Southeast of Disorder

A Conversation With Dog
October 2, 2007, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Dog | Tags: , ,

“So how’s what’s-his-name?” my brother asked. Even through the phone he sounded distracted.

“What’s-his-name? You mean my significant other?” I asked.

“No, no. Not Crabby. The little one — you know, uh…. Oh, the Mexican hairless!” he finally spat out in exasperation.

It’s usually a bad idea to take a big swig of liquid while talking to my brother. Some of the iced tea ended up on my shirt, and some ended up across the room. “Did you just say ‘Mexican hairless’?” I couldn’t suppress a chuckle.

jlpbandito2.jpg Dog raised his head from the couch, his ears standing at attention and displeasure in his eyes.

“You know who I mean,” Brother informed me sternly. “That little dog thing you have. Never mind. I don’t care anyway. Gotta go. Bye.”

“‘Mexican hairless’?” Dog asked, cocking his head and raising one eyebrow. “What kind of thing is that to say?”

“It’s an antiquated term for Chihuahua,” I told him.

“It’s rude,” he said, scowling. “Clearly it’s incorrect, and it’s ethnically insensitive.”

“Of course it’s incorrect,” I began blithely. “Wait a sec…. Did you just say ‘ethnically insensitive’?”

“I did,” he replied. “That sort of language is what leads to profiling.”

“Aw c’mon,” I groaned, rolling my eyes. “Let’s not start this. Surely you’re not going to tell me profiling is a problem for you. The only thing you’ve ever been ‘profiled’ as is small and cute.”

He sat up tensely. “And yappy and nervous and ill-tempered and helpless and foo-foo….”

“I am well aware of the power of words,” I interrupted. It wasn’t the first time we’d had this discussion. “But the only way they can hurt you is if you let them. Their power is all in your head.”

“Hmph,” he snorted. “And I suppose ‘Mexican hairless’ doesn’t carry any baggage.”

“I said it was antiquated,” I responded peevishly. “That means hardly anyone ever uses it.”

Dog was not to be swayed. “Next thing you know, he’ll be insisting I get a green card, mow his lawn and have myself neutered.” He shook himself from end to end to resettle his fur, jangling his tags in the process. “I’m not even from Mexico! I was born in Conroe.”

“You speak Spanish.”

Un pocotito.

“You’re not helping your argument,” I told him.

“Besides, we perform a vital function in this country,” he continued. “We do the jobs other dogs don’t want to do.”

“I realize it must be a terrible strain on you to be peppy, portable and precious at all times,” I said, “but I assure you, The Man appreciates your sacrifice. Besides, it’s not like your civil rights are in jeopardy.”

“Hmph,” he repeated. “Let my people go.”

“This people is going into the other room if you’re going to be such a sourpuss.”

“I’m just sayin’,” he continued. “We’ve been stereotyped for generations, and it’s about time that sort of behavior stopped — before things get ugly.”

jlpbandito_100207.jpgI was only vaguely disquieted by the suggestion, but I had to ask, “Ugly?”

He curled one side of his upper lip so just the tip of one fang showed. The sudden image of a pack of tiny canine guerillas clad in bandoliers and serapes flashed before my mind’s eye.

I sighed. “Okay, then, what would ‘your people’ prefer to be called?”

“Chihuahua-Americans,” he pronounced succinctly, slipping in a sneeze at the end.

“I’m not sure I can get the punctuation right,” I told him. I’ve never been a particularly adept sneezer. “But I’ll spread the word. And what do I get in return?”

“I shouldn’t have to make deals in order to loose the unjust shackles of society’s oppression,” he said, laying his ears flat against his neck and gazing up at me with big, sad Chihuahua-American eyes.

“And I shouldn’t have to feed you homemade treats precisely at 7 p.m. daily, either.”

“You do that because you love me,” he responded, climbing into my lap and licking my wrist.

“Yes, and you should make the deal because you love me, too.” I scratched him behind one diminutive ear. “How ’bout no more scooting under the bed to avoid capture? I’m not as young as I used to be, you know.”

“Even when it’s time for a bath?” he asked, turning his head so I could scratch behind the other ear.

“Especially when it’s time for a bath.”

He stood on his hind legs, placed two tiny front paws on my chest and gazed directly into my eyes for a good, long while. I think he forgot we weren’t playing “Alpha Dog,” because when I spoke it surprised him. “Well?”

“Oh, all right,” he said, a bit miffed. “I’ll do my best to respond positively to the voice of doom. Satisfied?”

“One small concession from Chihuahua-American kind; one giant boon to bad knees,” I replied, grinning and extending one hand. “Shake on it?”

“How ‘bout we seal the deal with a snack instead?” He stretched languorously and then hopped down from the couch and trotted toward the kitchen, his nails making little clicking sounds on the floor as he went. “I’m in the mood for some yogurt.”