Trying To Cut Back

Dear Goddamned Dog,

I’ve just had to swear to your veterinarian that you don’t smoke.

I also tried to convince her that I don’t smoke, but you testing positive for tobacco allergies is making this difficult to convey.

I tried to explain your obsession with cigarette butts – how you’ll find them in the street, in building halls, in fields and on beaches. You found one at the kids’ pre-school playground. You’ll find them everywhere.

I explained the lengths I’d been going to to keep you from tobacco, scanning the streets and sidewalks, keeping your head up, rushing you, sometimes carrying you past known “ashtray” areas, and that despite all that, you’d find them anyway. I explained that it’s possible you’re stashing butts you find on the street for later. I told her I suspected some of the neighborhood birds of being in collusion, picking up butts and dropping them in our yard in exchange for the occasional left-behind kibble.

And then you looked up at her, all innocent puppy. She never saw the quick, sideways glance you sent my way.

She gave me a stop-smoking pamphlet. A pamphlet.

You’re really going to have to cut back, Goddamned dog, before someone sends me to rehab.


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