(fiction repost from June 2009)

Walter is farting like a garbage truck on fire and turns around as dogs will do and stares at his own butt, curious and anticipating, like some little animal might just poke its head out of his ass and say boo.

Joey, sitting on the couch in his underwear and faded green Hulk t-shirt watching Big Brother reruns on TV waves his greasy orange stained fingers in front of his face and crinkles his nose and wonders if he's made himself a big mistake getting that dog from the pound. His apartment stinks bad enough already. The last thing he needs is even more stink.

Course really Joey should've gotten a cat. After all, the whole point is to catch mice but cats make his eyes itch and then he starts sneezing and can't stop. Joey had already tried traps and traps caught a few mice but not all of them. He could still hear them scritching in the walls of his no bedroom apartment. He'd always be finding mouse drops scattered round the edges of his kitchen floor and around the chewed out holes of his Cap'n Crunch boxes or Kraft Dinner or loaves of Wonderbread.

One morning, when Joey woke up and first thing he saw was three black mouse shits on his pillow, he'd figured he'd had enough and better do something more about it than just wait for the little shitters to go get themselves trapped. He was going to be pro-activated. That's when he decided to go down to the pound and get a dog.

What he'd really wanted was that littler one, that Jerk Russel or whatever it was called. Someone had told him those littler dogs were good at mice catching and that's what Joey needed. But the stuck up girl at the pound wouldn't give him that dog. She said that dog needed exercising and she'd already tricked Joey into admitting he didn't exercise much.

Instead, she took him to see a ragged, bone thin, creaky old dog and said that Walter might be more suitable for him since he was an older dog and didn't need much activity to keep happy but then when Joey asked about Walter's mouse catching abilities, the stuck up suddenly didn't even want to give him Walter, but then someone there said something to her about Walter's time being up so it was either adopt him out or PTS whatever PTS meant.

Anyway, so Joey got himself a dog, just not the one he wanted. He didn't have much faith in Walter's ability to catch mice but he figured if it didn't work out, he could just boot Walter out the back door. Even if it did work out, he figured he'd boot Walter out the back door anyway once the all the mice were gone.

*****

Another rear expletive and then the nerve endings from Walter's back end fire off a signal which slowly travels along rickety old synaptic pathways to Walter's twelve year old brain telling it that the internal pressure is building up back there. Walter starts to rise. That in itself is quite a job for him these days. He pushes himself up first with his front legs, and that's not too bad but now comes the hard part.

Joey knows what's coming because he's seen this routine a few times already in the two hours Walter's been at the apartment and he could go over and help Walter get up but Joey's eating Cheezies with his fingers and doesn't want to touch the dog because it might be dirty or something. Anyway, helping a dog just isn't something Joey would ever do. Dogs help people, not the other way around. You start helping dogs out and pretty soon you'll be hanging with homos and voting in liberals.

Walter rolls his lower body so that it's centered evenly over his back legs and then by rocking and shifting his weight back and forth a couple of times, he works up enough inertia to help his hind legs lift up his back end. Joey can tell Walter's really straining this time because he's grunting low and loud. To Joey's eye, Walter's looks kind of stuck, halfway between standing and sitting. It's like he's hunched over and can't quite get his back legs to straighten out. Walter grunts some more and shuffles around a bit.

And that's when Joey realizes Walter isn't trying to straighten out his legs, he's trying to take a crap.

Joey yells at Walter, "Nononononononono no no no noooo," but too late.

Walter pushes out a single, hard, egg shaped piece of turd.

Joey's in midstep, on his way over to give old Walter a kick when he notices something unusual. He notices that the turd's not a turd. It's yellow. It's shiny. It's metallic. It looks like gold.

Joey's not quite sure he believes his eyes.

He walks over and shoves Walter out of the way so he can get a closer look at the golden turd. There's nothing turd looking about it, other than maybe it's shape. It's surface dully reflects the fluorescent kitchen lights. Joey looks up at Walter but Walter's now walking around in the kitchen sniffing along the base of the counters and fridge.

Joey crouches down and looks back at the turd. He jabs a finger at it. It makes a tinking sound. Joey picks up the turd and is surprised by its heaviness. Even though it had just come out of a dog's ass, it's already starting to feel cold. And hard. Definitely metal.

Definitely gold.

Joey starts to laugh. He's heard of dogs swallowing golf balls before but never one swallowing a golden egg. This thing must be worth thousands of dollars. He wonders if he should take it to the bank but then what if there's some notice out there about someone missing a golden egg and if he goes to the bank, the bank will just confiscate it from him, never mind that it was his dog that shit it out and he found it fair and square.

Forget the bank then. He'll use the pawn shop.

Joey starts thinking about walking out with all that money in his pocket and how good that's going to feel. First thing is a party with one of the girls. There's the forty dollar girl and the sixty dollar girl but for sure he's going to splurge and get with the eighty dollar girl. Hell, he might even get the eighty dollar girl and the sixty dollar girl both. Now that would be something.

Walter is still sniffing around the kitchen and finds a spot on the floor that's somewhat tantalizing and starts to lick it. Joey sees this and walks over to Walter and yells, "Quit that," and pushes Walter away from the spot with his foot. Walter takes a step back and almost collapses down on his weak hind end but the cupboard he's backed into helps keep him up.

For a second, Joey feels kind of bad seeing how decrepit Walter is so he takes a dirty plastic bowl from the sink and fills it with the remaining take out Chinese from the weekend and sprinkles some Cheezies on top. He puts the food on the floor and watches Walter sniff it then gulp it down. It's gone in less than ten seconds.

