Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Let Ugly Dogs Lie

I blatantly lied to someone’s face this morning, and they knew it, and I’m not sure how I feel about it…

There I was, walking our dog, Remington. We call her Remi for short. She is a four-year-old yellow Labrador retriever.

Now, I’m not telling you this story to brag about our dog, but I need you to know some things for context. These are just pure, unbiased facts:

Our dog is gorgeous. She is a purebred Lab with papers. She is the picture of what a Lab – America’s favorite dog – is supposed to look like. She could be the poster girl on a bag of premium dog food or on the front cover of Field & Stream. Her coat is shiny. Her coloring is perfection. She runs with me three times a week, so she is muscular and lean.

When she sits up tall and looks at you, you almost want to salute her. When she lays next to you, you are comforted, because you know all is right with the world because amazing dogs like her exist. Again, these are just the unbiased facts that you need for this story, nothing more.

She’s also really smart, and although that played a role in what happened this morning, it doesn’t really factor into the main point of the story. I just thought you should know.

So, there I was, walking Remi. We were almost home when a lady came around the corner toward us. She was walking what I am still assuming was a canine, but it is very hard to think of Remi and that thing as the same species. For the sake of the story, I will refer to it as a dog.

If this dog was full sized, you would run from it in fear for your very life, thinking it had just escaped from Hell. Thankfully for the world, it was the size of a shoebox, so instead, you just recoil slightly at the sight of it, trying not to be rude, but desperately wanting to avert your eyes.

It didn’t have fur. It had hair that was sparse and wiry. Each hair was spaced much further apart from the next hair than it should have been, like a child’s drawing of a very ugly dog. The front of the dog was much wider than the rear for some reason, and its front legs were bowlegged, like an old cowhand named Slim. Its face gave you the distinct impression that, among other things, it could have been a cross between a rat terrier and an actual rat.

It was butt ugly.

Remi, when confronted by small dog breeds, simply ignores them. Ninety-nine percent of the time the small dog will be growling and yapping at her, as per typical small dog protocol, and she couldn’t care less. She acts as if they are not even there. This situation was immediately different. As soon as the woman and her dog came into view, I felt Remi tense up on the leash.

We said good morning to each other, and then as we passed, the woman forced my hand.

“What a beautiful dog,” she said.

Well, crap.

I didn’t feel comfortable just saying thank you. I felt like that would be rude. I mean, she had a “dog” also. For a brief moment I considered, “Thanks. Is yours a dog?” but that seemed possibly more rude and definitely more awkward.

“Thanks, you too.”

It just came out of my mouth. I said it right to her face. Then I quickly averted my gaze from both of them. Was it the shame of the lie? Was it the embarrassment about the truth? I don’t know how to feel about it.

I mean, she obviously knew I was lying. She knows her dog is the opposite of beautiful. Does the lie make her smile, thinking, “Oh, he’s being nice. Isn’t that sweet.”

Or does it make her sad, since it was obvious that I was lying and it forces her, once again, to confront the fact that her dog looks almost exactly like that monkey-lizard thing that sat next to Jabba the Hut, stealing food and mocking visitors.

As we passed, and the little monkey-lizard growled, Remi actually growled back, barked, and made a move for it. I was very surprised, and pulled her back and swung her around to look at me. She whined and shook, like she does when the garbage truck comes to steal our hard-earned refuse.

She stared wide-eyed at me, trying to get loose of my grasp. It was as if she was trying to tell me, “We need to get outta here, man. That thing isn’t a dog.”

I told you she was smart.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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