Every time I talk to my mother on the phone, we do some version of the same joke. She asks about our dog, something like, “Does Rowlf know you’re having friends visit soon?”
I always answer, “I told him, but he doesn’t understand English.”
The other day, my friend Jenn, a Wyoming resident, mentioned that she wished she could ask her dog Murry 10 questions. Of course we can’t ask our dogs 10 questions—or we can, we just can’t expect answers from them. But what if we could? I started thinking about what I would ask Rowlf.
1. I notice you like to sniff animal feces. Like you get up super close to it, maybe even touching it with the tip of your nose. To humans, that’s kind of gross. Would you say you don’t differentiate between “good smells” and “bad smells,” and that it’s all just information gathering?
2. So, the rug: It’s literally the nicest rug we have, which I think you appreciate because it seems to be your favorite rug to lie on. So why, every time you have to vomit, do you rush over to that rug so you can throw up on it?
3. When you are asleep, which, let’s be honest, is about 60 to 70 percent of the day, and you’re dreaming, and your paws are making running motions while you sleep, are those happy dreams or not-so-happy dreams? Like are you being a hero and catching squirrels, or running from something scary?
4. Same question, but RE: when you are barking in your sleep
5. What do you think would happen if you actually caught one of those cats you are obsessed with on our walks? Because my money is on the cat, and you only seeing out of one eye the rest of your life.
6. When I get ready to leave the house and you start getting the feeling that you might not get to go with me, are you thinking “Maybe if I act in a way that makes him feel as badly as possible about leaving me, he’ll change his mind and take me,” or is it more vindictive, like “If I gotta lie here on the floor and be bored for anywhere from seven to 35 dog-hours, you are going to feel like SHIT for the exact same amount of time because you left me here”?
7. When you stand over a plant and poop on it, is that because you like pooping on plants, or you like to challenge my poop-picking-up skills?
8. Is it your interpretation that I am taking you for your walk, or would you say that you are taking me for my walk?
9. When you find some rotten old remnant of food or a piece of a dead animal on the street and you know you have maybe one or two seconds to decide whether to eat it or not, do you have any sort of process for that? Like, “Hmm, this seems suspect, and could potentially make me vomit or have diarrhea, and is possibly not food, but some sort of animal feces, maybe I should leave it alone”? Or is it kind of just “Fuck it, YOLO”?
10. Do you think I need to reply to the rest of these emails today, or should we go outside?