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Observations of an Ass Sniffer

Jane Sherman

Hi, hi, hi-ya! Didja just work out? I knew it! I can taste it under your neck. Gimme some of that hot, hard earwax. Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got sweat in my tummy! Can I chew your hair? Legs! Great warm crotch!

I'm Zero. The guy who usually writes this column has been paralyzed by pet allergies, so he asked me to fill in. He just got me. A few weeks ago, he and his kids were at the pet store buying guinea pig food. An adopt-a-pet teenager wheeled me past in a shopping cart and I reeled in Column Guy with the big-brown-eyes thing. He picked me up and I was super soft and calm. Are you gonna eat your fat?

"He's up for adoption," said the teen. I did more of the pleading-big-brown-eyes thing, and Column Guy's boy and girl, who are adopted, did the best pleading-big-brown-eyes thing of their lives. Add it up and what you get is a beautiful Saturday afternoon by the pet store checkout lane and six big brown eyes gazing up at him. He didn't have a chance! He was toast! I can read his mind, and the human part was thinking what a perfectly teachable adoption moment this was, but the animal part was just thinking how soft and cool I was. Man, do I have to itch my butt. Happy!

He put me back in the shopping cart. He said to his kids, "Mom would kill us." He paid for the guinea pig stuff and started for the door. The kids didn't whine--I guess because every time they asked if they could have a dog they knew it meant that Dad would have to live in an oxygen tent. But for some reason, this time the man in the bubble stopped before they got to the door and said, "Let's go back and see that dog." The kids went bonkers! Red bird out the window! Robin! Don't mess with me.

My name used to be Toot. The boy changed it to Zero before my adoption papers were even signed. That's how adoption works. You just wing it. They bought me a harness and some food and a leash and took me home. The guinea pigs are now guinea pigs non grata. Big news! The kids' mother didn't kill anyone. She fell for me at first sight, too. I like to lick my penis and tummy.

I'm almost four months old. What a good puppy! Yes, yes, yes, I am! My mom was a black lab; my dad was an Australian shep. I was part of a litter, but they didn't want me. There are dogs all over this city. Seems like I've met most of them and their owners in the last few weeks, and since this is my column, the issue I want to talk about most is this "chick magnet" thing.

That's what every guy says to Column Guy when we're out for a walk. It's insulting. I am totally a "human magnet." In his travels, Column Guy has met plenty of people, but he's been gobsmacked by the instant connection dog lovers have with each other. Everyone has a story. Everyone has advice. I am proud to say I have chewed through or broken three leashes already.

This psychic lady told him I am his god and that I will take him places he's never been before. Like he didn't know as much after a few days with me. He has already communed with dog people at the art supply store, the record store, the guitar store, the lakes, the dog park. All the young dudes at Best Buy left their work stations to get a taste of me. An ex-Marine by the creek found tears in his eyes. I never listen to the conversations because they're all the same and I'm usually trying to give the other dog a hickey or humping a leg. My tongue is long.

Like I said, I can read his mind. He thinks too much. I help him with that. I make everything slow down. When we walk, I can sometimes tell he's drifting off to a place that has nothing to do with me, so I look up at him--c'mon, man--and remind him that if he's not careful, he'll miss it all. Sometimes we sit on the steps and watch the people and traffic go by. In a couple of months, I'll be big enough to take down one of those city buses that taunt me with their sexy loud engines and sumptuous tires.

The other night we had some music on and it was just me and him and we were watching the sun set and he was getting all thinky-dinky and I could tell he was trying to explain to himself why this was such a perfect moment, making it into something more than it was, so I jumped on him and started chewing the top of his head so it would get through his thick skull that I am not about "being in the moment"; I am the moment.

I like sitting in his lap and driving with the window down. I like wrestling with the kids. I sleep with the boy, in his bed. We laugh about how we pulled off the brown-eyed adoption thing, like we robbed a bank or something. Meanwhile, Column Guy dopes himself up on allergy drugs, just so he can breathe and hang with me. I like curling up at his feet when he writes or reads or watches the ball game. Burglars! Kill! Kill!

My favorite part of the day is when it's just him and me, late at night. He looks at the stars and peeks in windows and wonders about the people inside. I sniff the ground and whiff the midnight mist and pretend he's Sherlock Holmes and I'm the hound of the Baskervilles. We stop and listen whenever we hear wind chimes. He says, "Good boy" to me and I wag my tongue and tail. We don't talk, but sometimes he sings Neko Case's "I Wish I Was the Moon Tonight" and I howl the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Cop car! Nighttime! Quiet!

Zero can be reached at 612.372.3775 or [email protected]

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