of them. Not a practical bone in their entire body.”

“They’re completely practical, Aussie. If we all want the same things, why fight?”

“I hate spiritual teachers, Henry. What good are they? Loving kindness, compassion, deep listening, love, all a lot of hooey.”

“Llama Louie is not hooey.”

“All a bunch of do-nothings who live in a fantasy world. Humans are generally ridiculous, as you know, it’s why they get into so much trouble.”

“I love humans, Aussie. One day humans will see the errors of their ways and they’ll become more like us.”

“Listen, Illegal, do you know how humans refer to this world? Do you know how they explain it to their children when they teach them to beat up on the weaker kids and always, always come out on top? They tell them they got to do this because—get this, Henry—it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.”

“But we don’t eat each other, Aussie.”

“Damn right, pooch.”

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