“We’re on in five,” the show’s producer announced to the crew and guest panel, his eyes on the host, Alpo, making sure he had his attention, and then he wagged his very large, fluffy white Samoyed tail high above his back to the beat of the countdown. “Four, three, two, and you’re on!”
Alpo stared into the camera lens, the lens he loved and that adored him, and flashed his tiny schnauzer canines—exceptionally white against his black fur—at his millions of viewers and started the show. “Good evening, friends. Tonight on Sniff This! it’s the battle of the sexes, or rather, the lack of. It used to be a free for all, every dog for himself. The tasty tidbit belonged to whoever got to it first. But our culture seems to have entered a new era of politeness, where many males are deferring to females, giving up the best seats at the cat fights, even leaving the last bite in the bowl for their mates. I’m not one to not appreciate this new wave of politeness, but it seems to come with a cost.
“The birthrate is at an all-time low, barely holding our population levels steady, and shows signs of continuing its downward trend. Are we going the way of the two-leggers, becoming so sensitive, so fearful of giving offense, that we’re losing touch with our inner wolf until eventually we will fade away, leaving the cats to take their turn at the helm of this planet, and us our turn as their pets?” Alpo paused to shake his head in disgust at the thought. Head shaking could be heard off-camera all over the studio. He lapped a drink of water out of the bowl next to him and continued. “Our guests tonight are two of our regulars, Rex from the Daily Squirt and Sadie, who is out promoting yet another runaway bestseller, Taking the Litter Out: How to Get Rid of Those Pesky Adolescents.” The camera went to Rex, drool hanging from his jowls, then to Sadie, her retriever fur immaculately brushed, then back to Alpo. “And here for the first time are Shawn and Lindsey, a pair of Komondors taking a break from guarding their flock of sheep to give us their take as a modern couple.”
The camera focused on Shawn and Lindsey. If you took two dirty rope mops, turned them upside down and made the ropes three feet long, you would have how a Komondor appeared on television. Shawn and Lindsey sat so close together that their fur intertwined and they practically looked like a two-headed mop. They each had colored beads braided into their fur, which ran all the way to the floor and was such that their sex was visually indiscernible. Even their scents were so mingled with each other and with that of the sheep they lived with that Rex, a notorious Lothario, was confused as to which to give the eye to.
The camera returned to Alpo. “Rex, why don’t you get us started. Where do you put yourself on the politeness scale?”
The camera on him, Rex continued to stare confusedly at the two Komondors as he sniffed the air in their direction. It went against his nature not to hit on every female, available or not, but there was no way he was going to risk hitting on the wrong one.
“Uh, sorry. A little distracted, there. The scent of sheep is making me hungry.” Rex shook his jowls clear of drool. “To tell you the truth, Alpo, the fact that politeness is a legitimate topic of discussion scares the poo-poo out of me. It’s clear our culture is evolving, but at the cost of that inner essence of what makes each of us a dog. Passive-aggressive dogs are really becoming a problem. I can never tell where I stand with them until one of their friends tells me they’ve been trash-talking me behind my rear over some inconsequential comment I made to them ages ago. Dog, if you’ve got a problem, get in my face. Let me know about it. Don’t swallow it like a rock too big to pass and carry it around for ages.”
The camera snapped to Alpo. “A great lead-in for our show’s sponsor, Rex.” Alpo held up a tube of paste and flashed his canines at the lens. “To all of our beloved Labradors in the audience, why not try Rock-Ease and avoid those costly rock-removal surgeries? Guaranteed to pass even the biggest of stones.” He flashed his canines again and turned to look at Sadie off-screen; the camera followed his lead. “Sadie, I understand you were recently awarded Dame of the Year by Litter Magazine for your phenomenal whelping efforts. Congratulations. Just how many pups were in your most recent litter?”
“Well, thank you, Alpo, but I have to confess to having a small advantage being a golden and all. It’s not like a Jack Russell will ever have a chance at winning the award with their small litters of four to eight pups, though I don’t mean to diminish their efforts in any way. There were twenty-two pups in my last litter.”
