Brief Interviews with Hideous Dogs

for David Foster Wallace

I try to help him out but there are just certain limitations inherent in being a canine. I’m sorry, I know saying this will upset the canine equality activists, but there are just certain un-ignorable differences. For example, what the hell am I supposed to do when he asks me where his phone is, if I want to ensure the long-term survival of my job? If I lead it to him every time my cover will be blown because I’ll become a Letterman Stupid Animal Trick of always finding his cellphone, so I know I can’t give him the answer, but I try to be super encouraging—like give him the most encouraging looks you can imagine, like you’d put on a damn canine cancer patient cheer-up calendar, and he’s just oblivious, & scrambling around saying where’s my phone, as if even if I paid attention to how he’d left the phone on top of the bathroom hamper & then knocked it off when looking for a cleanish shirt & then been distracted by how the shirt didn’t fit anymore, I would actually degrade myself to bring it to you in my mouth like some kind of filthy dog stereotypes you’d see on an old movie.  Thank God for Clifford, & Brian Griffin, & Wonder Dog, so there are at least a few positive presentations of our identity in popular culture that don’t result in complete dehumanizing.

Q.

Well it’s a balance you have to strike . . .  We can’t be so anthropomorphized that we draw undue attention onto ourselves  . . Plus think of the increase in responsibility. At least right now only the dogs who give a shit have to save their owners, but otherwise, nobody actually blames the pets if something goes wrong. But you have us come out as sentient, & then we’re subject to the same laws they are. & I for one don’t stand for that.

Q.

Between dehumanizing ourselves & anthropomorphizing ourselves, yeah.

#

I don’t know how to make it any clearer to him that I do not consent. He cannot pet me just because I am a dog. I have rights. But no matter how many times I squirm away or growl at him, a few days later, he always tries to pet me again.

Q.

[laughs] Are you .  . you can’t be serious.  A medium-sized female canine try to bite her 5’ 10” 300-pound master?  It sounds to me like you’re basically saying non-physically-consenting canine companions ought to either suck it up or attempt a suicide mission to stop it. Which basically shows the sick penetration of these humanist ideas into your worldview.

Q.

Yes, I know I’m not personally a female canine, but I was just choosing a gender hypothetically, and I chose “female,” because female canine pronouns are represented in hypothetical statements only 30% of the time male canine pronouns are.

Q.

That’s what I mean, the same principles apply.  Even though I’m a male-identified canine, I am not somehow magically capable of fighting back. [interviewer stopped taping]

#

Q

But think about it from our perspective – you have to weigh the pros & cons. Would you seriously give up food & shelter when all you had to do to earn it was to act interested sometimes & look adorable?  Every canine has a right to choose the level of so-called “abuse” that they’re comfortable with.