In the spring of 1999, an extraordinary phenomenon occurred in my life. My dog began talking with you. Through me.

Let me explain.

I was very unhappy during that period, personally, professionally, emotionally, physically, metaphysically — you name it. I'd been in the habit for years of writing my thoughts down in letters, so I picked up my trusty yellow legal pad and began pouring out my frustrated, mediocre thoughts.

This time, I thought I'd go straight to the source of my pain. I decided to write a letter to my dog.

Understand, I have a very, very bad dog — a pit bull mix named Lucy. It was a spiteful, passionate letter, full of confusions, contortions, condemnations. And a pile of angry questions.

Why do you shit on the floor? Why do you sniff other dog's asses? What does day-old vomit taste like? Finally — and most emphatically — what had I done to deserve a life of bad food, oppressive tedious work, and awkward interactions with the opposite sex when I could be laying in the sun gnawing on a pig's ear all day?

To my surprise, as I scribbled out the last of my bitter, unanswerable questions and prepared to toss my pen aside, my hand remained poised over the paper, as if held there by some invisible force.

I looked up. My dog gave me a long, meaningful look. Abruptly, the pen began moving on its own. Out came ...

"Why don't you go fetch me one of those cups of tapioca pudding that're in the fridge, and I'll tell you everything you want to know?"

I fetched Lucy the pudding cup, and she licked it clean. Then I wrote my first question.

How do dogs talk, and to whom?

Dogs talk to whomever they feel like talking to. The question is who is listening? No one, usually. Mostly dogs don't have much to say anyway, so it hardly matters. Only someone like you would listen, someone with nothing going for him and a lot of time on his hands. Only someone with no pride whatsoever and a book contract would bother listening.

Life is so scary. And confusing. Sometimes I wish things could be clear.

Sometimes I wish squirrels couldn't run so fast and would often lose their balance and fall out of trees straight into my mouth.

It hurts when you can't afford to give your family all that they deserve.

It hurts when you eat something dead off of the pavement and then your stomach cramps up and you eat a big pile of grass to ... well, I don't know why, you just do, and then you puke all over the living-room rug. Go get me another pudding cup.

You've had enough pudding cups. You're gonna get fat.

Look in the mirror, buddy. You call me fat again and I'll shit the bed.

Don't be bad. I could take you to the pound.

"Bad." God, you're trite. There is no such thing as "good" or "bad." I could kill you right now, you know. You're totally at my mercy. Go get me another pudding cup.

(So I got Lucy another pudding cup. She licked it clean. Then I wrote ...)

What is the meaning of life?

I'm a dog, not the Dalai Lama. Now leave me alone or I'll rip your puny neck off.

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