The day after the government shutdown, I noticed Franny morosely mooching around in her blanket nest. Quickly, as I have been trained to do, I flipped her a rawhide chewy, thinking that’s what she was hunting for. She didn’t even look at it, just kept harrumphing around and around, until her nest was perfect, a sure sign something was eating at her and only frantic nest-building would relieve the stress. I sighed, laid down my book, and asked her what was wrong.
‘ Gurrruuuorawrawra,’ she mumbled.
” What? What was that?” I asked. She wearily raised her head from her paws and gave me the usual pitying look when I fail to read her mind. She always knows exactly what I’m thinking, and believes its a lack of seriousness of purpose that keeps me from reciprocating. I tried to get my book back up in front of my eyes before she fixed me with the Franny Mind Meld Stare, but it was too late.
The problem, it seemed, was she was worried the government shutdown would affect her Franny Food, our euphemism for gourmet, human grade canned dog food that is actually better and more rigorously inspected than human food, ever since dogs had become ersatz children. She was frantic with the notion that her food would no longer be properly inspected, and something strange and unworthy, even poisonous, would make its way into her food chain. I immediately began musing on how the concept of “food chain” had changed since wolves had stalked humans in the Little Ice Age forests of Europe, but Franny crept up to my face and her sudden appearance startled me out of my reverie, as intended.
” Really”, I blustered, ” I doubt it would come to that. It’s all in the name of less intrusive government. We can rely on the dog food companies to inspect their own product, let the market decide who’s got the safest food. ”
‘Oh, really’, Franny said, looking up into my face with interest. Her breath was a little meaty, so I drew back from her a bit. She followed, boring into my eyes with an unsettling stare, quite beyond the camaraderie of the Franny Mind Meld. ‘ What if it was your food on the line here?’
I started to make a joke about how, given the amount per pound I was paying, it probably was my food under a different label, but thought better of it. Franny has a thing about her Franny Food, and she doesn’t joke around. Anyway, she had moved in even closer to me, and her claws were gripping my arm almost painfully.
” Sometimes we have to give up some things in the name of, of, our freedoms, ” I continued. ” It’s like, remember the Alamo, you know, our, ummm, forefathers….pioneers who tamed the wilderness with a rifle and…sheer grit.” I felt a little emboldened evoking the ancestors, and tried to take back my arm. For that, I was given a review of glistening, sharp canines.
‘Ah, yes, ANCESTORS’, Franny growled, her breath malodorous, her fur starting to rise along the length of her knobby spine. Eight scrawny pounds of convivial Wiener dog suddenly felt like 80 pounds of muscle and threat, and I could feel the ticking of the blood in my white, overexposed, and extremely delicate throat.
” Frannnnnny??” I gurgled, truly alarmed. What had just happened? A government shutdown had reversed thousands of years of interspecies cooperation, of détente between man and wolves, of a quid pro quo that had enriched both human and beast, that had yielded to mankind Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Ol’ Yeller….wait, bad analogy….Toto, Snoopy….Man’s Best Friend…..all gone because of a stinking ideological need to be Daniel fucking Boone? How dare they shut down Franny Food inspection facilities! How dare they compromise my Franny’s health!
I was ready to go out and vote! On anything!
Franny had long since hopped down off my arm. ‘Just kidding’, she said, picking her teeth with a stiff sliver of rawhide. She actually smiled at me. I harrumphed as convincingly as I could, and picked up my book. It was hard to concentrate, though. I kept catching her looking at me with speculation, and I started wishing there was a congressman close by I could throw to her and her pack. Wherever they were lurking.
I’m thinking a Dog March On Washington. I’m sure that was my idea.