Six Monkeys: Chop, chop

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By Kelly Dolejsi

Writer’s block – a dull name for a horribly dull feeling. I picture my parietal cortex lying on a well-used wooden cutting board, an Alaskan ulu knife beside it, eager, the way all knives are.

I don’t mean to overdramatize. That is how it feels: Like part of my brain is utterly inaccessible. It might still be inside my skull. It might be in the kitchen with the dirty ice cream bowl. Either way, all I get is a headache.

Fretting over reasons for writer’s block has never helped me a bit. Like most self-analysis, it only leads to more ice cream. The only thing that works is, unfortunately, writing – which is the only cure I know for most of my problems and which is why writer’s block leaves me feeling so severed.

Maybe other people can talk with friends about their problems, or toss them away with a Frisbee, or simply think their way through.

I do not play Frisbee. Until I see my own words on a screen, I am like the proverbial fox in the foxhole: It seems like I make sense, but I don’t and there’s too many guns.

Writer’s block is dull. So today, I’ll tell you about our puppy and our ferocious old dog Zooker. I’ll tell you a true story, one that involves some writing, obviously, but mostly just putting on a page how I might respond at a barbecue if someone asked, “So, how are your dogs?”

The thing about Zooker is, he used to be a nice dog. He has never liked children – he jumps away as though kids’ hands are made of electric cats – but has always been very friendly with adult people and at least curious-friendly with other dogs. He does the congenial “What’s under YOUR tail?” dance with total aplomb and mostly only with our canine friends.

However, he has no interest, not even merely polite interest, in the under-tail-world of our puppy.

Perhaps this is because Pique was sick for our first two weeks together as a two-dog household – sick, I mean, that particular area that typically, according to canine protocol, serves as a corsage and name tag in one.

Her name was “Terrible Things Will Take Place Here Many, Many Times in the Next 20 Minutes Alone. Even You, Who Sometimes Rolls Around in Really Disgusting Things, Should Stay Far Away. Trust Me.”

It was even hard for my husband and me to love her for a while, especially during after-work crate clean-ups.

People who understand dogs commonly say that the older dog resents the new, intrusive puppy. The older dog wants all the attention the new puppy receives, even if it primarily consists of the words “No!” and “How did something so cute do THAT?”

I think perhaps the older dog doesn’t like being referred to, even in text, as “the older dog.” He never used to be “the older dog.” He was just “the dog” – like “the man” – and now everywhere he goes, people say, “Oh, what an adorable puppy,” pushing poor Zooker aside and reminding him, as he stumbles to regain his balance, of his arthritis.

It’s a bum deal and not the kind of bum he likes.

So, he bit her. Actually, to date (and I pray this will not change before publication), Zooker has bitten Pique three times. These mark the only three times his teeth have ever drawn blood in anything other than that uncooked hamburger he got into that one terrible day so long ago.

Now we have a dog that bites and a puppy with two scars and a red, gooey gash on her sweet, tasty, little snout. She looks bad, he is bad and I feel pretty awful.

My puppy is on the cutting block, right next to my brain.

I think this is one even writing won’t fix.

E-mail Kelly Dolejsi at kdolejsi@gmail.com with helpful herbal remedies and/or angry prose describing in detail why she is an unfit puppy-mother.