Mike Dariano

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Dog (book excerpt)

At some point in our lives we believe ourselves capable of having another living thing depend on us for its survival. Some mammalian instinct takes over and you decide to own a dog. Sometimes this happens before children, often afterwards. The dog will be the final piece of the Rockwellian image of your family, except that instead of a portrait of the perfect family you’re going to be covered in slobber and hair.

There is one and only one practical reason to get a dog, they eat everything off the floor. Their singular positive skill shines even more brightly around children. Any dropped cereal or spilled milk will be nothing to cry over because the dog will dutifully run over, look at you and in that moment of connection between man and beast, say to you, “I got this.” This is the only thing dogs are good for besides the love they bring to you.

Don’t even think about getting a cat. Cats don’t clean up the food that gets dropped on the floor. In fact I can’t believe you’re reading this, I didn’t think people who owned cats even knew how to read.

After dogs complete their one helpful task everything else is downhill, and you’ll be making that trip covered in hair. We own a labradoodle, a cross between a labrador and standard poodle. She weighs seventy pounds and her breed began because people desired her below average shedding and above average intelligence. In a sense I have the smartest, hypoallergenic breed which came into existence only to help people. This is not my dog.

My dog sleeps on my bed, serving to anchor the blankets in whatever configuration they were in when she landed. As a puppy she used to eat everything, especially the right shoe of a pair. We lost three pairs of shoes because she ate only the right one. Despite her hypoallergenic super power she still sheds and these balls of hair dance mockingly across the our hardwood floors. Eating shoes weren’t the worst thing she ate, baby things were the worst. She would gnaw on soiled diapers and eat entire baby wipes. I’ll spare you the details but those don’t pass easily.

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