Enough is enough. Politicians on the right claim we have too many lazy, shiftless people collecting welfare. Politicians on the left claim we have too many lazy, shiftless corporations collecting welfare. Neither can agree on which side should be cut. So I’m offering a compromise – an offender that offends everyone, no matter which side of the spectrum you’re on: The family dog.
My latest epiphany occurred this past Sunday morning as I was paging through the newspaper, reading the op ed salvos regarding welfare. It’s caused yet another great ideological chasm in the country, and as my epiphanies tend to unify, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for me to step in.
I closed my eyes for a good five minutes straight, which is usually the longest I can sit without reaching for my iPhone. The calm was interrupted by a meow from the family cat. Old Whiskers was perched on a window sill above the slumbering family dog.
The feline motioned at the dog with one of his little cat paws.
“Whiskers, I think you’ve got it!” I shouted, rising to my feet. I rushed over to my computer and analyzed the family finances. The cat was right. We spend a ridiculous amount of money on dog food, kennel costs, and vet bills.
It should be noted that the dog and I don’t always get along. Because he’s a mini-dachshund, he’s got a nasty habit of urinating indoors, and I’ve spent thousands on Febreze to mask his mark.
Perhaps that’s why I’m focusing on the dog, not the cat. Even though we also spend a lot on the feline, he hates the dog and routinely kicks his ass, which makes him worth every penny.
Nevertheless, my numbers indicated that the amount I spend on the dog far exceed the typical cost it takes to keep someone on the human welfare ranks – be it corporate or individual. I was appalled, and I walked over to his little doggie bed where he had the audacity to be snoring in the middle of the day.
“You. Freeloader. On your feet!”
The dog opened an eye, regarded me for a moment, then closed it.
“Alright, then, pretend you’re sleeping, but here’s the plan.” I proceeded to detail the latest epiphany, even as he pretended to be fast asleep.
Educating a Wiener
The goal was simple. Instead of giving the dog a hall pass and letting him spend the bulk of the day sleeping, I would create my own Wag2Work program. “Education is the key!” I cried, knowing that book-learning is the time-honored solution to all of society’s problems.
Educating a wiener dog looked to be a bit of an uphill climb, however. For starters, he didn’t know how to speak or write. But that was really just a minor detail. The bigger issue: Had he really ever been challenged intellectually?
For example, how many canines have ever been exposed to the works of Plato? Socrates? Other guys who wear togas?
Have they ever been taught to think critically, and to criticize critical thoughts of other critics? I highly doubt it.
Thus, I launched an extensive educational effort. First, I enrolled him in Yale’s online undergraduate program, which was a bit tricky considering my dog isn’t exactly human. However, when you make a big enough contribution to the endowment fund, anything can happen.
My thought process was that after the wiener earned his four-year degree, he’d be ready for either some sort of post-graduate work, or at the very least, become a line cook at Arby’s. I was fine with either alternative, and so I began to teach.
During the first week of online lectures, the wiener’s behavior was not what you’d expect from a typical student. I didn’t see him taking one note and he didn’t ask any questions. He just wagged his tail and occasionally pooped in the front hallway. But I could see the little wheels spinning in his wiener brain. He’s soaking it up, I concluded, like a little canine sponge.
At mid-terms, he was to take a blue book essay test. (I had explained to the yale people that he wasn’t quite so good on the keyboard, lacking opposable thumbs and all. They acquiesced and allowed us to go old school blue book.)
I sat the wiener down and read him several questions pertaining to philosophy, the Theory of Relativity, and the supply-chain management of Arby’s restaurants. “Now let’s see what you’ve learned,” I said, leaving him with the blue books and a set of pencils.
Two hours later, I returned to find the pencils chewed to bits, the blue books eaten, and more poop in the front hallway.
Initially, I was pissed, especially since I stepped in some of the poop. Then I realized that I had something special on my hands (not on my shoe). “You’re an outside the box thinker,” I said to the wiener. “Not one to be restricted to the industrial model of education. Dear lord, you must be suffocating!”
The wiener’s disdain for history, science, sociology, philosophy and all things that required blue book testing indicated that this was no ordinary dog: This was an artist.
Immediately I enrolled him in a school for the arts. I chose the dancer track, considering that he liked to chase tennis balls and could run up stairs. We showed up the first day, the wiener clad in little doggie leotards and leg warmers.
Fellow dancers swarmed. “Oh, he’s so cute,” they cried.
“He’s not a play toy,” I screamed. “He wants to be respected for his ability, not his appearance.” The wiener pooped on the dance floor for added emphasis.
Class began, but when I tried to scoot the wiener into the ranks, he responded by attacking one of the male dancers, sinking his teeth into the poor chap’s left buttock. Chaos ensued and a flustered dance instructor summoned the school’s lone security guard.
The guard arrived, observed the out-of-control wiener dog, and promptly opened fire. His gunfire shattered dance mirrors and gravely wounded a few ballerinas. I decided it was time to go.
I high-tailed (and the wiener low-tailed) it out of there, and we headed back to my apartment, where I reassessed my efforts to get the dog off welfare. It seemed to me I’d been coddling the little varmint. He’d blown both opportunities, and I sensed there was no real incentive for him to step out on his own.
I decided to give him one. I drove over to a nearby Arby’s, and took the wiener to the drive through. They handed me a roast beef sandwich, and I handed them the dog. “Put him to work!” I shouted as I peeled rubber out of the parking lot.
Wieners of the World Unite
I heard nothing for a month. No word from Arby’s. No dog scratching on my front door.
Several weeks later, there was a commotion outside my front door. I could make out a series of yips, growls and a couple yaps. I opened the door to find hundreds of dogs gathered on my front lawn.
It looked like I wasn’t the only dog owner who’d grown tired of his do-nothing dog. Many of the canines were clad in the uniforms of fast-food workers. They carried picket signs, crudely written in what I assumed to be dog scrawl. The signs read:
“This is What Dog-macracy Looks Like”
“Bite the Hand That Feeds You”
“Occupy Onerous Owners”
Ah crap, I thought, realizing I’d probably unleashed an epic battle between the animal kingdom and mankind. I stepped out onto the front porch, ready to promise all of them an extra $.25 an hour if they’d just stop defecating on my lawn. That’s when I saw him.
It was my little wiener dog, at the front of the pack, wearing a Che Guevara beret and brandishing a mini-bullhorn.
“Puppy!” I cried, extending my arms, happy to be reunited with my little pooch.
Instead of licking my face, however, he flew through the air and his little fangs sank deep into my throat, taking hold of my jugular. I slumped down in a pool of blood as the dog crowd howled in approval.
It occurred to me, as the life drained from my body, why yet another epiphany had gone horribly wrong. I made the fool mistake of letting the hound get educated. Not smart, I thought as I started heading toward the light. Next time, I’ll let sleeping dogs lie.