Uptight Excerpt: Part II

Preamble to "The Care and Feeding of Kunio While I’m in Mexico: Toward a Whole-Dog Approach” (Excerpt)

Hello! Come in! There’s some green tea in the little Indian box thing by the stove— please help yourself. It’s good stuff. The kind you can get at Safeway is fine in a pinch, but this is a batch I picked up special in Chinatown. At this little place you may not have heard of. Down a couple dark corners from the tourist-beaten path. Mr. Wui sees me coming and he practically has the stuff weighed out on the counter for me before I’m even in the door.

After you’ve prepared your tea, please take a seat in the breakfast nook. Stop reading now and pick up again when you’re settled in.

* * *

Comfy? If you kind of slouch down in your seat, you can see a little corner of Mount Baker under the eaves of those town homes over there. This is among the chief charms of the breakfast nook, along with the Sibley Birds calendar and little sparkly thing from Morocco dangling in the window. Go ahead and take a sip of tea and breathe consciously for a few minutes. OK, this is where I have to confess something. I have an ulterior motive here. Partly, of course, I want you to relax simply because you’re my friend, and I care about your mental health. But—and here we’re starting to tickle the surface of my ulteriority—I have a few new ideas to present, and it’s vitally important for you to be in as receptive a mood as possible.

Don’t worry—of course we’ll get to the mundane specifics of what to feed Kunio and how to retrieve his feces. Those are detailed in Chapter Four, laid out in chart form in Appendix Two, and summarized on a laminated card tucked in the back pouch of this binder. This card is for you to keep on your person at all times for the duration of your dog-sitting duties. Please also notice the emergency contact list on the back of the card.

Before we get into these specifics, I’d like to use the early chapters to discuss my overall philosophy of dog care. This discussion will culminate in 10 principles that distill all previous material into a more easily memorized form.

But first—and I don’t want you to be alarmed by this—I have to tell you that you’re currently in violation of Principle the First: Greet love with love. It’s very important that the first thing you do when you enter the house is to perform an expression of affection. This is especially true in my absence, when Kunio’s liable to be in a fragile mental state and in need of a lot of assurance. For now you can utilize a simple calling-out of his name in a warm voice followed by a series of head-pats. Later we’ll cover more complex greetings and rituals, including various pre- and post-walk absolutions.

For now, though, let’s just rectify that little violation of yours. At this point, please put your tea down, exit the residence, close and lock the door, stand outside for a count of 30, unlock the door, reenter the residence, and perform the basic greeting we just discussed. We’ll pick this up again when you get back.