by Peter Altschul
(Editor’s Note: This essay is included in Peter’s second book “Breaking It Down and Connecting the Dots,” available on BARD (DBC16304) or via www.peteraltschul.com.)
“Labrador love! Labrador love! Labrador love!” chanted a crowd of Labradors of all sizes and hues at the Labrador convention of the Service Dogs of America. The chanting continued, with joyous panting, tail-waggings, and leaping about as their presidential candidate, a stocky middle-aged black Lab named Snuffles, approached the podium.
“I humbly accept your nomination as the presidential candidate of the Labrador Party,” Snuffles said, tail wagging gently. “A true honor.”
More cheering and chanting.
“We Labradors are the backbone of the service dog community,” Snuffles continued. “We work hard, but we love to play. And eat.”
A volley of laughing barks.
“But, most importantly, we love. We love each other. We love humans. We love our enemies!”
“Seriously?” snorted Hunter, an 80-pound multicolored standard poodle with the soul of a comedian. He raised his head from the couch he was occupying in the living room of a large house many miles from the convention chaos.
“But we do love everyone!” said Heath from another couch in the same living room. Heath was a guide dog with the soul of a football player. “It’s one of the main reasons we Labs are so good at begging for food.”
“But loving your enemies?” Hunter grunted. “I know that Jesus human told humans to love their enemies, but - …”
“However,” Snuffles continued, his voice slightly raised. “There’s a time for honesty. So, I must seriously ask: how can our opponents have chosen a poodle named Fluffy as their nominee for president?”
Howls of mirth.
“I mean,” continued Snuffles, “we know all about poodles’ insistence that they get their own way. And they’re snobs, prancing about with their heads in the air.”
More howls from the conventioneers.
“But we want to be the poodle party, like we were 150 years ago. Isn’t it time that you poodles try something new? Vote for us, and in four years, ninety-five percent of you will vote for us.”
“Labrador love!” cascaded through the hall.
“Poodle pride! Poodle pride! Poodle pride!” chanted a crowd of standard poodles of all sizes and hues at the poodle convention of the Service Dogs of America. The chanting continued, with joyous panting, tail twitchings, and leaping about as their presidential candidate, a tall, youthful black standard poodle, approached the podium.
“My name is Fluffy!” he boomed, tail twitching. “And I proudly accept your nomination as presidential candidate of the Poodle Party.”
Poodles cheered, prancing in the aisles.
“Sure, we’re new to the service dog scene,” he continued. “But we’re making great strides! We’re smarter and more motivated than those lazy Labradors.”
“Lazy?” Heath asked, spread out on a king-sized bed.
“And of course our heads are in the air,” Fluffy continued. “We can see what’s happening around us far more than those Labradors who have their noses to the ground. We’re poodles; we’re the best; and we know it!” Fluffy thundered.
“Poodle pride! Poodle pride! Poodle pride!”
“And how can those Labradors pretend to love everything and not call the problem for what it is!” Fluffy howled. “Radical human terrorists!”
“Honestly!” Heath growled, springing off of the bed and snatching a sock from the floor.
“But abusive humans do exist!” Hunter growled, grabbing the sock’s other end.
“Love your enemies!” Heath taunted, the sock in his mouth muffling his words.
“Not that again!” Hunter growled. “Everyone knows we’re smarter, more agile, more alert.”
“You poodles are too smart for your own good,” Heath countered, shaking his head from side to side. “You’re just too doggone antisocial.”
“Well, one thing’s for sure,” Hunter said. “You’re not a coward like Snuffles.”
“What?” Heath asked, accidentally letting go of the sock.
“You criticized my breed face to face, not in front of a crowd of cultish fans.”
“Fluffy did the same thing,” Heath pointed out. “I wonder what they’re protecting.”
“Their egos?” Hunter pondered, head in the air, the sock still dangling from his mouth.
“Perhaps we could challenge Snuffles and Fluffy to make their remarks away from their followers,” Heath suggested, his nose to the floor.
“No, they’re both cowards,” Hunter grunted. “But we could do it.”
“What?” Heath asked, alert.
“We could talk about our lives together,” Hunter said, a gleam in his eye. “How we’ve learned to work as a team to manipulate our humans.”
So Hunter, using his comedic genius, had Labradors howling in the aisles as he described how he opened the refrigerator door so that Heath can grab choice bits of food; how they ran with glee to another room and devoured their plunder, leaving shreds of package for humans to clean up.
Heath, harnessing his football smarts, talked about how it was OK to be with your own kind, but that teamwork could do far more than working alone. “We can win the game against humans with much less effort,” Heath said, his voice raw with emotion, “when we work together.”
“Woof, WOOF!” barked the poodles.
When the election came around, a coalition of Labradors and poodles elected Ace, an elderly, dignified golden retriever, as president.