When dogs inherited the earth, their society evolved into one somewhat like the human society that preceded it. The television equivalent of the day, a popular talking heads show dealing with current issues, Sniff This!, aired as frequently as the show's producer could gather a panel of distinguished guests in the studio without any fights breaking out. Biting was tolerated, but breaking the skin was frowned upon. The host of Sniff This! was a schnauzer who wore his fur fashionably long to hide his eyes, which he felt put him at a conversational advantage. His black fur tonight glistened as always under the studio lights as two French poodles groomed him in the moments before the show went live.
The production manager, an oversized Samoyed with a penchant for getting burrs in his fur, which really distressed the poodles, strutted across the set, snapping his jaws. "Canines! Clear the set! We're going live in five, four, three-" he looked at the host "-You look great, Alpo. Give it to 'em. Two, and one."
Alpo looked into the camera lens, jostled his fur out of his eyes and smiled, showing a full set of teeth, some capped with gold. "Pissing contests among our youth. Has it gotten out of paw? Our pack of distinguished guests tonight includes Rex from the Daily Squirt, Sadie, the author of the bestseller, How Many Fathers Do I Have? A Journey of Discovery in Finding My True Sire, and to get an alternate species point of view, we have a live feed from the Bonopolis City Zoo where they keep several of the two-legger breeding pairs."
* * *
Comfortably stretched out on his back in the family den, Dexter watched Sniff This! "Hey, pups, come on in here. There's going to be a two-legger on TV. They're going to get him to talk."
Three puppies ran into the den, half mauling one another as they did. "A two-legger, oh dog, their bald butts sure look funny," one of the boys said.
The girl sat in front of the screen. "I've never heard a two-legger talk. I still don't think they can. They're too slow to talk."
The third pup sat next to his sister. "We learned in school that they sweat all over, every patch of their skin sweats."
His sister leaned away from him. "That's gross. You always bring up the gross stuff."
Dexter smiled at his pups. "I'm not so sure they talk as much as shout. And they only know a few words like, sit, down, stay, and no. They like to say no a lot."
The screen image widened to include the host and his two guests sitting opposite him. "Let's start with you, Rex. Are these pissing contests among our youth getting just a bit too crazy?"
Rex was a burly bulldog, overweight in middle age. "Well, I hate to be the one to say it, Alpo, but it's not just our young. This pissing contest craze has gotten hold of quite a few adults, especially us males. I was in a public urinal just this morning and it wasn't half a second after I finished before several males were lined up to pee just where I had gone. It seems the more masculine one is, the more who line up to pee where you pee. At this rate, my scent will be so drowned out by these wanabees that nobody will know I was ever there."
"I'd like to add to that if I may, Alpo." Sadie was a petite golden retriever with heavily groomed fur. "The real troublemakers are the poop-eaters. Half the time it doesn't even make it to the ground, let alone stay there to mark your spot. It is so hard to find a place to go when you can't find the last place you went because someone has snatched your poop."
Rex nodded his big jowls. "That's so true. It took me ten minutes this morning and I had to start a whole new spot. I don't know about you, Alpo, but I'm not much of a morning dog, so making a lot of decisions first thing out of bed is something I try avoid."
Sadie nodded her agreement. "The next thing you know, the poop-eaters are going to take after the boys doing the pissing contest and turn it into an eating contest."
Alpo cleared his throat. "Let's be fair, Sadie. There are a lot of closet poop eaters out there. Even I, in my puppyhood, dabbled with poop, and I'm sure even you can't say you've never eaten cat poop."
Sadie shook her head. "That's totally different. Cat poop is like finding a half-eaten candy bar on the ground. What dog in her right mind would pass that up?"
Rex nodded his big jowls again.
Alpo jerked his head to hide his eyes behind his fur. "Now let's go to the Bonopolis City Zoo and get our two-legger's take on this."
The screen changed to reveal a naked man sitting cross-legged in a grass pen. "Oh my, look at all that baldness. Aren't you cute," Alpo said patronizingly, as if speaking to a puppy. "You must be cold with all that skin showing. Have you been able to follow our discussion?"
The man nodded.
"And what is your opinion on it all?"
The man stared into the camera. "Poop eating isn't our thing. We don't do it."
Rex's rumble of a chuckle was heard off-screen. "No, we all know when you're in your kennel what you're too busy doing."
Sadie joined in with a snicker.
The man blushed slightly. "What I'm confused about is here you are with all this technology-you can speak to dogs all over the world with your show-and what do you choose to discuss?"
Dexter's litter of puppies stared at the screen, heads cocked to the side, waiting to hear the answer.
"Pee and poop!" the man spat out the words as if they were curses.
The screen image shifted back to Alpo and his two guests, with a screen within a screen showing the naked two-legger, as Sadie said, "Complain and criticize. No wonder the two-leggers went out of fashion as pets."
"But why talk about poop when there's so many more important things to discuss?" the two-legger said.
Sadie nudged Rex. "If the two-legger were the host, we know what it would be talking about. Sex, sex, sex. They can't even wait to go into season before they're all over each other."
Rex nudged her back. "So right. You're about to come into heat, if I sniff you right. Got any mates lined up?" He eyed her up and down. "Feel like having some mutts?"
Alpo cut in and the camera went to him. "Now here's a word from our sponsor, Flea Be Gone! For when your mate brings home the nasties." The screen cut to a commercial.
In unison, the puppies turned to look at their dad and said, "They had two-leggers as pets? Can we, Daddy? Can we get a two-legger?"
"I'll feed him," the girl said.
"And I'll walk him," one of the boys said.
Dexter smiled. "But who'll clean up after him?"
The two puppies who had spoken looked at the third. "He will. He's one of those poop-eaters they were talking about."
"I am not," the third puppy whined.
* * *
One dog buckled a collar around the male two-legger's neck while the other scratched the patch of fur on his head. "That's a good boy," he said when the collar was firmly attached and a nice leather lead was attached to that. "Come along. Let's get you back to your kennel. Your bitch is missing you and we got a big bucket of that slop you like so much waiting for you."
The three of them left the patch of green grass, a dog on either side of the human. One dog looked across at the other and said, "I think he did pretty well, all considering."
The other dog chuckled. "Considering what he could've done, it was a big success."
"You make it sound like we just dodged a disaster."
"Don't you think? You've seen what he gets up to when left alone. A couple strokes of that on live television and you could say goodbye to our funding."
The human looked at one dog, then the other. He hated being talked about like he wasn't there or didn't understand. It was as if they didn't think he had any feelings. Well, he did, damn it. He didn't know how, but he'd get his chance and he'd show these two. Maybe they'd have him on live television again and if that was what they were afraid of, then he'd show them some stroking. Serve them right for treating him like a.... He searched for the appropriate word and found it. Like a dog.
Raud Kennedy is a writer and dog trainer in Portland, Oregon. To learn about his most recent work, Portland, a collection of short stories, please visit www.raudkennedy.com