Rex could be heard off-screen smacking his jowls. The camera flashed to him giving Sadie a salacious look, before returning to her.
“I wouldn’t have litter after litter if I didn’t enjoy being a mother so much,” Sadie said. “Given that, I feel very strongly that motherhood shouldn’t be entered into because it’s what is expected of you. You should feel a strong urge driving you in that direction to start with, and there’s nothing wrong if you don’t feel that urge. Nursing twenty-two pups is not for everyone. Even one or two can be a challenge. Keeping a clean whelping box takes work; there’s a lot of fecal matter and general mess, and there’s nothing worse than a poopy whelping box. That kind of imprinting can stay with a pup their entire life.”
“And on the issue of politeness, have we gone overboard?” Alpo said.
“Well, again, I’m a golden; we’re known for our politeness. When is the last time you heard of a golden robbing a bank? Stealing cookies, sure, but not bank robbery. That being said, we’re not pushovers and we usually get what we want through sheer determination. The truth of it is that there are a lot of dogs out there who simply don’t know who they are or what they want to be. We can blame it on whatever we want, poor imprinting as a puppy, under-socialization during the early years, lack of parenting, lack of being taught impulse control, but the end result is the same. A lot of lost dogs. We must embrace them and help them find their way. Not until then will they make good parents.”
The camera moved to Alpo. “Shawn, Lindsey, where are the two of you on all of this?”
The camera zoomed in on the pile of sheep-colored fur with two heads.
“We’re married,” one said.
“But haven’t had a litter yet,” the other said. Their voices were high pitched for such large dogs, and their delivery rapid.
“Nor plan to anytime soon.”
“We’ve considered adopting.”
“There are a lot of unwanted pups out there.” They glanced at each other.
“But we’re not sure if we’re ready for that level of commitment and responsibility.”
“We’re considering getting a pet.”
“Doing a dry run on the caregiver thing.”
“So to speak.”
“Maybe a cat.”
“Or a human.”
“Yes, a human.”
“One on the small side.”
“But we’ve heard they’re messy.”
Alpo was at a loss looking at them. He was finding it difficult to phrase his thoughts without being sarcastic. The dog behind the camera didn’t know who to focus on next, but he was saved by Rex who had no qualms about being sarcastic or offensive. His rating on the politeness scale was zero.
“So what then do the two of you do? Aside from choosing what color beads to braid into your fur, is there anything you can make up your minds about that isn’t too this or too that? Have you even figured out which of you is the boy and which is the girl?” He was spraying spittle with his emotionally slurred words. Some of it hit the camera lens as it pulled back to show Sadie offering Rex a tissue.
“On your chin.” She pawed her own chin. “You have a little something there.”
He waved the tissue away, staring at the two Komondors and their beaded fur. Beading of the fur was a fad among younger dogs that that really annoyed him. They might as well get their nipples pierced. “Well? What have you to say for yourselves?”
The two Komondors looked at each other, not saying anything.
“Pray to the bone! Say something!” Rex threw up his paws in exasperation. “This is what comes of being raised with sheep. Dog help us if we have to rely on them for the next generation of canines. Better start kissing up to those cats, dogs. They’ll be the ones dishing out the kibble soon enough.”
Even Sadie couldn’t help but nod in agreement. She looked at the Komondors, her brow knitted with concern. “You do know how to breed, right?”
Finally they spoke. “We prefer to call it lovemaking.”
Rex’s eyes were apoplectic as he barked, “Lovemaking? What kind of namby-pamby talk is that?” He stood up and started to pace. “You give the bitch a good shag and then go find a hydrant to piss on. What more to it is there?”
“You obviously haven’t read the Kama Sutra,” one of the Komondors said as the other smiled in agreement.
“Oh for the love of biscuits, just shoot me now.” Rex collapsed on the floor and buried his face in his paws. “I can’t take it any more.”
The camera was back on Alpo. “And that’s our show for tonight. Next week’s topic will be something that concerns us all—the shrinking national money supply. Is it time we switched to a non-edible biscuit of exchange? Until next week.”