In "I Want to Kill the Dog," New York Times bestselling author and journalist Richard M. Cohen shares his hilarious struggle for household dominance with Jasper, the much beloved dog of Cohen's wife, Meredith Vieira. Here's an excerpt.
My wife, Meredith Vieira, insists Jasper is a smart dog. I do not think so. The animal cannot name the capital of New York and is content to eat dog food every day. When he behaves, I promise him water with his next meal. If he is very good, I mean exemplary, there is a special treat. Dog food, again.
I have to trick Jasper into going outside, which he never wants to do. I am smarter than the dog is. Not by much, Meredith suggests. I leave a door open and eventually he sees or hears something and goes out. Genius. Jasper will chase anything not nailed down. Not another dog, of course. That would be too much work. And Jasper’s little legs would never work that hard. He would demand a lunch break.
No, Jasper is more likely to go after a leaf gently falling from a tree. He repeats the exercise many times an hour. All the while, his shriek can be heard in the next county or picked up by Navy intelligence from a submarine in the Indian Ocean.
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Other dogs run and jump and play outdoors. We have a large enough property with an electric fence, heaven for an ordinary dog. Ours whines to get back in minutes after he leaves the house. There is nothing worse than a whining dog. Man up, I yell to deaf ears. If Meredith is there, she jumps to her feet to let the beast back in.
No response to the bark? The dog is so determined to find Mama and stay by her side that he chews through screen doors and throws his ample bulk at the barrier. Jasper is, well, a bit overweight. A large tear in the screen magically appears. The two are reunited.
By Meredith’s count, this has happened seven times. The animal breaks through. The door is repaired. That is called perpetual motion. And we are left supporting the local economy.
“Why don’t you leave him out and let him pretend he is a dog?” I ask. “You are a broken record,” she responds. Jasper prefers sounding off from a corner of the couch in the family room.
This is how smart the smart dog is. He routinely stands in front of our car and bites the license plate as we start to pull out of the driveway. He remains in front of the car as we pick up speed. A slip of the right foot would turn him into a pancake. At the last minute, Jasper steps aside and barks himself silly as we pull away.
My wife delights in telling anyone who will listen that Richard hates dogs. I do not hate all dogs. I like other people’s animals or those I cannot have. And I do not hate our dog. I hate the word hate. I do. Hate is imprecise and so overused. I just want Jasper to go away. “Run away, Scar,” Simba commands. “And never return.” That worked in The Lion King.
Our dog, I mean Meredith’s dog, can lie peacefully in a comfortable position with a bed of rose petals under his head or in front of a moving dump truck for all I care. That is his choice, and I will defend his right to make it. But I am resigned to a basic reality. Jasper is here to stay.
The dog will continue its annual ritual of scaring cute kids away on Halloween. The dog will keep shrieking at dawn, a special pleasure after a late night. Meredith will keep feeding Jasper leftover steak from the table so he can enrich our lives all over the place overnight. And best of all, Meredith will have to keep asking for Jasper’s permission to kiss me goodnight. Unacceptable.
And Jasper will live to bury me.
Excerpted from I WANT TO KILL THE DOG by Richard M. Cohen. Copyright (c) 2012 by Richard M. Cohen. Reprinted by arrangement with Blue Rider Press.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive