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Sit. Stay. Good readers…

First published many years ago, Tasha’s story remains a cautionary reminder that you can lead an old writer away from politics, but you can’t make her dog write a bestseller.

Hello, I’m Barb’s dog, Tasha, and she is making me write this because she thinks you would be interested in my life story*.

*[Translation #1: Barb heard that Millie’s Book, Barbara Bush’s transcription of the life and times of First Dog Millie, made well over a million dollars while Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo has made over $4 million. So Barb thinks she could do the same with my story. Of course, Barb also thinks that Angel survived that last showdown with the forces of Hell, that a woman could be POTUS, and that she’s over five feet tall. And she’s pretty sure there’s no such thing as calculus in the real world. So…]

My name is Tasha Taub and I came to live with the Taubs on Mother’s Day four years ago because Barb used to tell her family she wanted a dog**.

Bears From Hell. (NOTE: Barb’s children find these little bears very scary. They cite the presence of a severed head being used as a bucket by one little bear. Clowns, they say, are never good, and somewhere a headless little clown figure is probably wreaking inimaginable havoc on an innocent populace.
Bad bad girl, Barb.)

**[Translation #2: Now Barb is much more careful. She tells her family she only wants gifts which can be measured in carats or would require expensive riders to their homeowners insurance. And there is a new family law that anyone who gives Barb a present that’s breathing will immediately be named in her will as sole recipient of The World’s Ugliest Grandfather Clock AND the Christmas Bears From Hell.]

Over the years, I’ve made a dogged attempt to train Barb, but it has been a thankless and unrewarding job. As a puppy, I took her on hourly walks so she could admire the beauties of nature which inspired artists, writers, and philosophers to create timeless masterpieces. Did Barb spend this time in communion with nature or in refinement of the Thoreau ideal?

BARB to Tasha: “Go here before it rains.”

SHAKESPEARE  to his melancholy Great Dane: “Go thee here, where ladysmocks all silver-white, Do paint the meadows with delight…”

BARB to Tasha:”Go here and I’ll give you a biscuit.”

WORDSWORTH to his mutt, Coleridge: “Through primrose tufts, go here, in that green bower…”

BARB to Tasha:”Go here and I’ll give you a chew bone the size of Vermont.”

KEATS to his dachshund, Endymion: “Go here in the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun…”

BARB to Tasha: “Go here and I’ll get you your very own sheep.”

Barb was so cute when I first got her. But she’s just been so hard to train…

Barb’s education continued as I taught her to walk holding a leash, throw the ball, and give my ears a proper scratch. But I’ve had to accept Barb’s limitations. She will just never be any good at garbage eating, crotch sniffing, privates licking, and dung rolling.

As I outgrew puppyhood, I developed a dogmatic interest in world affairs:

  • the homeless—should they really be kept in crates and euthanized if nobody claims them?
  • civil rights—are leash laws a violation?
  • and especially reproductive rights—First Dog Millie was a teen-aged single mother. Just sayin… I don’t know where Millie stood on the Choice question. But I only went out one time with a traveling Golden Retriever, and Barb had me spayed. If I were Barb’s kids, I’d sure be nervous about dating.

Unfortunately, with maturity, has come a decidedly less svelte figure. Still, I thought the vet was barking up the wrong fire hydrant when he gave me some literature on “Obesity”. But one look at Barb, and I knew for whom those brochures were really meant. I pawed through the literature for more information to help my pet. “The most practical way of evaluating your pet is to check the fat over her rib cage.”

As it happens, I had a chance to check out Barb’s rib situation almost immediately. Because we live in the Midwest and it wasn’t the afternoon that we hold spring, we were were having a weather situation. It’s not that I’m afraid of thunderstorms. It’s just that I feel it would be easier to protect Barb from them if she is holding a 60-pound hyperventilating border collie. But as long as I was up there, I did a quick rib check.

“If you can feel fat between the skin and ribs or the ribs are difficult to feel, your pet is overweight. If the ribs cannot be felt, your pet is obese. In some pets, a large abdomen that hangs down or protrudes to the sides, indicates obesity.”

I did what dogs who get such bad news during thunderstorms do do. While Barb cleaned it up, I decided to bone up on the suggested treatments for my overweight pet.

  • Step 1: Evaluate the pet’s diet and activity level. In Barb’s case, activity seems to involve overconsumption of news coverage involving presidential candidates, permanent residence on the sofa during election years, and ice cream or—on particularly bad days and/or presidential candidate debates—mojitos.
  • Step 2: Put the pet on a high-fiber, low-fat, less calorie-dense diet. (In Barb’s case, this meant blending shredded copies of presidential candidates’ speeches with a skim-milk latte.) “By using this approach,” the brochures approved, “the pet can continue to consume approximately the same volume of politics as usual and achieve a comforting sense of fullness.”
  • Step 3: Be resolute. Home management of the politics diet requires the vigilant cooperation of every member of the family. “Down, Barb,” is enough if she begs to watch News Hour. But if she fetches the paper and tries to read anything but the comics, we have to be firm: “Bad Barb. That’s a bad girl.” Even if she whines pathetically and looks at you with those big eyes, just swat her gently across the nose with the paper and remind her it’s for her own good.
  • Step 4: Be firm. “Dieters can be sneaky,” warned the literature. Barb may hide under the covers with the portable TV tuned to PBS or the BBC. She may even stop total strangers in front of Baskin-Robbins, begging for their opinion of POTUS or a scoop of Jamoca Almond Fudge.

All a dog can tell herself is, “She’s had a good life.” If worse comes to worse in November 2020, we can always put the old girl out of her misery.