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A Conversation With My Dog

by Dave Sipley

 

Ebeneezer 1990? – December 31, 1997. Rest in Bark, Buddy.

I was an adoptee, so I knew that the question would be coming someday. Ebeneezer looked up from his bowl of Gravy Train and I put down the newspaper.

“Dave?”

“What’s up, Buddy?”

“Am I adopted?”

“What would ever make you think that?”

“Well, you’re a human, right?”

“Of course.”

“And I’m a dog.”

“So?”

“Well, that seems sort of wrong…. And then there’s Cheyenne….”

“What’s wrong with Cheyenne?”

“Well, you tell me that she’s my sister, but my fur is black and dark brown with white spots, and hers is solid tan.”

“So what?”

“I’m also a lot bigger than she is.”

“You’re also four years older than she is.”

“I know, but we’re both full grown.”

“Doesn’t she act like a little sister should? She’s always biting your butt and harassing you.”

“I know, but I seem to remember having other brothers and sisters. And a mother too.”

“Zebbie, you know that I’m your only parent. It says so right here on the paper.”

“But Dave, I haven’t learned how to read yet.”

“Just trust me. Dr. Wilcox gave it to me at his office. If you’re unsure, we can go back there and maybe he’ll examine you again.”

“But I remember being a puppy and a mother who was the biggest dog in the whole world and she was always feeding me and we were all happy and I played puppy games with my brothers and sisters.”

“Zebbie, that’s impossible. This piece of paper doesn’t say anything about any other dogs. It’s all about you. You are a very special dog, Eb. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, Dave. You say that all the time. That I was chosen. That I have good, stinky fur and a good bark. But I seem to remember living with someone else before I came here.”

“Ebbie, I don’t have any idea where you get these silly ideas.”

“Well, you weren’t the one who had me nutured, so who did?” he asked, as he looked at his favorite licking spot.

Well, he had me with that one, so I tried a different tactic. “Ebbie, what if you were adopted? What then?”

“Well, I’d try to find my mother.”

“That might not be such a good idea.”

“Why not?”

“Well, Buddy, I didn’t want to tell you this because I felt it might hurt your feelings. You are adopted. You came from the Fayetteville Animal Hospital. I paid 35 dollars for you.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“You were taking a nap.”

“Come on. I wake up at least twice a day.”

“Well, what about my feelings? Here I feed you good food, I take you for walks, and I don’t care about you sleeping on the couch.”

“But I want to play with my brothers and sisters. Stick and ball and frisbee and stuff.”

“Well, Eb. That’s the other thing I didn’t want to tell you.”

“What?”

“Your mother didn’t want you. She was a street-walking garbage-eating bitch. She never wanted you. She got jumped in an alleyway one night by a great Dane or a poodle or schnauzer or something. It was all the same to her. Anything for a little tail.”

“What was her name?”

“Leigh. Why does that matter?”

“Well, you’re right. She does sound like a bitch. But I still should be allowed to meet her if I want to.”

“Buddy, look at it from my view. You’re my best pal. What if you find out the truth? What if I told you that I’m not everything that you thought I was? That I don’t actually go out and hunt for your dog food? That I don’t actually create the water that I put in your dish? That when I come home at night, I’m not just showing up to visit you? That I am not your entire world like you think of me?”

“I’d think that you had a pretty small ego, Dave.”

“Maybe so, but I hope you can see it from my perspective. If you search for your birth mother, it’s because you don’t love me anymore.”

He gave me a big sloppy slurp on the face. “That’s not true and not fair, Dave. Why can’t I love you AND find out about my heritage?”

I’d never seen such rebelliousness in my Buddy before. He was really serious about it. The drool on my face hardened into a crust. I felt like it was somehow cheaply symbolic for the changed nature of our friendship.

I had to take control again because I’d lost the argument. I raised my voice to him. “Ebbie, thanks to really restrictive adoption laws that protect me from you knowing anything about your past and heritage and allow me to make up anything I like, you can find out non-identifying information about your mother when you are 18 years old. Don’t forget, that in dog years, that’s 126. You’re free to do as you please then. But don’t expect any more Gravy Train. We’re going to switch to Budget Bits.”

“Dave, that’s not fair. That means that as far as fundamental human rights go, as an adoptee, I’m nothing more–to both you and the system–than a ….”

“Dog.”

“Exactly.”

He sighed and went back to his Gravy Train. The ungrateful cur.

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SAMPLE STATE ORGANIZATION RESOLUTION AGAINST VETOES AND OTHER RESTRICTIONS

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