Walking the Dog


So, since Bernie won entry into the Oakland Animal Shelter 2018 calendar, officially announced tonight (!), I thought I’d write a series of dog themed posts. Below is a short story I just wrote after taking the Bern for a walk….hope you like it.

I chose this song (Originally a Rufus Thomas song: see below) because it’s so good but also it has the most directly relevant title for my story….so many great songs about dogs. What are some of yours?



Bernie doesn’t know what to make of cats. They aren’t dogs, but they are small and furry like some of the neighborhood dogs that he enjoys playing with. They smell different, though. And they don’t bark. And they arch their spines when he gets near and they sometimes bare their claws.

I say to him, “Bernie, that’s a cat. 99.9 percent of them aren’t going to like you. That’s just a fact.”

Bernie tilts his huge pitty head up at me, his pink and brown lips half-pursed, his ears flopped over, taking in what I’m saying. He doesn’t fully understand. “Yeah, but why don’t they like me? I’m happy-go-lucky and I’m always in a good mood.”

“I don’t think I have enough time right now to explain to you why big, strong and happy-go-lucky dogs aren’t appealing to the cat population,” I tell him. “I wouldn’t take it so personally, if I were you. Can we just finish our walk?”

“OK,” Bernie says, and we continue down the street. I can tell he’s still bothered. He stops, lifts his left leg and pees on a rose bush. Some of it splashes back on him, but he doesn’t seem to notice. “Here’s the thing,” he says, his one brown eye and one blue eye staring up at me. “That cute min-pin on Madrone Avenue — the one that hates every other dog — she loves me! You tell everyone how I’m her big boyfriend.”

Bernie sits, then sticks his paw in the air toward me and I reach in my jacket pocket and give him a piece of chicken-apple sausage bite. I keep forgetting to only give him treats when he follows my orders, not when he sits and shakes when he feels like it.

“I agree, you’re a good looking boy. And by all measures  you have a great personality too.” I worry that I may have inflated his ego with the constant crooning about how wonderful and perfect he is, and now he thinks his shit don’t stink. “But you sometimes come across as a bit over eager.”

Suddenly, Bernie lunges forward, yanking me over to the lawn in front of the Morrisons house. Before I can react, Bernie opens his mouth and slurps down a freshly swirled cat turd. “Goddammit!” I yell, my shoulder joint remaining in place only for the sake of the yoga class I’d taken earlier that afternoon. “Bad dog!”

“Sorry, I guess I’m just a bit over eager,” Bernie says, speeding up to befriend a squirrel circling a telephone pole up ahead.



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