I am operating a barbecue grill. I’m making burgers and it’s not easy because I have a wild puppy named Thelma Lou who cannot sit still.
She is ten weeks old. Her paws are bigger than her head, her ears drag on the ground. She pees whenever the spirit moves.
And right now, she is chasing a neighborhood kid named Tyler, who is babysitting her. I’ve paid Tyler ten dollars to entertain her.
And he’s entertaining, all right. She is a speeding black-and-tan blur, only visible by high-tech slow-motion cameras. And she’s his problem right now.
I gave Tyler simple instructions:
“Make sure she goes pee pee,” I said.
This is of congressional importance because Thelma Lou has been known to get so excited she pees on me for kicks.
Anyway, I am sporting an apron my wife bought me. On the front it reads: “I like pig butts and I cannot lie.”
I’m no grill master, but I make okay hamburgers. It took me a whole year to perfect my recipe. It’s not complicated, but it takes concentration. And you can’t concentrate while babysitting a puppy.
Believe me, I tried this a few days ago. I ended up chasing the black-and-tan streak across the Southeast United States. I ran with a spatula held above my head, hollering: “Quit that!” And: “Stop chewing my wallet!” And: “Get away from that dead possum!”
But you can’t control Thelma. She enjoys chewing more than she enjoys peeing. In fact, chewing is her God-given talent you could say.
If, for instance, I were to enter Thelma in one of those TV-show talent contests, Thelma would win.
“… And thanks for watching America’s Most Talented Pets, folks. Our next contestant is Thelma Lou. Thelma will disassemble a Stradivarius cello using only her teeth, then urinate on its remains while howling ‘Moon River’ in the key of F sharp.”
Neil Diamond, eat your heart out.
She chews everything. She will gnaw on sticks, furniture, past issues of TIME Magazine, uncashed checks, human toes, beer cans, small electronic devices, large electronic devices, water bottles, pig ears, dish rags, pillows, or Senator Richard Shelby.
But, I have devised a way to stop Thelma’s anti-Christian behavior. After all, I’ve been reading dog training books until I’m purple.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that scientists unanimously agree, the most effective way of training a dog is to start drinking high-proof alcohol directly from the bottle.
No, I’m only kidding. They recommend starting with lite beer first.
Of course, that’s the modern way. Men like my Uncle Geether came from the old world. He kept cooked turkey in his pocket until grease seeped through his pants and made him look incontinent. He was a reputed dog expert.
And according to dog experts like Uncle Geether, using food to reward basic commands is the way to go. The books recommend starting with commands your puppy is ALREADY capable of.
A few commands Thelma has already mastered:
“Run far away from me, Thelma!”
“Jump on unsuspecting strangers, Thelma!”
Piece of cake.
“Poop in the kitchen TWICE, Thelma!”
But none of this matters right now because I don’t have to worry about my dog. Tyler is watching her while I cook. He’s riding his bike and Thelma is chasing.
I have paid him to ride in circles for thirty minutes, non-stop.
“But Mister Sean,” Tyler pointed out, “that will make me really dizzy if I just ride in circles.”
The world isn’t always fair, Tyler.
Tyler and Thelma Lou have just finished playing. Thelma sees me. Here she comes. She is running full speed. She trips on her ears. She licks me. I lift her in my arms. The smell of her puppy breath is perfect.
Her excitement is almost too much to bear.
Suddenly, my shirt is wet.
Take your ten bucks and go home, Tyler.