Joey picks up the bowl and fills it up with water and puts that on the floor. Walter gives it a sniff but isn't too interested. Walter looks up at Joey.

"If you're looking for dessert," Joey says, "you gotta get some mice," and with that, he grabs his jeans and shuffles into them and then heads out the door to the pawn shop.

*****

An hour later, Joey walks back to his apartment.

The pawn shop was closed so he'd gone to the coffee shop and got himself a ham sandwich and a couple of apple fritters and a coffee which he mostly dumped into the garbage so he could refill the cup up with cream.

The egg was a nice weight in his pocket and every so often he would stick his hand inside and touch it. He had wanted to just take it out and put it on the table and have everyone in the shop come over and marvel at it - at him - but he knew that wouldn't be wise. Not in this joint.

As his hand wrapped around the golden egg in his pocket, he had felt a sense of security and strength and, at the same time, he had watched the three girls who were standing just outside on the sidewalk as they intently peered and beckoned into the windows of passing cars, none of which were stopping.

Now as Joey pushes the key into his apartment door, he curses the pawn shop for not being open. He could be walking in with a girl on each arm right now.

Joey shuts the door behind him and the first thing he sees is Walter sleeping in Joey's own bed which is just an old futon on the floor. He forgets about the egg in his pocket and rushes over and knocks Walter off the bed.

"Get the fuck out of my bed," Joey yells, disgusted at the dog.

Walter lands awkwardly on his side on the wooden floor and lets out a yelp and then a groan as he tries to right himself but has a hard time. Joey turns away.

That's when he sees the two other golden eggs on the floor by the radiator.

Joey rushes over to the eggs and picks them up. They're not exactly the same as the first one. One is slightly bigger and rounder. The other is slightly smaller and more teardrop shaped. Joey can't believe his luck.

He takes the first egg out of his pocket and arranges all three of them on his bed, side by side. He caresses them with the back of his hand like they were newborns.

Three golden eggs. Forget the sixty dollar girl and the eighty dollar girl. Joey decides he can do better than that. Joey decides that he's going to party with Jenny. He can definitely party with Jenny now.

Three golden eggs. Even the pawn shop isn't going to be able to handle that. We're talking riches here, Joey thinks. Tens of thousands maybe even a hundred thousand dollars. Enough to get out of this crummy dump. Enough to buy a huge plasma screen TV, an X-Box, an iPhone and a Blackberry, a new pair of Pumas ...

And then a thought hits him. What if there's more? Just how many eggs did that damn dog swallow? Joey looks over at Walter. Walter is lying on the floor beside the couch but he's not asleep. He's watching Joey back, concerned.

Joey goes into the kitchen and pulls out the biggest pot he has from under the sink where it's been catching water drips. He rinses it out and then goes to his fridge and pulls out all the food still in there. He mixes lettuce with ketchup with hot dogs with eggs with stale bread ends with jam with mayonnaise with half an open can of spaghetti. It's enough to just fill the pot.

Joey puts the food down on the floor and calls Walter. Walter lifts his head and sniffs the air but isn't sure about Joey. Joey tries to be more conciliatory with his voice. Walter starts to rise but again has difficulty. Joey goes over and pulls Walter's haunches up and holds onto him until he's steady. Then he pats Walter's butt and points him to the food. Walter walks over, sniffs the food and gobbles it down. Done in 20 seconds. Walter looks up for more.

Joey goes over to the cupboards and takes out the uncooked pasta and all four cans of chicken noodle soup and the unopened jar of spaghetti sauce and the half eaten package of beef jerky. He dumps everything into the pot and adds a few cups of water and puts it on the stove on high. As soon as the broth starts to boil over, Joey takes everything off the stove and puts the pot into a sink filled with cold water so that it'll cool down faster. Once it's cool enough for his finger, he puts the pot down on the floor and beckons Walter.

This time Walter actually wags his tail and saunters over and sniffs the pot and starts to gulp. Done in just over a one minute.

This time, after finishing, Walter sniffs his way into the washroom and takes a long drink out of the toilet. Joey decides not to check to see if it was flushed. He'd rather not know.

There's no more food left in the kitchen but it doesn't seem like Walter's hungry anymore anyway so Joey sits back down on his couch and waits.

Two and a half episodes of Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire reruns later, Joey looks away from his TV to see Walter grunting and straining and then finally pushing out four more golden eggs. This time they're smaller than any of the previous ones but there are four of them so that makes up for it.

I've got a dog that shits gold, Joey says to himself and he can't remember a moment in his life when he's ever been happier.

Part 2 here.



4 Comments to “Walter and Joey - Part 1”

  1. "Walter is farting like a garbage truck on fire and turns around as dogs will do and stares at his own butt, curious and anticipating, like some little animal might just poke its head out of his ass and say boo."

    Have you been secretly videotaping my household? Laughed myself silly. This is the dog version of Robert Benchley's Family Life in America: http://www.robertbenchley.org/lca/index.htm#toc_5

    Only better. Looking forward to Part 2

  2. Fred says:

    Hi Antoinette, I don't know Robert Benchley but I'll have to check him out. Thanks.

  3. Fred says:

    Antoinette, that "Family Life in America" piece is quite funny. I'm surprised it was written such a long time ago. It's got quite a modern feel to it, like something you'd read in any recent New Yorker.

  4. Fred, yes, it's a pretty timeless piece. I often think of its relevance to reality TV. I used to recite in high school when I was on the Speech Team,

    Very proactivated of you to look it up I must say....

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The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.
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