“Time To Set Boundaries” is today’s lesson from the dog trainer. I erect barriers that make the Berlin Wall seem like a friendly neighborhood decoration. The printed class sheet states that the boundaries should be non-confrontational. I greatly respect the dog trainer, an experienced professional and an intelligent woman, but she has yet to encounter the full cataclysmic force of the puppy. In class my baby is teacher’s pet. A show stopper. A tail-wagger. A happy, carefree example of good-natured dog-dom. Once alone with me, the situation deteriorates. Rapidly.
An electric-shock barbed-wire max-security prison enclosure could not keep the puppy from doing that which she does best, zinging the barbs of annoyance straight in my direction. Barriers? She leaps from chair to chair, hurdles an end table, sideswipes a pile of cartons, and finally nonchalantly flicks open the baby gate latch with a thrust of her long, disdainful nose, smirks at me and trots into my domain. So much for boundaries. I’m trying to submit some poetry. There’s a deadline. Can I make it?
“You’re supposed to stay on the sofa. Lie there. Chew your bone. Let me work.”
“I choose not to. I choose to check out whatcha typing. My choice.” She assumes a favorite perch at the back of my chair, leering over my shoulder like the vulture that she is. “Show me the cat again.”
“What cat?” Last week I mistakenly ran the Roger Morris video depicting his cat very solidly positioned across his shoulders as he wrote. A droll piece of civilized humor. A bit too subtle for the puppy. Why did I ever imagine one viewing would end it all?
“You know what cat. It’s a dumb cat, but show me anyway.” The puppy bangs down on the optical mouse, and we temporarily visit The Louvre. Not a bad hit. “Show me. I want the cat now!” The museum departs from the screen. Her paw is poised over the mouse again. We could end up in pay-for-porno-land. With seventy pounds of lunatic dog resting on my shoulder, I dutifully click on the cat.
As expected, the puppy only wants to brag about her own superiority. “That cat’s lazy and doesn’t say anything. I think it ought to participate more. Cats are stupid. I’m smart. I’m helpful. Why aren’t I in a video?”
“Because I can’t afford a video camera. I have to feed you, and then there’s your school, and remember your ballet.”
At the mention of ballet, her eyes gloss over. “You promised you ordered my tutu.”
“Of course I did. Pink with spangles, just what you asked for.” I openly lie. Puppy tutu, indeed. I attempt to ignore my wiggly shoulder decoration and concentrate on submitting some meaningful poetry to a meritorious literary journal. I’ve finally edited and re-edited and screwed my courage to the sticking place. I type in my personal information and the file location of my best work. An historic moment. This is it! I’m submitting! I could be published!
“Where’s my tutu? I wanna be a star. Buy a damn camera!” The puppy’s paw hits the mouse just as I tap “enter” and I discover that I have submitted my blog “Pavlova With Paws” and an empty order form for a pink spangled tutu to The Paris Review.
“Only one submission per writer per quarter, please.”
My chances for publishing acceptance and the puppy’s chances for a tutu are now even.
Causes Mara Buck Supports
Kennebec Valley Humane Society, Amnesty International