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Video: Meredith Vieira: My husband hates my dog

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    >>> back now at 8:15 with a familiar face when meredith left the "today" show last year, she said she wanted to spend more time with her husband richard . but if you ask him, meredith 's focusing most of her attention on another family member, their dog jasper .

    >> well, i hear the word jasper , every muscle in my body tightens, my jaw clenches, and i almost back away because i expect a hideous shriek to follow. and i rest my case.

    >> i think he's doing it from a good place. i think he's doing it because he's a protector.

    >> i think jasper is just narcissistic and doing that to hear himself bark.

    >> i don't think that richard really has ever really taken to jasper the way one would hope. and also maybe there's a little jealousy.

    >> i'm not jealous of the dog because i don't think i want to be the dog. i find it mind boggling that anybody can be as affectionate and pay as much attention to it as meredith .

    >> obviously i'm attracted to a type. richard 's all bark and no bite. and this one's more bark than bite.

    >> jasper is very possessive. and really thinks he owns meredith .

    >> i don't think the dog thinks in those terms. i think the dog sees me as his best friend .

    >> if i approach the bed, he goes crazy and he goes for my neck.

    >> i don't think he's ever broken his skin.

    >> i can't get into my own bed because the dog won't let me do it.

    >> i think it's when richard lunges, you know. like one of those quick, in for a quick kiss. the dog doesn't know if it's a kiss, he has no idea.

    >> meredith is a very stubborn person. she would never admit that the dog's a pain.

    >> look at him now. have you heard one bark?

    >> i hear jasper and it -- i find it piercing. it goes through me, and i look at meredith and it's like she didn't hear a thing. i never figured out whether it's total denial.

    >> perfect animal. perfect. okay. so now there's a little moment of -- good boy. jasper -- jasper .

    >> this is a way of life around here.

    >> meredith , richard and jasper are with us now. richard is the author of the new book called "i want to kill the dog." i had forgotten just how dysfunctional you two were. you know, when you left, it was a weight being lifted. and now i'm reminded of what goes on in the household.

    >> may i point out that the dog's quiet?

    >> sitting next to some yapping --

    >> oh, thanks a lot. that just set me up. that's just great. how did the book come about?

    >> you know, where i was beginning work on a much more serious book, another book about chronic illness . and the dog started barking and i was talking to my agent and i said i'd really rather write a book about how i would kill the dog. now, i would never kill a dog.

    >> let's get that out. there's a lot of animal lovers out there who are going to say that's a horrible title for a book.

    >> i would never hurt an animal, but if a meteor landed on his head --

    >> it would not upset you.

    >> no fingerprints.

    >> do you think it's possible you are a little blind to jasper and some of the dog's more irritating habits? because i have to say, the dog did spend a lot of time around here, and i know --

    >> excuse me, what are -- the dog has a barking problem. but i have long felt that it's not the dog that has the problem, it's we as trainers and being -- we didn't do good enough job training the dog. and i take responsibility for that.

    >> here's what richard writes in the book. and these are comments about you. my wife is a happy puppy prisoner and unreconstructed animal pologist. miss "m" --

    >> how do you plead?

    >> basically guilty and proud of it. i love animals and like i say, bugs in the house, i free them. that sort of thing. i don't like to harm things.

    >> isn't there a limit to what we can do for this dog on this show? i remember back -- i mean, first of all, you dragged him out here on your last day of the show as your security blanket .

    >> i didn't drag him.

    >> we gave the dog iq tests , genetic tests, weeks of dog training by expert trainers, jasper even got a photo shoot as a result of the show. what more can we do for this dog?

    >> i think the dog's -- excuse me, the dog speaks for himself. he's perfectly well-behaved. perhaps he's a little bit off.

    >> richard writes some things about you in the book that are nice. okay, mrs. doolittle. he says she is a fabulous mom, a real friend and a great journalist. and i will tell you that's more in keeping with the guy i know who says these things. because he's an awfully sweet man. has this created some friction in the house? real friction other than come sell the book friction?

    >> no.

    >> not really.

    >> she tunes me out. you know?

    >> ear plugs ?

    >> no. in one ear, out the other ear. she just doesn't hear me. and you should hear jasper when the doorbell rings. i mean --

    >> nobody in america believes a word what you're saying.

    >> submarines in the indian ocean are picking this up.

    >> you mentioned you've written other books, was this a nice break, richard , all kidding aside ?

    >> yeah, it was. it was a really nice break. i've written a lot about my m.s., other people's chronic illnesses, and, you know, meredith and i both use humor as a coping mechanism, i think. it's something we have shared with our kids who have really adapted too. and it's really what helps get you through the day. and i had a fabulous time writing this book.

    >> and just in case there are people out there who still think you are two of the most uncaring people by writing this book --

    >> me? i have nothing to do with it.

    >> there's a portion of this --

    >> the proceeds will go to the aspca. yeah. there's a hot line set up with the humane society to help people given what happened with the hurricane to relocate their pets and also there are a lot of animals out there that need a home. and i'd gladly take several more, wouldn't you think?

    >> again, the book is called "i want to kill the dog."

    >> he doesn't.

    >> he's kidding.

    >> meredith and richard and jasper . the best behaved jasper has ever been here on the show.

TODAY books
updated 10/31/2012 5:04:26 PM ET 2012-10-31T21:04:26

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


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